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Liveability Surveys

Sustainability Issue 6
Potential Users: Urban Design Professionals, Local Authorities

When to use: the Exploration stage of the Urban Design Decision-Making Process

Related Tools: Housing Case Studies, Open Space Strategy
For more information, contact Julienne Hanson.

The Liveability Surveys were a questionnaire-based postal survey, based on the British government's  'liveability agenda' that has been developed in recent years to capture the residential satisfaction of an area (ODPM, 2003). The survey was distributed to all the households living in twenty-nine out of the thirty housing developments in the sample. For more information about this sample, visit the Housing Case Studies. The Liveability Surveys comprised twenty-four questions, divided into four themes: upkeep and management of public space and buildings, road traffic and transport-related issues, abandonment or non-residential use of domestic property and antisocial behaviour.


4886 surveys were distributed and 502 were returned. Eight surveys were excluded from the analysis, which resulted in an overall response rate of 10.11%. The survey was used to rank the housing areas in order from the most liveable (lowest score) to the least liveable (highest score). It was then possible to identify the most serious issues affecting each residential neighbourhood.


It was found that most estates suffered from relatively few problems, with post-modern developments found to be more liveable than traditional areas, and early modern estates preferable to high modern estates. Residential developments from the different time periods showed different liveability problems, with the high modern period neighbourhoods showing the highest scores for poor upkeep, traffic problems and antisocial behaviour.

Litter and rubbish problems were marked as one of the biggest problems across all areas, with a low score for graffiti. Poor air quality was considered to be a big transport-related problem, and railway and aircraft noise scored lowest among the transport-related issues. With the exception of early modern examples, prostitution was the least reported form of antisocial behaviour, and drunken behaviour was reported across all time bands, especially the mixed-use urban blocks. Post-modern and post-WWII sites reported highly on car theft and car vandalism, along with property-related crimes. The high modern estates scored highly for drug dealing, drunken behaviour and crimes against the person.


The results of the Liveability Surveys contributed to a number of housing recommendations produced by VivaCity2020. These recommendations allow for the design of a clear, accessible and well-defined public realm which benefits from good natural surveillance and avoids issues such as loitering, antisocial behaviour, petty crime, vandalism, littering and graffiti.

ToolsHouseClick here for a full copy of VivaCity's Liveability Survey (pdf document, 204kb)

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