Sustainable Suburbia Housing Research Project info

Sustainable Suburbia

Housing Research

The concept of sustainable suburbia seeks to realise the traditional aspirations of suburbia the private house and garden and set these in a more sustainable environment.

The challenge is to combine traditional private aspirations with communal objectives through exemplary design at higher densities. These characteristics of suburbia can be broadly classified as the private benefits pertaining to the design of the house and its immediate surroundings and the communal benefits of accessibility to local services, retailing, employment and public transport.

The findings of the study will provide a worth while and useful resource for arange of practitioners involved in housing.

Eleanor Warwick,
Head of Research, CABE

Defining Sustainable Suburbia

Sustainable suburbs depend upon effective spatial organisation. Two contrasting examples, both in the designated area of Milton Keynes illustrate this; a late nineteenth century walkable settlement is compared with a car dependent late twentieth century housing estate. The arrangement of the nineteenth century settlement is twice the density of the car suburb, but with equivalent plot sizes.

Private & Communal Benefits

A key objective of the study is to demonstrate that higher densities can reconcile private aspirations with communal benefits.

Walkable Suburbia – a Hypothetical Model

This theoretical study is based on the proposition that an average gross density of 50 dph, applied across a settlement of 5000 dwellings, could achieve walkable access to public transport and local facilities.

Typology – Layouts and Densities

House types and types of layout are the building blocks of sustainable suburbia. The study identifies types of family housing across a range of densities from detached houses at 35 dwellings per hectare (dph) to mews layouts at about 75dph and non family accommodation in three of four storey flats at 150dph. The range reflects a variety of possible suburban settings and demonstrates that significantly higher densities can be achieved with familiar dwelling types, without resort to families being forced to live in high-rise buildings.

Toolkit – Land Use Methodology

Designing for walkable access requires the incorporation of all land uses into density calculations (other than those in the local centre itself). This breaks with the convention that highways and open space are additional to net density and suggests more traditional urban forms which condense highways into streets.

A land use methodology which graphically quantifies residential mixes and densities and converts these into land use pie charts enables planners to look at the consequences of various mixes and densities of dwelling types and other land use within an overall density.

  • Client
    Homes and Communities Agency
  • Completion
  • Download PDF 1.77 MB