Iain Murray links to a police-sponsored report claiming that housing estates built on “new urbanist” principles are more vulnerable to crime than private estates built in cul-de-sac format incorporating the notion of “defensible space.” Interesting stuff, especially since many of the ideas that inform the new urbanism are very influential with both local authority planners and amenity societies. I’m a little sceptical when too much is claimed for design. Just like carpenters thinking that a hammer and a nail is the answer to all problems, architects like to put everything down to design (I’m sure I’ve stolen that line from Colin Ward). And I’d like to know more about the other factors distinguishing the two environments studied in the report. But this certainly warrants further attention.
UPDATE: I’ll try to say more in a few days. But a more careful look at the police document suggests that this isn’t a matter of comparing the experience of similar communities but rather a “projection” of data some of which is derived from experience of estates from an earlier period which (according to the police) incorporate “similar” design features.
On the design front, I understand that the police SBD philosophy frowns on features like recessed porches and collonades (good for hiding) leaving us with the a general flattening of building surfaces. Attractive? I don’t think so.
Do conservatives and libertarians really want their urban spaces designed according to a police approved philosophy? Really? Do the urban environments people like, such as Bath, Venice, Florence, …. (fill in your preferred name) conform to Secured By Design principles? As I said, more when I’ve got a moment…