Social inequalities and Urban design
Many debates have taken place over the years about what causes a city to be socially unequal. Economic causes, lack of public health services, lack of opportunities as a result of the city’s unrestrained suburbanization (Frenkel and Israel, 2018), lack of transportation access, local housing regulations, lack of educational opportunities, and so on.
How does transportation affect social segregation?
Transport has a crucial role in promoting social inclusion and overall well-being, which can have an impact on inequality in terms of economic and social consequences. (Gates et al., 2019). Lack of access to all services in the urban centre in economically deprived neighbourhoods is one factor contributing to transportation-related inequality. As a result of my observations of a few cities, I have noted that a transportation corridor (a railroad, a highway) separates communities within a city, thereby weakening social cohesiveness and fostering social disparities. For instance, in Sheffield as illustrated in the Figure 1, taken form the indices of deprivation (GOV.UK, 2019) the major road network, the Penistone road running from north to south of Sheffield acts as a line of segregation creating socially unequal districts. Similarly considering Newcastle as example shown in the figure 2, (GOV.UK, 2019), the main rail network, East coast main line running from west to north east of the city acts as a line of segregation. Looking at these cities of England, the problems of inequality becomes clearer. In order to eliminate the inequities, the boundaries of segregation that cause them should be carefully analysed.(Rae and Nyanzu, 2019).
How does lack of public facilities affect social segregation?
Due to the UK’s austerity measures, the civic elements of many cities have been depleted of their public services (Townshend, 2019). The regional capital of North East England, Newcastle, has seen particularly severe public sector layoffs. As a result, wealthy communities developed their public areas and services through alternative resources and private groups, leaving the poorest, least wealthy communities to fend for themselves without access to public services. Inequality was greatly exacerbated in Newcastle as a result. The paper authored by Townshend on Hidden shrinkage, burgeoning inequality and opportunistic urban design suggests that designers and planners should follow the term “Opportunistic Urban Design” (Townshend, 2019) by identifying spaces for intervention by engaging and collaboratively designing with the community and social groups when the opportunity arises.
A Solution Through Sustainable Urbanism
According to the book “Sustainable Urbanism: urban design with Nature” by Douglas Farr, sustainable urbanism primarily builds on the principles of smart design techniques, new urbanism, and green infrastructure (Farr, 2012a). In my opinion, the development of an urban area that promotes long-term wellness of the environment and the well-being of its inhabitants is referred to as “sustainable urbanism,” which incorporates all design and decision-making processes. As a result, I believe that essential sustainable design aspects such as mobility hubs (Royal Town Design Institute, 2021), walkable streets and networks (Farr, 2012b), a strategic design that minimises building energy consumption, and walkable public spaces might be leveraged to address social disparities in cities.
Frenkel, A., & Israel, E. (2018). Spatial inequality in the context of city-suburb cleavages–Enlarging the framework of well-being and social inequality. Landscape and Urban Planning, 177, 328–339. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2017.02.018
Gates, S., Gogescu, F., Grollman, C., & Cooper, E. (2019). Transport and inequality: An evidence review for the Department for Transport. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/953951/Transport_and_inequality_report_document.pdf
GOV.UK. (2019). Indices of Deprivation 2015 and 2019. OpenDataCommunities.org. http://dclgapps.communities.gov.uk/imd/iod_index.html#
Rae, A., & Nyanzu, E. (2019, February 15). These maps show how tricky it is to measure inequality in local areas across England. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/these-maps-show-how-tricky-it-is-to-measure-inequality-in-local-areas-across-england-109143
Townshend, T. (2019). Hidden shrinkage, burgeoning inequality and opportunistic urban design. Journal of Urban Design, 24(1), 75–77. https://doi.org/10.1080/13574809.2019.1553829S
Farr, D. (2012a). Sustainable Urbanism: Vol. Chapter 2- where we need to go. John Wiley & Sons.
Farr, D. (2012b). Sustainable Urbanism: Vol. chapter 4 – four case studies in Sustainable Urbanism. John Wiley & Sons.
Royal town planning institute. (2021, January). Net Zero Transport: the role of spatial planning and place-based solutions. Www.rtpi.org.uk. https://www.rtpi.org.uk/research/2020/june/net-zero-transport-the-role-of-spatial-planning-and-place-based-solutions/