The English experience of 'soft' densification

Principal Investigator:

John Henneberry


Peter Bibby, Andrew Phillips


November 2014 - August 2015

Densification policies have been implemented in England since 1947 and, in strengthened form, since 1992. Significant levels of all forms of soft densification have occured over a sufficiently long period to permit the analysis of their processes and effects, and of the impact of policies on them. This project seeks to explore the English experience of densification in order to inform the development of French policy in this area.

The project is being carried out in two phases. In Phase 1 (which takes place between November 2014 and August 2015) we are conducting a quantitative overview of the varying incidence and nature of soft densification across England between 1992 and 2010, based on a range of spatially referenced data. These include micro data which allow us to identify 'invisible' change, such as the sub-division of residential units and the creation of new dwellings in cellars. We are also examining the underlying variation in physical and economic conditions associated with soft densification and the general contours of the socio-economic effects of soft densification.

Phase 2 will investigate the outcomes, impacts and processes of soft densification through fine-grained locality analysis that considers the combination of distinctive local economic, social, land-use, regulatory and market variables. This will be focussed around 4 case studies of local authority areas to examine the interplay of different sites, experiences and contexts. The case studies will combine in-depth interviews of key local actors with document analysis, site visits, observational analysis and mapping.


PUCA (Plan Urbanisme Construction Architecture)