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Diversity an important factor for those in high density London neighbourhoods finds new LSE research

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The final report of a two year study on density and urban neighbourhoods in London, carried out by the Minerva LSE Research Group and Enterprise LSE Cities, is published online today (11 January 2005).

Density and Urban Neighbourhoods in London, by Richard Burdett|, Tony Travers|, Darinka Czischke, Philipp Rode| and Bruno Moser of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), is an in depth analysis of five wards in inner and outer London - located in Brixton, Hammersmith, Hackney, Croydon and Newham - that identifies how different communities respond to living in higher density urban environments.

Through on-site investigation, analysis of recent census data, interviews with local stakeholders and an extensive MORI survey of residents, the report provides a comprehensive account of the trade-offs that different groups of urban residents make when making choices about where they life at different stages of their lives.

The researchers found that:

  • Density does not, of itself, account for positive or negative attributes of particular urban areas. Other factors are crucial in determining how such places are judged.
  • Higher levels of satisfaction are determined by access to public transport, proximity to large and safe open spaces, and also good access to shops and social facilities.
  • There is greater dissatisfaction in relatively densely populated wards where high levels of deprivation coincide with concentrations of ethnic minority groups and relatively high crowded living conditions within properties.
  • Lack of car parking is considered a major problem, especially in more affluent areas.
  • The presence of large clusters of social housing that do not link to local surroundings exacerbate negative associations linked to higher density.
  • Most residents are ambivalent or have mixed opinions about density.
  • Vibrancy, social mix and other social attributes are amongst the most valued characteristics of densely populated areas.
  • Higher density areas are capable of sustaining very different social and community dynamics: places with significantly different demographic features can operate effectively and in a way that suggests they will continue to do so.

The Minerva LSE Research Group, headed by Ricky Burdett, is a five-year research initiative at the LSE Cities programme funded by Minerva PLC.



A printed copy of the full report will be available by end February 2005.

Press cuttings

Managing housing density (21 Jan 05)
High-density housing does not enjoy the best reputation in the UK. Yet it is successfully supporting a wide range of communities, according to research into residential density in the capital published by LSE last week. Led by LSE cities programme researchers Ricky Burdett and Tony Travers, the study challenges traditional perceptions of how people like to live. Its conclusions could prove significant to the way that future development happens in London and across the nation. 
No direct link. 

Financial Times
Prescott challenged on high-density living (11 Jan 05)
Research by LSE, suggests people are prepared to trade living space for a better quality environment such as access to green space and other amenities. And high-density living has its attractions, particularly in cities where there is a high turnover of population.Ricky Burdett director of the LSE cities programme that produced the report, quoted.

11 January 2005