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Urban Design Compendium


Case Study 016 - Defining character in social, economic and environmental terms

016 - Brighton & Hove Urban Characterisation Study

        The Brighton & Hove Urban Characterisation Study considers the city as a series of neighbourhoods which are defined by social, economic and environmental circumstances. Much more tangible than wards or character areas, councillors, officers and residents can easily identify with this definition of the city. As a result, the document provides a useful tool to guide planning policy, transport strategy and development control.

Brighton & Hove City Council identified the need for a study that would offer a full and shared understanding of the makeup of the city in social, economic and environmental terms. The Urban Characterisation Study followed basic urban design principles in a thorough analysis of the city. However, the study went beyond an analysis of mere physical form to offer in a more in-depth assessment of the city’s character which would be of value to all parties engaged in the development process.

Location, topography and micro-climate were described and used to explain historic growth and economic development. Land use, movement, open space and transport were mapped and considered in terms of walking distances from homes to parks and shops. Demographic data and socio-economic information was also included to provide an insight into the people living in the area. Thus the document showed the relationship between landscape, the built environment and the social world, and how they have shaped each other.

The Urban Characterisation Study has provided a robust evidence base and has been used to inform the Core Strategy, development briefs and other planning documents. It has helped the Sustainable Transport Team to understand the public transport needs throughout the city by neighbourhood rather than wards, and adjust their strategy accordingly. It has highlighted areas deserving intervention and several Conservation Areas have been extended as a result of it. The study been used as evidence at planning appeals for larger sites and has also helped to inform the City’s Sustainable Community Strategy.

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UDC2 Section - Sowing the Seed 

The Brighton & Hove Urban Characterisation Study has been based on a thorough understanding of the physical, social and economic condition of the city at all scales..

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