Home Method Findings Other Downloads
Urban Pattern Strategic Design Local Design Assessment Microsimulation Social Accessibility Urban Structuring

The Method

The research method is divided into the following key components shown on the left navigation panel, which relate to the following research objectives.


  • Develop a way of analysing the sustainability of land use and transport options at both the city-region scale down to the neighbourhood scale, and understand how the interaction between these different scales affects sustainability.
The options represent generic Urban Patterns combined with appropriate transport policies. Currently outer-city areas (which includes suburbs, urban fringes, out-of-town developments and satellite settlements) have generally received less attention in spatial planning and urban design research. However, these areas are where most people live and where most new development is taking place. A unique feature of SOLUTIONS research is that it aims to understand the extent to which the sustainability of the design of cities at the Strategic Design scale and the Local Design (neighbourhood) scale are interdependent. This is achieved by carrying out the research within the frame work of strategic land use - transport computer models, and the development of equivalent 'Microsimulation' models at the local scale.

For example, a particular type of local design such as a 'permeable' grid pattern may work well for a high density 'compact city' by increasing Accessibility for walking and cycling, but it may not be the most suitable local design for a more dispersed city, where travel distances are longer. The research will test these different combinations of strategic and local designs and input the results into the Assessment process to identify the most sustainable options.

  • Develop a framework to assess the sustainability of these options against environmental, social and economic indicators using inputs from a range of stakeholders.

The criteria list should be comprehensive enough to cover the main factors that affect the sustainability of the options whilst minimising double-counting of the impacts of the options. These criteria are compared and traded off within an assessment framework. This is likely to be carried out using analytical hierarchy method.

  • Recommend sustainable land use and transport strategies for the outer city areas.

The aim is to identify robust options that are generally score well in the assessment for the value judgements of a wide range of stakeholders. In addition, the recommended strategies need to be robust for an uncertain future, assessed by sensitivity tests the options for future scenarios such as, changes in vehicle fuel technology, and changes in economy growth.

  • Identify factors that influence the sustainability of outer city areas.

The research method is based on case study cities with the aim of understanding how the sustainability of particular combinations of strategic and local designs depend on characteristics of cities such as its size, form, and socioeconomic profile. The aim is to analyse the results in detail to identify the key factors that influence sustainability and how these relate to the characteristics of a particular city and suburban area. This may reveal findings that are transferable to other cities.


Click here to view how the SOLUTIONS research programme has been structured into work packages.



The Martin Centre, University of Cambridge Faculty of the Built Environment, University of the West of England Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds The Bartlett School of Planning, University College London Transport Operations Research Group, Newcastle University