Streetscape interventions that enhance the urban environment for users – particularly for pedestrians – produce measurable benefits to the local economy, health, social wellbeing, and safety. TfL's Valuing Urban Realm project has undertaken successive studies into this relationship. Conclusive evidence has been obtained to support business cases for investment in street quality.
The first phase of the study, ‘Valuing Urban Realm – Business Cases for Public Spaces’ was conducted for Transport for London in 2006 by Accent and Colin Buchanan. It investigated user attitudes towards the public realm and found that:
"Members of the public value high quality streets and are willing to pay for improvements."
The second phase, carried out for Design for London by MVA Consultancy in 2008, examined the relationship between street quality and property value as well as the attitude of private stakeholders towards investing in improved quality. It found that:
"There is a positive, significant and consistent value added to private business by maintaining and improving the public realm.
The third phase of the study addresses the health and social benefits of public realm improvements, drawing primarily on existing research on the benefits of pedestrian-oriented environments. It found that:
"Health and wellbeing are positively affected by space and community events"
"Social cohesion is positively affected by space and maintenance"
All research carried out was rigorous, transferrable and statistically significant.
See Project History
for the full reports on each phase.
The TfL Urban Design Team have, along with their project partners, prepared a special valuation tool for urban realm investment. The Valuing Urban Realm Toolkit allows third parties to determine the expected public and private benefits arising from improvements in the standard of public open space.
The latest version is web-based and was released in April 2012.