The Value of Place – Turning NIMBYs into YIMBYs
Create Street’s new report, Beyond Location, tries to answer the little discussed question of what we mean by the value of an actual neighbourhood and what actually drives that value by way of the inherent qualities of a place.
Using open datasets, Create Streets analysed basic urban characteristics, such as street network connectivity, population density, amount of greenery and availability of different transport modes and found that urban form really does influence value.
Having assessed a total of 160,000 of these data points against every 2016 property sale in six English cities (London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool and Newcastle) the study found, for example, that more greenery is not always a good thing and that areas with a diversity of house types suffer less deprivation, whilst areas with a more diverse offering of transport and amenities are normally worth more, other things being equal.
In London, a home closer to a high-quality park costs, on average, 11% (£51,000) more than one that is not, all else being equal. However, in Liverpool, a home located closer to a high-quality park is worth, on average, 7% (£7,760) less.
Clearly, extra “value” is not always a good thing, where the better off out-compete the less well-off for the best places. But clearly, when it comes to understanding and predicting economic and social value, urban form and design really do matter.
This poses the real question for developers and the planning system: not ‘how do you build more homes?’ but ‘how do you make new homes more popular?’ One suggestion is to amend the NPPF to require form-based codes and protocols illustrating provably popular forms and housing patterns.
The Beyond Location study shows that walkable, green, human scale blocks and streets that clearly define the public and private realm with a sense of place and which most people find beautiful, would fulfil the criteria and are better for our health and a wiser long-term investment.