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Learning from the Victorians: Walkability Lessons for the Design of Future UK Neighbourhoods (breakout presentation)

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineConference article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>12/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Transport and Health
Issue numberSuppl.
Number of pages2
Pages (from-to)S29-S30
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Victorian architecture and built form in the UK can be quite varied in its appearance, yet is often praised by scholars and the design professions for its durability, flexibility and adaptability to changing circumstances. Although not evidenced in the literature, such neighbourhoods also possess many of the qualities that are important for walkability.

The aim of the research was to ascertain whether UK neighbourhoods containing a moderate proportion of Victorian architecture and built form characteristics were more walkable than neighbourhoods with less, or no, Victorian architecture.

Researchers selected 12 neighbourhoods in three UK cities (4 neighbourhoods in each city) with varying proportions of Victorian architecture and built form characteristics. Using the app-based version of the Irvine-Minnesota Inventory, which contains approximately 290 subjective and objective questions concerning walkability in the urban environment, approximately 40 streets in each neighbourhood were audited. The collected data then was analysed along 10 urban design categories – form, density, proximity, connectivity, parks and public spaces, pedestrian amenities, personal safety, traffic safety, aesthetics and recreational facilities – to determine the extent of each neighbourhood’s walkability.

Within each city, the neighbourhoods with the highest proportion of Victorian architecture and built form characteristics were perceived to be the most walkable. Examining the urban design categories in more detail, these same neighbourhoods also had the best form and densities, conducive to walkability, and the closest proximity to relevant services and infrastructures. There were modest correlations between these neighbourhoods and pedestrian amenities, traffic safety and aesthetics.

Neighbourhoods containing at least a moderate amount of Victorian architecture and built form characteristics appear to foster walkability. As such, they offer design and policy lessons for urban planners and designers, architects, developers and local authorities as they look to create more liveable communities for the future.