What is Good about Good Design? Exploring the Link between Housing Quality and Crime

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The design of homes can enhance the quality of life of residents by reducing their vulnerability to crime. Copious research has identified the features of individual properties, their boundaries and development layout, which act as risk or as protective factors. This has been reflected to some extent in England and Wales through regulation, and national and local policy, guidance and incentives. Yet many housing developments considered excellent in terms of their design and architecture do not incorporate features associated with lower rates of crime. This does not matt er if good design is of itself crime reductive. The key question for policy is whether good design creates a crime-reductive dynamic (for example by engineering community spirit), or whether good design must be supplemented by features specific to a crime reduction purpose for lower rates of crime to result. UK government's 2001 statement of housing policy is optimistic that good design will result in safe and secure neighbourhoods, but is unclear how this link is achieved. This question is here addressed, using data from three police forces and over 6,000 residential properties. The paper concludes that award-winning housing design (developments accorded Building for Life status) is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for low levels of crime victimization to result. Award winning design must be supplemented by the incorporation of crime-reductive design for residents to enjoy the quality of life conferred by good design, uncompromised by high crime rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-161
Number of pages22
JournalBuilt Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013


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