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City & Town Planning Megathread

Started by Syt, May 01, 2023, 02:15:03 AM

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I'm opening this one, since I feel that walkable cities, NIMBYism/YIMBYism, public transportation etc. are recurring themes in a number of threads. Which left me unsure where to post this little factoid, so here we are. :P

On the German city planning subreddit (yes, that exists, apparently) someone went through the 2018 GEOSTAT data for German language regions, and determined that this is the 1 km² in the data set with the highest population. Which is incidentally the area where I lived ca. 2010 - 2014:

Now, there were a few initial surprises from readers:
- no particular high-rises (I think there's not more than a small handful of buildings with 10 floors or more in this area)
- fair amount of greenery
- from people living there (and, having lived there, can confirm): it doesn't feel particularly busy/crowded

Now, this is due to some factors, I guess:

There's almost not many buildings with more than 6 floors, but the building structure is quite dense. E.g. you have a number of city blocks where they built more housing within the housing:

Secondly, the size of apartments is, overall, probably smaller than in other parts of town, partly because they just are, but probably also because

Thirdly, there's a lot of families of low income and/or with migrant backgroundliving in the area, often in larger families or groups in smaller apartments than in other parts of town, increasing people square meters.

However, it didn't feel this "dense" when I lived there. This is primarily a residential area. Sure's there's shops, bars etc., and the busy Reumannplatz (junction of subway, tram, buses, shopping street) is on the top right corner of the square. But there's no tourist traffic, not much of a nightlife, there's fairly little transit traffic, there's no big businesses requiring a constant stream of deliveries.

Incidentally, just outside the square but still on the screenshot the City of Vienna was running a first test for implementing superblocks like Barcelona has them - i.e. reducing traffic inside a square of main roads, adding greenery etc. as part of increasing living quality there while also combating city heat in summer.

The test phase ran last year, and it seems the full implementation will come this year, with the concept also being tested in other densely built up parts of town.

If we want to prevent catastrophic economic and societal change we will have to radically change our climate system.

Proud owner of 42 Zoupa Points.


If we want to prevent catastrophic economic and societal change we will have to radically change our climate system.

Proud owner of 42 Zoupa Points.


I've long been into this stuff and it's nice to see it really getting a load of interest online lately I've been working on my own videos on the topic when I have time (which is rare. Taking forever to even get the first done)

On the populated sectors stuff the closest I've seen for calculating that is

I can't make head nor tails of raw gis data.

Funny you make this now as just this last few minutes, before this thread appeared, I've been thinking whether I've a bit of a revelation - you can have tight green belt protection or tight controls on developing built up areas. You can't have both. Which Britain does.


Duque de Bragança

The legendary 10. Bezirk?  :P

I am used to Paris, so the density did not shock me but your kilometrage may vary.  :frog:  :P


Amazing visualisation of the challenges of converting modern office buildings into residential:

Would love to see a similar demonstration for the UK - but I think it's particularly relevant now because there's an increasingly large amount of unused office space as (white collar) work is re-shaping post-pandemic. At the same time there's a left/green strand of NIMBYism that basically argues that we cannot, from a climate perspective, afford to build anything new and, given, the embedded carbon need to massively repurpose existing buildings.

Problem is those two together. The existing buildings that are now underutilised have massive floor plans and are really difficult to convert to residential.

I imagine it's more or less true everywhere.
Let's bomb Russia!

Richard Hakluyt

As a minor aside on wfh and its impact; I was down in London mid-week a few weeks ago to visit old friends and had to do quite a lot of rush hour my surprise it was fine, I always got a seat and the ambience on the various trains, tubetrains and buses was pretty chilled  :cool:


Can't click article because of paywall, but yes, converting offices to apartment space can't be easy. With open space you can start somewhat "from scratch", but depending on the size of the floor (let's say a really big rectangle) you may have to cut the units quite large or otherwise you'll end up with rooms or apartment with few or no windows. Not to mention the additional plumbing etc. to make sure each unit has a proper bathroom, kitchen and so on - a converted tea kitchen probably won't cut it.

I was thinking about how I would change our office at work into an apartment - it should be easy in theory, because it's in a palais that was built as residential. But with the internal re-structuring of floor plans and so on in the past 100+ years, it's not as easy. Our office used to be two separate ones, so you could do that again. One side then has a large, oval space around which rooms are grouped, but it ends up quite inefficient. You have a very large room (could work as living space), plus 4 or 5 small 4x5 meter offices. There's a bathroom area you could convert, but the current kitchenette is tiny - though I guess you could expand it into what's now the server room. Still not a large kitchen, but it would work. You would want to change the layout of the current rooms to expand the rooms at the cost of having fewer, and make the large open hallway smaller to expand some of the rooms "inward."

The other side of the office is maybe easier. It's one long hallway with offices on one side, and more offices at the end. You could join/split rooms relatively easy (depending on which walls are load bearing). You have a decent kitchen already (still needs to be expanded), plus bath room (on the other side of the hallway from the offices).

That said, each unit would probably be 200+ square meters, so you could think about cutting each into 2 or 3 separate ones ... and then you run into trouble - you're going to need a different hallway layout to access all units from one common area, you would have to consider where you add kitchen/bathrooms for the units (maybe have to move the existing ones entirely), and this will quickly jack up renovation costs.
If we want to prevent catastrophic economic and societal change we will have to radically change our climate system.

Proud owner of 42 Zoupa Points.


Pretty sure my old place was a converted office.
My bedroom and living room had normal windows looking onto the street. They were absolutely huge rooms. Way bigger than you'd expect in a 1 bed flat.
My bathroom faced inwards to the corridor so no window.
My kitchen faced the entrance hallway of one neighbour. They had a lockable door either side of it but my window when open would let me climb into their hall. That was bizzare.

A big problem in the uk is we do tend to have a shortage of the office space companies want whilst having a glut of low ceilinged vintage 60s shit.


I thought this article was pretty curious. Lots to take away which isn't directly spelled out.

QuoteLiving on Crossrail: Elizabeth line rents have 'spiralled out of control' in year since it opened
In an ironic twist, agents report that the opening of the Elizabeth line has made commutes harder for priced-out renters forced to move further away from stations

As soon as we put up a property we have 200 calls, 100 emails — people tell us they would pay even more, that they would do anything."

Courtnie Jules-Crompton's life as a negotiator at Stones estate agent in Hayes has been a whirlwind since the first Elizabeth Line trains rolled into the west London district 12 months ago.

Bringing fast connections to the heart of the capital every seven minutes, as well as regular speedy journeys to Heathrow Airport, Crossrail is no longer a disruptive construction project - it is a game-changer.

"People were looking to rent properties before," says Jules-Crompton. "But it's blown up. It feels like there are not enough houses.

"People say 'anywhere on the Elizabeth Line' or they list off suitable locations — Langley, Slough — basically all the stations on the line.

"There is a lot of development going on, buildings going up near the station, but they already have waiting lists. There is just no slowdown."

Kyle Hunsdon, lettings negotiator at the Hayes branch of Barnard Marcus, has a similar story.

"Properties are let within 24 hours," he says. "We have famililes where one person needs to get to Heathrow, another to central London — so it's convenient.

"I just let two properties in Hayes, and on the viewings everyone was more interested in how close they were to the station than in the properties themselves. Some people take a two-bed rather than a three-bed because it's [just] a five-minute walk."

Spiralled out of control

Of course, there is a price to pay for this convenience. Data released by lettings platform Goodlord suggests rents in the Hayes & Harlington Elizabeth Line station postcode have soared by 25 per cent in the year since the rapid link opened.

This represents price growth even above the rocketing rises experienced across the capital as a whole.

And it's not just Hayes that has been affected. Neighbouring West Drayton has experienced a 21 per cent hike in rents, while Forest Gate and Canary Wharf in east London have seen the cost of letting jump by a fifth.

Daniel Fisher, regional lettings director at estate agent Chestertons, says the £19 billion Crossrail project has actually worsened commutes for many Londoners who have been forced to move away from stations.

"Rents have spiralled out of control," he says. "Any properties close to the Elizabeth Line or other decent transport links are becoming ridiculously expensive. Many have gone up 50 per cent since 2019.

"It has fuelled the rental market further, pushed prices up and made the crisis worse. Regular people who could rent in Hayes before can no longer afford it."

Renters are making far greater compromises than Fisher has ever previously encountered.

"We see professionals in their mid-3os in house shares; families taking two-bed properties; and people moving further out."

Elizabeth Line postcodes seeing the steepest rent rises

Average rent in April 2023

Hike since April 2022

Hayes & Harlington



West Drayton



Canary Wharf



Forest Gate



Acton Mainline



Source: Goodlord

Goodlord analsed data from more than 14,000 tenancies within the postcodes of 13 Elizabeth Line stations in the year to April 2023.

It found that those districts whose connections had been transformed by significantly faster or more frequent services had seen the most dramatic rent increases since the line opened in May 2022.

Goodlord chief executive William Reeve, describes the impact as a 'Lizzy Leap' in rental costs.

"There has clearly been a higher-than-average uplift in costs for rental housing in areas which are now far better connected to Central London thanks to the Elizabeth Line," he adds.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said the Elizabeth line had "transformed travel across London and the South East".

They added: "The most significant addition to the London transport network in decades, the Elizabeth line is more than just a new railway – it has helped bring people back to public transport and has provided a much-needed economic boost to the whole country.

"Rents across London have increased by 14 per cent in the last year, the highest rate of any region.

"The mayor is doing all he can to support renters in the capital and will continue urging the government to take action to make rents more affordable for Londoners, including by giving him the power to introduce an emergency two-year rent freeze and devolve the power to implement rent controls."

The slant I'm reading here is "Bloody trains pushing up the prices for locals!"
But the actual lesson behind all this I'd take is that it clearly demonstrates transit oriented development and in general improving transit links is a good idea (tm).


Yeah it makes me think of the standard point from the guy from Centre for Cities, that just zoning around existing railway stations for suburban level density would be enough for 2 million homes.
Let's bomb Russia!

Duque de Bragança

Hardly surprising or new. Call it the RER effe(c)t in France, or rather Île-de-France.
Same happening with the new automated metro lines being built as part of the Greater Paris network projects.


Quote from: Sheilbh on May 24, 2023, 10:42:21 AMYeah it makes me think of the standard point from the guy from Centre for Cities, that just zoning around existing railway stations for suburban level density would be enough for 2 million homes.

I haven't seen this. Now this sounds wonderful and lines up with something I've been saying myself for years. Any idea on his name or the article?


That definitely works for London where the property price increase can offset, at least partially, the cost of tunnelling and large capacity stations.  Unfortunately the main new schemes (Crossrail 2 and Bakerloo Line Extension) are dead in the water.

For the Bristols, Manchesters, Leeds, Birminghams etc the commuting requirements are just too different. You don't have the necessary density in suburban areas - a lot of commuters are coming in from surrounding towns and villages from every direction. For example, there's no way of designing a sensible commuter transit system to link Bromsgrove, Kidderminster, Leamington Spa, Lichfield etc to B'ham. The best you can do is tram systems for the suburbs and immediately neighbouring towns which don't have a significant effect on property prices or unlock a great deal of additional density.


Quote from: Josquius on May 24, 2023, 10:08:21 AMThe slant I'm reading here is "Bloody trains pushing up the prices for locals!"
But the actual lesson behind all this I'd take is that it clearly demonstrates transit oriented development and in general improving transit links is a good idea (tm).

I've mentioned before that the city of Edmonton is extending it's LRT system - complete with a stop in my otherwise quite suburban neighbourhood.

The locals are quite upset at the thought of this.  I went to a public meeting last year, complete with one guy who stood up and was quite convinced that the LRT would decrease property values.

I of course disagree.
Posts here are my own private opinions.  I do not speak for my employer.