Case Studies

South East England, Urban Value


Project Director
Tim Stonor

20+ including the Home Office, CABE, UCL, Savills

Higher Education Funding Council for England

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Urban Layout Value Map of the South East of England

Unlike traditional urban economic models, that have taken significant time & cost to produce, the i-VALUL research project created a model of the entire Greater South East of England.

A toolkit for planners & designers that demonstrates how physical & spatial factors influence social & economic value in urban centres.

The Urban Value toolkit demonstrates, in an evidence-based way, how physical and spatial design factors influence both social and economic value including crime patterns and land values. It provides planners, designers and community members with tools to overcome barriers that currently exclude spatial layout factors from being objectively assessed in terms of their social and economic value impacts. Applicable at all scales, from regional to local analysis, the toolkit is supported by training programmes and materials.

The opportunity

Urban Value was born from the “iVALUL” research project, one of the largest projects in the ‘UrbanBuzz’ sustainable communities programme.

Our contribution

i-VALUL was led by Space Syntax and brought together over 20 public, private, higher education and voluntary sector organisations, including The Home Office, CABE, SEEDA, EEDA, UEL, UCL, GLA Economics, Savills Research, CBuchanan and JMP.

The outcome

The findings of i-VALUL, assembled into the Urban Value toolkit, have applications in five main areas:

1. Town centre vitality
Town centres have a critical social and economic role to play and the layout of town centres can enhance or diminish this role. Town centres are expected to make major contributions to sustainable economic growth and prosperity, environmental sustainability, delivery of affordable homes and social cohesion. i-VALUL showed how, in environmental terms, well laid out town centres reduce the need for travel and promote local activity.

CABE, CBuchanan, JMP, UCL

2. Street quality
i-VALUL built on the findings of the CABE study, “Paved with Gold”, which found that higher street quality could add 5% to property values and retail rents. i-VALUL demonstrated that the quality of any street is related to the quality of the street network layout in which it sits.

CABE, CBuchanan, JMP, UCL

3. Residential property value
Street layout, in particular the spatial accessibility of a street, is a key factor affecting residential property value.

Savills Research, UCL

4. Residential security
Good residential street layout design could reduce the risk of burglary and save a total social cost of more than £8,000 per household over the life cycle.

UCL, The Home Office

5. Personal safety
Good residential street layout design could improve safety by reducing robbery in town centres and save a total social cost of more than £9,000 per household over the life cycle.

UCL, The Home Office.

Who benefits from the Urban Value toolkit?

The Urban Value toolkit has been used to support the case for improving street layout design and to provide evidence of the likely economic returns to be gained from investing in high-quality residential and town centre street layouts. It is helping to identify public sector development priorities, offering private sector investors a greater level of confidence and a more secure framework in which to invest.

This project later inspired the OpenMapping project – which created an open source model of Great Britain – and, more recently, the Integrated Urban Model of the United Kingdom, including the Walkability Index tool.

Further information

Space Syntax Research page
Details of our research into the future of buildings & urban places.

Space Syntax Consulting page
Details of our services supporting public & private sector clients in the creation of urban planning strategies.

Urban Layout Value Map of Greater London

The Urban Layout Value models were available, under licence, to the public and private sectors, allowing layout valuation to be undertaken at all scales and by all interested parties.