Some key research findings to date...

A wide variety of findings emerge from the CityForm project, relating to urban form and social, economic and environmental sustainability. Some of the findings are discussed in more detail below, and for more information, please refer to specific research outputs on publications page. The findings, from the project as a whole, can be found in the forthcoming book, Dimensions of the Sustainable City, edited by Mike Jenks and Colin Jones, published by Springer.

Life in the neighbourhood

  • Residents living in high density neighbourhoods are more likely to have better access to services and facilities – but they also more likely to report feeling less safe and less satisfied with where they live than residents in lower density residential neighbourhoods.
  • Higher density neighbourhoods are likely to have poorer environmental quality than lower density ones and residents on lower incomes and in poverty are more likely to live in neighbourhoods with poor quality environments.

Energy use in the home

  • Energy consumption was found to be related to the number of bedrooms in a dwelling, and also was affected by the incidence of home working, and the use of advanced heating controls.

Economics and land markets

  • Some locational flexibility was noted in the commercial and industrial property markets, but to a lesser degree in residential markets. The benefits of decentralized city forms are, however, limited due to higher physical infrastructure costs and commercial property market constraints.

Transport behaviour

  • Residents using the car to get to work are more likely to travel to more geographically dispersed employment locations than those who travel by public transport.


  • The richness and abundance of many bird species in urban areas increase with housing density but decline at very high densities.
  • As the built-up area of a place increases, the quality of its urban green space for biodiversity decreases significantly.

Integrating the findings

Such findings both support and refute the claims that high-density, compact urban development is more sustainable than low-density, indicating that the relationship between urban form and sustainability is a complicated one. The integration of the findings across all the datasets is in progress, using a number of measures of urban form, in particular by modelling spatial structure using multiple centrality analysis (MCA). These findings will be presented in the book, Dimensions of the Sustainable City, edited by Mike Jenks and Colin Jones.