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Urban Transactions: Investigating the Relationship between Spatial Preference and Spatial Configuration in the City of Leeds

Authors:
  • GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences (Germany) and Northumbria University (UK)

Abstract and Figures

This paper describes a composite method that can be used to investigates the relationship between spatial preference (in relation to commercial real estate occupation) and spatial configuration. The key finding in this paper (based on research in the city of Leeds in the UK) is that there is a potential link between urban configuration and spatial preference that could be exploited. Traditionally, the pursuit of urban land economics has been supply driven, reliant on the rational assumptions of neo classical economic analysis. Consumer behaviour is typically an implicit assumption rather than explicit variable in traditional economic analysis. This is because it has been difficult to reveal the characteristics of economic demand (the subjective behaviour of real life participants in the urban land transaction process) and its interaction with the urban environment. In conclusion, the method demonstrated in this paper reveals how the human interaction with space (its behavioural characteristics and transactional dialogue), can be explicitly analysed, visualised and combined in order to improve the urban development process.
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10
Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium
K Muldoon-Smith, P Greenhalgh, R Conroy-Dalton,S Alvanides, H King & B Sparks
Urban transactions: Investigating the relationship between spatial preference and spatial configuration
in the city of Leeds
94:1
Urban transactions:
Investigating the relationship between spatial preference and
spatial configuration in the city of Leeds
Kevin Muldoon-Smith
Northumbria University
kevin.muldoon-smith@northumbria.ac.uk
Paul Greenhalgh
Northumbria University
paul.greenhalgh@northumbria.ac.uk
Ruth Conroy-Dalton
Northumbria University
ruth.dalton@northumbria.ac.uk
Seraphim Alvanides
Northumbria University
seraphim.alvanides@northumbria.ac.uk
Helen King
Northumbria University
helen.king@northumbria.ac.uk
Bradley Sparkes
Northumbria University
bradley.sparkes@northumbria.ac.uk
Abstract
This paper describes an experimental method that has been developed to investigate the relationship
between spatial preference (in relation to commercial real estate occupation) and spatial
configuration. Traditionally, the pursuit of real estate economics has been supply driven, reliant on
the rational assumptions of neo classical economic analysis. Furthermore, consumer behaviour is
typically an implicit assumption rather than explicit variable in traditional economic analysis. This is
because it has been difficult to reveal the characteristics of economic demand (the subjective
behaviour of real life participants in the urban land transaction process) and its interaction with the
urban environment. In response, the method demonstrated in this paper, and its initial findings,
reveals how the human interaction with space (its behavioural characteristics and transactional
dialogue), can be explicitly analysed, visualised and combined in order to address this deficit. Findings
(based on an initial examination in the city of Leeds in the UK) confirm a relationship between urban
configuration and spatial preference, and that this is variable dependent on the use class of
commercial property under appraisal.
Keywords
Commercial real estate, urban land economics, spatial preference, urban configuration, consumer
behaviour.
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Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium
K Muldoon-Smith, P Greenhalgh, R Conroy-Dalton,S Alvanides, H King & B Sparks
Urban transactions: Investigating the relationship between spatial preference and spatial configuration
in the city of Leeds
94:2
1. Introduction and Theoretical Argument
Certain cities are getting smarter, bigger and denser, by 2050 the World Health Organisation
estimates that 7 out of 10 people will be city dwellers (WHO, 2014). At the same time Beauregard
(2003), Oswald and Reinerts (2006) and Schilling and Logan (2008) demonstrate that other cities are
contracting (see the shrinking cities phenomenon in Eastern Europe and the rust belt in North
America). These dynamic shifts in population and the consequent variable demand for space in cities
have made it imperative to maximise urban resources. This puts pressure on urban decision makers
with regard to land use allocation and provision. Indeed, a recent RTPI report (2014, p.35) claims
that urban decision making,
‘Is about appreciating and anticipating how different policies and decisions might interact
over different pieces of land, and incorporating this intelligence into decision making'
A central component towards this end is anticipating and revealing where, why and how potential
urban consumers make their property location decisions. Unfortunately, the traditional pursuit of
urban land economics (and to a certain extent urban planning) have been supply driven, ignoring the
suboptimal quality of human demand behaviour. The result of supply led development is the
potential location of property in areas where urban consumers don't need it. Therefore, the
challenge for urban practitioners lies in first of all developing theories and methods that explicitly
engage with human decision making and then grounding this transaction in the built environment.
The authors take up this challenge by demonstrating a simple method that reveals the relationship
between commercial real estate spatial preference and urban configuration in the city of Leeds.
Leeds was chosen as the focus of study because it has a mature commercial real estate market which
has more than a century of commercial real estate development (which can therefore be compared
to other secondary cities in the UK). Interestingly, Leeds is also one of the only cities in England that
does not have a light rail or rapid transport (LRT) system. This means that patterns of land use and
accessibility have not been influenced by LRT, which opens up the possibility of using Leeds as a
reference point against which other cities with LRT may be compared.
The objective of the paper is to start a discussion in the space syntax community concerning the
human condition in urban land economic transactions and more specifically to inform how patterns
of buildings and spatial connections are chosen in place. This is because it is not enough to consider
how consumers receive the urban product, as urban practitioners and academics, we must also
consider the characteristics and frustrations of choice. The first part of this journey is developing a
method that proves the relationship between urban decision making and spatial configuration. This
will then provide a foundation for a distinct area of research. Space syntax (a family of theories and
methods concerning the relationship between society and space) provides us with a means of
analysing this situation, in this case, in relation to commercial real estate in the city of Leeds.
Previous research (Hillier and Hanson, 1984; Hillier, 1996; Penn et al.,1998) has described the
inherent social logic of space and how this affects human behaviour. The rationale for these
arguments is that the space syntax 'urban spatial-network’ is a product of historical social and
cultural interaction. Extending this approach and bringing to bear the burgeoning interaction
between space syntax and urban economics (Chiaradia et al., 2009a; Chiaradia et al., 2009b; Narvaez
et al., 2012; Desyllas, 1997; Law et al., 2013), the aim of this paper is to introduce human behaviour
and its interaction with spatial configuration into the urban land transaction dialogue. In doing so,
the paper investigates the hypothesis that there is a relationship between the urban spatial-network
and urban decision making. In particular it seeks to probe the following question,
Is there a relationship between urban configuration and spatial preference?
While it may seem intuitive to suggest that environmental factors will have an impact on spatial
preference, the link between physical design and urban decision making is rarely examined.
Traditional research in the discipline of urban land economics (and indeed in other disciplines such
as crime pattern analytics and health demographics) has historically failed to take into account the
constraining nature of urban configuration (the latter two have only recently begun to incorporate
configurational analysis into their fields). This is an important omission, spatial configuration may
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Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium
K Muldoon-Smith, P Greenhalgh, R Conroy-Dalton,S Alvanides, H King & B Sparks
Urban transactions: Investigating the relationship between spatial preference and spatial configuration
in the city of Leeds
94:3
relate to and constrain how potential building occupiers choose where to locate their business and
investment activity.
By starting to ask this question, this paper links spatial configuration to cognitive decision making. In
this respect this work is related but slightly removed from the recent engagement with spatial
cognition (see Conroy-Dalton and Zimring (2003) for a wide ranging appraisal). This paper deals with
the affect of spatial configuration upon more ‘detached’ and asynchronous spatial-decision making
rather than real-time, situated, ego-centric, spatial cognitive problems, as are more typical in this
field. However, the approaches are still linked as each perspective involves actively cognisant
individuals or organisations in the shaping and functioning of the city. In particular, they both involve
the underlying issue of how the external built environment is internalized into human behaviour. It
therefore seems plausible to suggest that this potential link between urban configuration and spatial
preference points toward an untapped synergy between environmental and economic psychology
that could reap benefits for both disciplines.
This is potentially an important development because only focusing on property supply can lead to
diagrammatic land use strategies and static methods of property designation. Of course, it almost
goes without saying, that physical property has limited fungability (the capability of mutual
substitution), is illiquid, inertial and fixed in space. Presumably, the traditional maxim, location,
location, location, will continue to hold sway for some time yet (Ahmed, 2011). However, occupier
demand and its interaction with the urban environment is anything but: it is liquid, mobile and
dynamic. Kincaid (2000, p.156) illustrates this argument with powerful sentiment,
'By not examining the demand side of the equation we may be putting ourselves in the
position of mere spectators who see the output of economic activity while having no
understanding of what is necessary to the input. This is a poor position from which to make
policy and a near impossible position from which to choose the particulars of the physical
make-up and configuration of the built environment.'
Expounding this situation, Simon (1959), Tversky and Kahneman (1974; 1992) and Kahneman (2011)
have demonstrated that 'economic man' can be irrational and biased and is more often than not a
'satisfier,' rather than 'maximiser,' acting in response to various external considerations. Similarly,
Conroy-Dalton (2005) has demonstrated the other side of the coin, the constraining affect of the
built environment on human behaviour. However, no one has linked these arguments together and
the potential bias of one upon the other. By way of explanation, just as spatial configuration can
affect pedestrian movement it can also potentially affect and constrain spatial preference. This
demonstrates the recursive relationship between society and space. First, society creates spatial
patterns of development in order to function. Second, spatial patterns help define where urban
consumers choose to locate their business or build a new building for the same purpose.
However, assumptions of the real estate market which are generally based on supply and demand,
whether they take the Ricardian view that land has only one use, the neo classical view that it can
have alterative uses or whether it is set out in a Marxist theory of differential rent (Evans, 2004), do
not account for spatial configuration. The underlying assumption is that there will be equality in
goods supplied and quantity demanded, and those owners and renters of land will sell to the bidder
who expects to gain the greatest income. The intrinsic principle of all three theories is that potential
tenants, investors, developers and regulators have access to perfect information regarding all of the
alternative properties in the market which in turn can be used to inform a bidding process. However,
traditional neo-classical approaches to information ignore the costs and frustrations that customers,
investors and decision makers face when choosing a location. MacLennan & O’Sullivan (2012, p.327)
argue that this leads to,
'Spatial and behavioural simplifications that allow a focus on market level, and wider,
emergent price and output equilibria. Arguably these microeconomic models are not
designed as frameworks for exploring real, individual behaviours, nor do they embrace
temporal or spatial influences that interfere with the generation and distribution of market
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Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium
K Muldoon-Smith, P Greenhalgh, R Conroy-Dalton,S Alvanides, H King & B Sparks
Urban transactions: Investigating the relationship between spatial preference and spatial configuration
in the city of Leeds
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signals. Essentially they act as a stylised basis for exploring the implications of well-
functioning price systems'
Rightly, in the authors' opinion, Maclennan and O'Sullivan (2012) argue that concentration on price
and migration outcomes alone, and their construal within an equilibrium market system, does not
reflect the dynamic reality of spatial commercial real estate markets.
Since Stiglers (1961; 1962) original work into the economics of information, the role of information
in markets coalesced into the information economics paradigm which examines irregularities in
information and consequent distortion and mis-representation. The signalling and search behaviours
of actors and agents with asymmetrical and incomplete information is now a central part of
theoretical and microeconomic research (Akerlof, 1960; Spence 1973; Stiglitz & Weiss, 1981;
Pissarides, 2000; Maclennan & O’Sullivan, 2012). However, the impact, and potential interference, of
spatial configuration upon market signalling and screening is relatively undeveloped. This is an
important omission, the innate nature of commercial real estate markets mean that satisficing
consumers typically engage in search activity before agreeing to either occupy or purchase a
business property. This process is undeniably spatial, therefore it stands to reason that analysing it
can provide additional insight into spatial preference and guide urban policy makers and developers
in providing property where potential occupiers actually need it. In addition, the preferential
characteristics of spatial behaviour can also help inform the design and configuration of the built
environment in ways that will be met with appreciation rather than hostility.
Addressing this issue, the method proposed in this paper combines space syntax analysis with web
site search data. The intention is to reveal how market participants attempt to transact with the
urban environment. Based on a one-year, search-based data set, the composite method moves
beyond traditional website analysis. Instead of assessing how users interact with website platforms,
it investigates how internet users utilise such resources to interact geographically with commercial
retail, office and industrial property resources. The use of web analytics and its internet of space, is
an explicit method of revealed preference which stands in contrast to the implicit measurement
assumptions in traditional hedonic analysis. Akin to space syntax formulations, the qualitative spatial
search process, measured through website activity, leaves a geographical trace. Both approaches are
an innovative epistemological solution that combines subjective data with objective methods of data
analysis. They offer a complimentary cognitive geographic transaction perspective, the first dealing
with spatial preference, the second the impact of urban configuration upon such inclination (indeed
integration scores can be construed as preferential values themselves).
The remainder of the paper is split into three interrelated sections: The first reveals a methodology
that seeks to understand the affects of spatial configuration on potential spatial preference, the
second applies this methodology to the city of Leeds. The empirical findings, first of all, illustrate a
method for revealing patterns of commercial real estate supply and potential occupier demand mis-
match. These findings are then benchmarked against urban configuration in order to test the
hypothesis that urban configuration could be a factor in this mis-match. The final section concludes
that spatial configuration does have a relationship with spatial preference, contingent upon the
relative type of commercial property under appraisal. It then rounds of with a summary of further
opportunities for research in the complimentary realms of urban land economics and space syntax.
2. Methodological Development
Stiglitz (2002) indicates that one of the biggest problems in economics is modelling both sides of the
equilibrium equation, supply and demand. We take up this challenge by framing commercial real
estate occupier search behaviour (web analytics) and urban configuration (space syntax) within an
experimental data set based on the National Valuation Office (VOA) summary valuation data set. The
VOA data set is an accurate depiction of commercial retail, office and industrial real estate in
England and Wales which is compiled every five years (and refined continually) for the purposes of
business rate taxation. This data set holds building characteristics data on every commercial building
in England and Wales and presents the opportunity of separation into type. For the purpose of this
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Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium
K Muldoon-Smith, P Greenhalgh, R Conroy-Dalton,S Alvanides, H King & B Sparks
Urban transactions: Investigating the relationship between spatial preference and spatial configuration
in the city of Leeds
94:5
paper the data set is separated into office, retail and industrial bulk class definitions which are
roughly analogous with standard property use classifications used in traditional planning regulation.
The proposed method is therefore composed of an accurate assessment of commercial real estate in
Leeds, which is then overlaid with two additional sets of data. The first is a space syntax angular
segment map which depicts spatial configuration, the second is a geographic analysis of website
analytics which depicts potential spatial preference. Tentatively, this produces a proxy model of
commercial real estate supply and demand which can be grounded in the built environment.
3. Rationale and Data Refinement
A spatial grid has been developed for the city of Leeds in a Geographical Information System (GIS) in
order to link the respective data sets. The grid divides the city into 2.5km
2
grid-squares which allows
for equal weighting between geographical segments, removing the bias of traditional administrative
boundary allocations. The grid methodology permits matching and linking of the three data sets
which would otherwise be impossible without a common unique property number (UPRN). This
demonstrates the possibility for matching with additional geographic data sets (for instance
demography, environment, crime/anti social behaviour, health, education, employment, business,
finance and economy) to space syntax at the finest micro grain using segment line and segment
proximity. The dimension for the analytical grid in Leeds has been chosen because of analytic
convenience. Encouragingly, because of the underlying characteristics of the underlying information,
it can be adjusted to any geographical dimension from the individual building to the entire city scale.
In order to analyse the relationship between potential urban preference and spatial configuration,
several stages of data refinement and analysis needed to take place. First of all the respective bulk
class property search types were mapped onto the Leeds geography (Figure 2), second, the search
preference data (web analytics) were geo-located into the grid template and aggregated. This was
then separated into 5 bands of preference based on search activity, and visualised using a classic
heat map (Figure 3). When potential search preference is overlaid with geo located commercial real
estate supply (Figure 4 and 5) it is possible to visualise patterns of mis-match in the location of
physical supply and where potential occupiers actually want to locate. This is a useful tool for
illustrating patterns of occupier demand and physical supply and forms a potential guide for the
location of future development.
What this stage of analysis does not do is explain the underlying processes that create such patterns
of mis-match. Consequently, the following space syntax exercise reveals the possibility for urban
configuration analysis. It investigates one quantity of the potential underlying dynamic that causes
mis-match; the potential relationship between urban configuration and potential spatial preference.
This stage of enquiry combined a segment analysis of Leeds with the Leeds grid in order to analyse
the affect of spatial configuration. Using the grid methodology, a proximity analysis was then
conducted in order to average angular integration for each 2.5km grid square. This enabled the
division of search preference scores by average integration scores in each grid square and the
creation of an indicator (Figures 6, 7 and 8) that combined spatial preference with spatial
configuration. The relative scoring system enabled the geographic banding and differentiation of
search preference/spatial configuration density in Leeds.
This stage in analysis enabled the introduction of spatial bias into potential occupier search
behaviour and can be expressed in the following conceptual model:
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Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium
K Muldoon-Smith, P Greenhalgh, R Conroy-Dalton,S Alvanides, H King & B Sparks
Urban transactions: Investigating the relationship between spatial preference and spatial configuration
in the city of Leeds
94:6
Figure 1 Analytical Model/Process
4. Limitations and Opportunities for Additional Analysis
The proposed method cannot claim to represent the multi faceted nature of economic demand.
Rather, it depicts one quantity of this journey, connecting spatial preference to the constraining
urban environment. A significant weakness in the occupier search method is that separation
between incidental and accidental versus intentional and actual transactional website visits cannot
be made. Also, the data does not necessarily approximate the full market, rather it is a snap shot for
two main reasons. Firstly, 2200 individual searchers were used to inform this study derived from the
Leeds City Council Business Premises Search Facility
(http://www.leedsandpartners.com/business/2233-2/). This is a relatively small degree of
transaction activity and cannot be taken to represent the commercial property interaction in Leeds.
Second, there are multiple transaction options for both buyers and sellers, not least the traditional
methods of walking into an estate agent or seeing a ‘To Let’ board, neither of which is part of this
data method.
Nevertheless, we contend that while the data may not be enough to describe all of the commercial
real estate transaction in Leeds, it is a suitable method for demonstrating the combined potential of
website analytics, GIS and space syntax. The ideal scenario would be an intelligent web resource,
perhaps based on page tagging and internet protocol (IP) address. This could be specifically designed
to maximise online experiences in order to drive consequent offline data capabilities. The analysis in
this paper relies upon search activity and urban network density in the first instance. This is just the
beginning of this method development. As towns and cities around the world continue to innovate it
seems prudent to suggest that this method could be supplemented by additional information. The
'internet of things,' wearable devices, urban data dash boards and augmented reality all reveal the
possibility of fully integrating spatial human cognition, perception and behaviour into spatial
preference and choice.
Bulk Class Property
Supply Geo-coding
Spatial Search
Preference Aggregation
Supply and Demand:
Patterns of Mis-match
Space Syntax
Integration
Urban Grid Formatting
Spatial Preference
Indicator
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Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium
K Muldoon-Smith, P Greenhalgh, R Conroy-Dalton,S Alvanides, H King & B Sparks
Urban transactions: Investigating the relationship between spatial preference and spatial configuration
in the city of Leeds
94:7
5. Results and Predictions
Figure 2 illustrates the case study area, the city of Leeds in the United Kingdom, combined with a
basic description of post code based search activity.
Figure 2 Search Behaviour in Leeds
Figure 3 ranks those areas that received most property search interest in 2012, into 5 bands of
popularity. The info-graphic is separated into office, industrial and retail bulk class classifications, in
order to articulate the different spatial characteristics of each property bulk class. The heat map
shows inter market dynamics, certain areas have more popularity than others. Predictably the CBD,
in relation to retail and office space, receives most interest while interest begins to dwindle toward
the periphery, criss-crossed with pockets of divergence where out of town office and retail parks
reside. Industrial property searches have most intensity toward the periphery, contiguous with
logistical infrastructure.
Figure 3 Potential Occupier Preference in Leeds
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Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium
K Muldoon-Smith, P Greenhalgh, R Conroy-Dalton,S Alvanides, H King & B Sparks
Urban transactions: Investigating the relationship between spatial preference and spatial configuration
in the city of Leeds
94:8
Figures 4 and 5 merge the property search process for each bulk class on to an analysis of property
supply in Leeds. The respective boxes in Figures 4 and 5 illustrate patterns of mis-match. For instance
where demand is high and supply is low (and vice versa), and when both supply and demand is
present. These market signals articulate the bounded interaction between occupier and property, in
particular the enduring restrictions in the conditions of fixed supply and its dislocation from occupier
demand. It is apparent that 'competitive' markets are not allocating resources efficiently in Leeds.
Figure 4 Patterns of Mis-Match: Office and Retail Supply
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Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium
K Muldoon-Smith, P Greenhalgh, R Conroy-Dalton,S Alvanides, H King & B Sparks
Urban transactions: Investigating the relationship between spatial preference and spatial configuration
in the city of Leeds
94:9
Figure 5 Patterns of Mis-Match: Industrial Supply
Why does the commercial real estate market not allocate resources efficiently? The central
hypothesis in this paper proposes that one of the reasons could be relative spatial configuration. The
initial proximity analysis proves that there is a relationship with potential spatial preference and
urban configuration. Typically, where grid square integration is greatest, potential search preference
is highest and vice versa. Yet, commercial real estate is not uniform, different bulk class typologies of
property have different locational characteristics. Figure 6, indicates that the relationship between
search preference for retail property and grid square integration has most density. This association is
compact and almost entirely confined in and around the Leeds CBD retail box of Headrow, Vicar
Lane, Boar Lane and Park Row. One explanation for this relationship is that pedestrian footfall,
movement and passing trade is most closely associated with traditional retail property. Supporting
this assertion the highest composite scores are in the centre of the CBD where each grid has the
highest quantum of relationships with the urban whole, diminishing toward the periphery as this
relationship weakens.
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Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium
K Muldoon-Smith, P Greenhalgh, R Conroy-Dalton,S Alvanides, H King & B Sparks
Urban transactions: Investigating the relationship between spatial preference and spatial configuration
in the city of Leeds
94:10
Figure 6 Spatial Preference and Angular Integration Composite Score (Retail)
Figure 7 indicates that the relationship between office property search preference and grid square
integration is not as conspicuous. Consistent with conventional office market theories, the strongest
scores are in prime CBD areas, however, the general pattern of scores are dispersed over a wider
area than retail. Composite scores diminish towards the secondary office market areas around the
periphery of the CBD. Reassuringly pockets of outlying composite scores accord with the recent
development of office property on the southern side of the River Aire and the development in recent
decades of office parks near the outer ring road areas.
Figure 7 Spatial Preference and Angular Integration Composite Score (Office)
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Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium
K Muldoon-Smith, P Greenhalgh, R Conroy-Dalton,S Alvanides, H King & B Sparks
Urban transactions: Investigating the relationship between spatial preference and spatial configuration
in the city of Leeds
94:11
One explanation for this dispersal is that this type of property is not reliant on footfall and passing
trade for business activity, it is more contiguous with accessibility and proximity to transport.
However, considerations of agglomeration such as proximity to workers and associated business
expertise are increasingly important and may also explain this relationship. Furthermore, office
property is not unrelated to retail property, it is part of a relational property market which is
interconnected (quite literally in mixed use commercial buildings). For instance, many of the office
workers in Leeds will form the client base for nearby retail outlets. However, it is difficult to discern a
meaningful relationship between urban configuration and industrial property search preference.
Figure 8 indicates that there is little relationship between industrial property and spatial integration.
The CBD has high integration but low relative search preference from potential occupiers, inversely
proportionate to the retail and office composite scores. This suggests that spatial integration is not a
primary concern for industrial occupiers.
Figure 8 Spatial Preference and Angular Integration Composite Score (Industrial)
The reason for this is that industrial property is more likely to exist outside of areas defined by
complex urban configuration, as such a spatial hierarchy is less obvious. Space hungry but
traditionally low value Industrial property is more likely to exist in peripheral areas more contiguous
with different types of accessibility. This type of accessibility is associated with logistical
infrastructure such as roads, rail and water networks which are not picked up in this type of space
syntax analysis. This conclusion is demonstrated by the high composite scores found along the banks
of the River Aire and Leeds and Liverpool canal.
8. Discussion and Conclusion
The findings in this paper may seem somewhat obvious upon first reading, however, they represent
the first known analysis of the relationship between where urban consumers actually want to locate
and the layout of the built environment. In addition, by focusing on commercial real estate, the
paper broadens the space syntax dialogue with urban economics into relative uncharted territory as
it has predominately focused on residential markets. Why is this important? It is important because
it suggests that spatial preference and related economic decision making isn't just based on a set of
maximising presumptions; the neo-classical invisible hand is contingent upon and potentially
constrained by spatial structure. In response to the initial research question,
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Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium
K Muldoon-Smith, P Greenhalgh, R Conroy-Dalton,S Alvanides, H King & B Sparks
Urban transactions: Investigating the relationship between spatial preference and spatial configuration
in the city of Leeds
94:12
Is there a relationship between urban configuration and spatial preference?
The tentative findings in this paper suggest that there is, however, this relationship is not uniform.
Findings suggest that it is important to separate commercial real estate into respective use classes in
order to understand the variable relationship between commercial real estate and spatial
configuration. The relationship between commercial real estate search preference and urban
configuration is most pronounced in and around the CBD area in relation to retail use and to a
certain extent, office use. Findings suggest that industrial property is not dependent on spatial
integration with stock and search preference more likely to occur in lower value areas coterminous
with transport infrastructure. Consequently more research will be needed to tease out the
relationship between this class of commercial property stock and spatial configuration. An additional
space syntax map layer incorporating specifically transport infrastructure, and processed at different
radii, could supplement the method for this bulk class of property. In addition, initial findings suggest
that a finer grid resolution would benefit the retail use class as this urban transaction appears most
acute and takes place in a tightly bound geographical area. Finally, due to the specific nature of
office use, this type of commercial property would benefit from a greater engagement with
accessibility.
Due in large part to the experimental nature of this enquiry some cautionary words are necessary.
The empirical findings in this paper only interrogate one half of the spatial mis-match equation, that
of occupier preference, it does not probe the characteristics of supply beyond location. However,
based on the findings in this paper, it is the intention that subsequent research outputs will use the
grid methodology to develop a working indicator of mis-match that includes additional data layers
including property stock, rental values and vacancy rates. This can then be benchmarked against
space syntax in order to assess how urban configuration enables and impedes commercial real
estate supply and demand. In addition, the combination of search behaviour and spatial
configuration reveals the future prospect of a spatial proclivity (an inclination or predisposition
toward a particular space) indicator which combines the predilection to locate, with the ability to do
so.
Taking this research focus forward, we call for an open dialogue within the space syntax community
in relation to human preference and decision making, its relationship with spatial configuration and
the role this plays in urban land economics. To some degree the heterodox reading of urban land
economics, based on cognitive (how we think) and behavioural (what we do) economics, deployed in
this study is at odds with the unashamedly reductive and formal principles of space syntax. However,
the initial findings in this paper indicate that the tools of space syntax also form a type of cognitive
behavioural map of urban configuration that can be used to question, rather than confirm, the
maximising choice presumptions of traditional urban land economics. This reveals the possibility of a
fruitful dialogue between heterodox economics and space syntax in a number of areas, some of
which are summarised into the following thematic areas:
The characteristics of real estate and urban morphology: Is the preference for certain
types of property (residential, retail, industrial, office) more susceptible/dependent on
urban layout and how does this influence the formation, functioning and evolution of cities?
Urban adaptation and resilience: In the future, cities are likely to be defined by their ability
to adapt to new circumstances. Does the urban network influence the ability of functional
land and buildings to attract new user groups and therefore their ability to adapt into new
forms of use?
Land use and market failure: Globalisation, economic turbulence and the changing nature
of supply and demand has led to the exponential increase in vacant property and land.
What can spatial configuration tell us about areas of market failure and success? Are certain
locations, because of their configuration, more resilient or vulnerable to abandonment and
the phenomena of urban shrinkage?
Urban land and property investment: Do existing methods of property valuation and
development appraisal implicitly capture/valorise spatial configuration? How does the
spatial network interact with the theory of rent, and consequently the determination of
commercial and economic viability?
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Proceedings of the 10th International Space Syntax Symposium
K Muldoon-Smith, P Greenhalgh, R Conroy-Dalton,S Alvanides, H King & B Sparks
Urban transactions: Investigating the relationship between spatial preference and spatial configuration
in the city of Leeds
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Economic theory: How can space syntax be used to compliment and challenge orthodox
economic beliefs such as bid rent theory and profit maximisation? How can space syntax
contribute toward alternative economic readings such as the cognitive and behavioural
economic debate, information economics and the cultural-institutional perspective?
Townsend (2013) argues that urban development is going through a fundamental re-boot. We
believe this provides an opportunity to enhance the current decision making methods which are
available to urban professionals. Undeniably, the ability to model, share and exchange information
across a whole city system is critical to better city outcomes (Leeds City Council, 2014). Indeed,
findings in this paper suggest that property search participants, by their conscious interactions within
the urban environment are beginning to play the role of urban programmers. This provides an
opportunity to be seized in terms of integrating human behaviour into the future city dynamic. The
task at hand is not easy, it will take considerable effort to understand and locate the recursive
human interaction in the built environment. However, it also seems prudent to suggest that this
endeavour will reveal considerable opportunities for space syntax practitioners and researchers. It
seems safe to assume that understanding how people make spatial decisions (in particular where
they want to locate) and indeed how such decisions are constrained by urban configuration, could be
a vital component in urban master planning in the future. In conclusion, Edward Glaeser (2006) in a
famous New York Times article illustrates the essence of this argument. He argued that life in a city
cannot be separated from its real estate market,
'We shape cities, cities shape real estate, real estate shapes cities and cities shape us.'
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... Therefore, consumer's movements were captured through analysis of street networks based on space syntax theory. Preceding studies (Rodriguez et al., 2012;Netzell, 2013;Muldoon-Smith et al., 2015;Giannopoulou et al., 2016;Adebayo et al., 2019), that have focused on relationships analysis between spatial configuration parameters (as a measure of accessibility) and urban economic variables, such as rental value and stock, have shown variations in the types of relationships between the investigated variables across different cities. ...
... This study sheds light on the application of spatial configuration techniques (space syntax theory) in analysing real (retail) property markets within city locations. The research contributes to the existing body of knowledge that has explored relationships between spatial accessibility and urban land values (Alonso, 1964;Song and Sohn, 2006;Rodriguez et al., 2012;Tal and Hardy, 2012;Netzell, 2013;Muldoon-Smith et al., 2015;Greenhalgh et al., 2020). ...
... • This research is the most robust and rigorous work on relationship analysis between spatial configuration parameters and urban economic data such as rental value and stock. The research takes two additional steps in contrast to previous studies (Rodriguez et al., 2012;Netzel, 2013;Muldoon-Smith et al., 2015;Giannopoulou et al., 2016), that have investigated spatial configuration parameters and urban economic variables. The research investigates the relationship between the retail property market and consumer movement (through spatial configuration), across three cities at two scales. ...
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Abstract The influence of consumer activities on the performance of retail locations and retail property market in cities can be critical. This is because where and how retail consumers choose to transact influences the locational performance of retail property markets in cities. This study investigates relationships between consumer movement and the performance of retail property markets (RPM) between 2010 and 2017 in York, Leeds and Newcastle. The study adopts the spatial configuration (street segment) analysis technique to compute consumer movement patterns (CMP) on the sampled cities’ layouts using DepthMapX to obtain the CMP variables; specifically, integration, choice and NACH metrics. The RPM data were sourced from valuation summary lists belonging to the VOA dataset and analysed using MS Access and MS Excel to obtain RPM variables, namely, changes in retail rental value and changes in retail stock across locations. The study investigates the spatial and statistical relationships between the CMP and RPM variables of cities at mesoscales and macroscales using QGIS and SPSS tools, respectively. The spatial investigations visualise locational relationships between changes in RPM variables and the spatial accessibility index of the CMP variables. The statistical analyses adopted Spearman-rho coefficients to investigate the rank correlation between the RPM and CMP variables. Further statistical (multiple regression) analysis were undertaken to estimate the locational performance of the RPM (dependent variable) using the CMP (independent variables) across all the estimable city layouts. Findings show that there are significant relationships between changes in retail rental value and all the CMP variables at York mesoscale, Leeds mesoscale and Newcastle macroscale. The results indicate that the relationship between configured consumer movement and changes in retail rental value are influenced by scale and city characteristics. The research is the first to estimate the location performance of commercial property by way of spatial configuration analysis. The research outputs are useful tools for retail property market actors to make locational decisions on investments, occupation, development and the strategic management of urban retail space. The study recommends further studies on the prospects of spatial configuration analysis and other methods in estimating the future performance of the commercial property market for optimum utilisation and the management of urban resources.
... assigned syntactic values of street network) correlate and explain some socio-economic variables, such as, property values (Chiaradia et. al, 2009;Law et al, 2013;Muldoon-Smith et al., 2015), pedestrian and vehicular movement pattern (Hillier, 1996, Peponis et al., 1997) and pattern of land use distributions (Stonor, 2013) metrics. However, a common shortcoming to all the aforementioned studies (Chiaradia et. ...
... However, a common shortcoming to all the aforementioned studies (Chiaradia et. al., 2009;Muldoon-Smith et al., 2015 andGiannopoulou et al., 2016) is that the relationship tests on variables do not consider the statistical significance of spatial configuration outputs (variables) on the property values variable. It can be contended that this unexplored relationships could shed new light on the statistical outputs in these studies. ...
Article
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Purpose The retail property market is constantly adopting to the continuous demand of retailers and their consumers. This paper aims to investigate retail property market dynamics through spatial accessibility measures of the City of York street network. It explores how spatial accessibility metrics (SAM) explain retail market dynamics (RMD) through changes in the city’s retail rental values and stock. Design/methodology/approach Valuation office agency (VOA) data sets (aspatial) and ordnance survey map (spatial) data form the empirical foundation for this investigation. Changes in rental value and retail stock between 2010 and 2017 VOA data sets represent the RMD variables. While, the configured street network measures of Space Syntax, namely, global integration, local integration, global choice and normalised angular choice form the SAM variables. The relationship between these variables is analysed through geo-visualisation and statistical testing using GIS and SPSS tools. Findings The study reveals that there has been an overall negative changes of 15 and 22% in rental value and retail stock, respectively, even though some locations within the sampled city (York, North Yorkshire, England) indicated positive changes. The study further indicated that changes in retail rental value and stock have occurred within locations with good accessibility index. It also verifies that there are spatial and statistical relationship between variables and 22% of RMD variability was jointly accounted for by SAM. Originality/value This research is first to investigates changes in retail property market variables through spatial accessibility measures of space syntax. It contributes to the burgeoning research field of real estate and Space Syntax.
... Tra i tanti esempi, la distribuzione della rendita fondiaria che, di fatto, è una misura dell'apprezzamento che i cittadini fanno rispetto al patrimonio edilizio ed ai diversi tessuti di una città, con tutte le considerazioni che ciò comporta, presenta una correlazione molto robusta con la distribuzione degli indici di centralità configurazionale (Greenhalgh, Muldoon-Smith, Conroy-Dalton, 2015;Di Pinto, 2013;2018). ...
Chapter
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Il valore del paesaggio nella pianificazione e nei progetti di trasformazione territoriale è ormai fuori discussione dal almeno un decennio. Diversamente, appare molto meno chiara ed univoca la prospettiva concettuale ed operativa da assumere, così come gli approcci, gli strumenti e le tecniche da adoperare a supporto delle scelte di breve, media e lunga gittata. Partendo da tale contesto, il presente contributo presenta alcune delle posizioni assunte negli ultimi anni, prospettando il ricorso a tecniche di analisi spaziale in grado di fornire un contributo non discorsivo agli studi di paesaggio, considerando quest’ultimo nella sua duplice natura di elemento quantitativo e di elemento qualitativo. Il contributo è strutturato in cinque paragrafi attraverso i quali, partendo dall’analisi delle posizioni concettuali sulla natura del paesaggio, si giunge alla presentazione di casi applicativi sviluppati con approcci innovativi.
... Spatial configuration of spatial layouts can calculate accessibility index of city space by estimating syntactic values of choice (through-movement) and integration (to-movement) through street segment analysis. Preceding studies by Chiaradia, et. al. (2009), Law et. al. (2013), Muldoon Smith et. al. (2015 and Giannopoulou et. al. (2016) using spatial configuration techniques have investigated and corroborated the relationships between spatial accessibility (computed through spatial configuration technique) and distribution of rental values of various real properties across different cities. However, it is unclear how the configured acces ...
Conference Paper
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Spatial layouts help to shape retail consumer movement, which in turn plays a role in determining the distribution of retailers and performance of retail space on city network. Spatial configuration can be understood through street segment analysis, computing to-movement (integration) and through-movement (choice) metrics within a given set of connecting street networks, making it possible to assign syntactic values to individual street segments (space). In this paper, such syntactic values for the cities of Leeds and York have been established to indicate a spatial accessibility index that can be used to understand potential human (consumer) movement on spatial layouts. Other studies have established relationships between computed syntactic values and ranges of socioeconomic activities, including land uses and urban value distributions. However, little is known about how configured (movement) metric outputs relate to changes in retail space's rental values (as proxy for retail space performance) across different city network scales. In response, this study investigates the relationship between retail space performance and consumer movement patterns (CMP) within sampled spatial layouts. The CMP are defined as spatial configuration metric outputs of integration, choice and normalised angular choice (NACH) metrics, computed at macro (city) and meso (city centre) scales. Street segment analysis on spatial layouts at city (macro) and city-centre (meso) scales were computed using DepthMapX tool to obtain the CMP variables. The computed syntactic values of CMP variables were then exported as point features into QGIS for analysis with the retail space performance within the sampled spatial layouts. Rental value data for years 2010 and 2017 were obtained from the Valuation Office Agency VOA datasets for York and Leeds. The two datasets were linked through a common key variable (Unique Address Reference Number) to compute rental value changes using MS Access and MS Excel tools. The rental value change table was also exported as point features into QGIS for geospatial analysis with the computed syntactic values of CMP variables. To achieve this, the study utilises vector grid (developed at 500m X 500m at city scale, and 200m X 200m at city centre scale for both cities) to a create uniform platform for all variables per grid. The relationship outputs between variables were investigated at macro city scale and meso city-centre scale for the two cities. The study reveals that there are variations in relationships between retail space performance and computed movement syntax across different scales of spatial layouts. The variables exhibit significant positive relationships at mesoscale (city centre), while variables exhibit weak correlation at the macroscale (city) for both cities. It further reveals that the integration (to-movement) metric has the most significant impact on retail space performance, with the through-movement metric having the least impact across all spatial layouts. On this basis, the study conclude that integration metric has the capability of signalling future of retail space (rental value) performance at city mesoscale layouts.
... Conforme estimativa da Organização Mundial da Saúde (OMS), no ano de 2050 poderá ser identificado que sete em cada dez pessoas do mundo estarão morando em cidades: as cidades estão se tornando cada vez maiores e mais densas (MULDOON-SMITH et al., 2015). No Brasil, percebe-se um rápido processo de urbanização e metropolização no início do século XX, com a observação de migração entre as regiões brasileiras e "um processo de concentração demográfica nos grandes centros urbano-metropolitanos regionais" (IBGE, 2015, p. 122). ...
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O objetivo geral desta tese é a proposição de uma metodologia alternativa de análise, avaliação e priorização dos Projetos Diretores de Mobilidade Urbana, capaz de auxiliar a tomada de decisão de investimento, considerando variáveis financeiras, econômicas e espaciais. Recursos escassos do governo defrontados com uma grande demanda por infraestrutura de mobilidade urbana nos municípios brasileiros, a tomada de decisão assume grande importância para os gestores. Foi identificado que não existem critérios claros para a seleção de propostas, isto vem ao encontro das críticas sobre o processo de seleção e priorização dos projetos de mobilidade urbana no Ministério das Cidades, indicando a necessidade de um modelo que possa aperfeiçoar a avaliação das propostas. Questões intrinsicamente econômicas que são apontadas nas atuais metodologias de análise de investimentos e projetos são variáveis de difícil conversão em benefícios financeiros para compor as avaliações financeiras. Neste sentido, a busca de uma metodologia que consiga avaliar variáveis de dimensões distintas, sem incorrer na perda de informações durante o processo de dar valor pecuniário corrobora para a importância do estudo em questão. Para tanto, a metodologia proposta utilizará o Escalonamento Multidimensional como ferramenta de análise multivariada para avaliar e priorizar os projetos usando variáveis econômicas dos projetos, variáveis espaciais da configuração urbana e os modelos de financiamento de cada um dos projetos. As variáveis econômicas tem sua origem na análise econômica presente nos projetos, assim como o modelo de financiamento dos projetos. As variáveis espaciais adquiridas a partir da Teoria a Lógica Social do Espaço ou Sintaxe Espacial permitem avaliar a integração das cidades antes do projeto implantado e simular sua implantação, sendo possível identificar se ocorreram melhoras nas condições da mobilidade urbana. O modelo foi aplicado em um estudo de caso concreto, selecionando projetos apresentados por cidades junto ao Ministério das Cidades, na Secretaria de Mobilidade Urbana, especificamente do Plano de Aceleração do Crescimento (PAC) Mobilidade Grandes Cidades e as cidades selecionadas foram Belém (PA), Brasília (DF), Manaus (AM) e Cuiabá (MT). O uso de Escalonamento Multidimensional aplicando variáveis econômicas, financeiras e espaciais mostrou-se coerente para facilitar a tomada de decisão, seja apontando o melhor projeto, seja identificando quão próximos e/ou distantes estão dos objetivos de determinada política pública. Essa última questão é de importância sem precedentes na administração pública, pois permite que mesmo projetos que se destacam entre os demais não sejam aprovados caso não atendam o conjunto de condições para o alcance dos objetivos propostos nestes programas.
... Tra i tanti esempi, la distribuzione della rendita fondiaria che, di fatto, è una misura dell'apprezzamento che i cittadini fanno rispetto al patrimonio edilizio ed ai diversi tessuti di una città, con tutte le considerazioni che ciò comporta, presenta una correlazione molto robusta con la distribuzione degli indici di centralità configurazionale (Greenhalgh, Muldoon-Smith, Conroy-Dalton, 2015;Di Pinto, 2013;2018). ...
Preprint
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Il valore del paesaggio nella pianificazione e nei progetti di trasformazione territoriale è ormai fuori discussione dal almeno un decennio. Diversamente, appare molto meno chiara ed univoca la prospettiva concettuale ed operativa da assumere, così come gli approcci, gli strumenti e le tecniche da adoperare a supporto delle scelte di breve, media e lunga gittata. Partendo da tale contesto, il presente contributo presenta alcune delle posizioni assunte negli ultimi anni, prospettando il ricorso a tecniche di analisi spaziale in grado di fornire un contributo non discorsivo agli studi di paesaggio, considerando quest’ultimo nella sua duplice natura di elemento quantitativo e di elemento qualitativo.
... Previous studies of city network have identified and corroborated that the centre of cities are the most accessible part of a city network (Alonso, 1964;Ståhle et al, 2005;Stonor, 2013;Muldoon-Smith et al, 2015). However, the figure 3 above has revealed that the global integration measure has not adhere to such principles that placed city centres as the most 6 | P a g e accessible part of a city, as blue lines (indicating poor accessibility or segregated streets) are found in obvious quantities at the centre the configured network as shown in the figure 3. ...
Presentation
Prelude This paper is an excerpt of an ongoing research that aims at investigating how performance (in terms of rents, footfall and turnover) of retail space can be enhanced through reconfiguration of spatial network. The network of City of York has been chosen to pilot this study due to it spatial pattern (Monocentric city), unique historic architecture background and the availability of footfall dataset among other datasets useful in the ongoing research.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of the introduction of the business rates retention scheme (BRRS) in England which transferred financial liability for backdated appeals to LAs. Under the original scheme, business rates revenue, mandatory relief and liability for successful appeals is spilt 50/50 between central government and local government which both share the rewards of growth and bear the risk of losses. Design/methodology/approach The research adopts a microanalysis approach into researching local government finance, conducting a case study of Leeds, to investigate the impact of appeals liability and reveal disparities in impact, through detailed examination of multiple perspectives in one of the largest cities in the UK. Findings The case study reveals that Leeds, despite having a buoyant commercial economy driven by retail and service sector growth, has been detrimentally impacted by BRRS as backdated appeals have outweighed uplift in business rates income. Fundamentally BRRS is not a “one size fits all” model – it results in winners and losers – which will be exacerbated if local authorities get to keep 100 per cent of their business rates from 2020. Research limitations/implications LAs’ income is more volatile as a consequence of both the rates retention and appeals liability aspects of BRRS and will become more so with the move to 100 per cent retention and liability. Practical implications Such volatility impairs the ability of local authorities to invest in growth at the same time as providing front line services over the medium term – precisely the opposite of what BRRS was intended to do. It also incentivises the construction of new floorspace, which generates risks overbuilding and exacerbating over-supply. Originality/value The research reveals the significant impact of appeals liability on LAs’ business rates revenues which will be compounded with the move to a fiscally neutral business rates system and 100 per cent business rates retention by 2020.
Article
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Problem: Existing planning and redevelopment models do not offer a holistic approach for addressing the challenges vacant and abandoned properties create in America's older industrial cities, but these shrinking cities possess opportunities to undertake citywide greening strategies that convert such vacant properties to community assets.Purpose: We define strategies shrinking cities can use to convert vacant properties to valuable green infrastructure to revitalize urban environments, empower community residents, and stabilize dysfunctional real estate markets. To do this we examine shrinking cities and their vacant property challenges; identify the benefits of urban greening; explore the policies, obstacles, and promise of a green infrastructure initiative; and discuss vacant property reclamation programs and policies that would form the nucleus of a model green infrastructure right-sizing initiative designed to stabilize the communities with the greatest level of abandonment.Methods: We draw our conclusions based on fieldwork, practitioner interviews, and a review of the current literature.Results and conclusions: We propose a new model to effectively right size shrinking cities by (a) instituting green infrastructure plans and programs, (b) creating land banks to manage the effort, and (c) building community consensus through collaborative neighborhood planning. Our model builds on lessons learned from successful vacant property and urban greening programs, including nonprofit leadership and empowerment of neighborhood residents, land banking, strategic neighborhood planning, targeted revitalization investments, and collaborative planning. It will require planners and policymakers to address challenges such as financing, displacement of local residents, and lack of legal authority.Takeaway for practice: We conclude that academics, practitioners, and policymakers should collaborate to (a) explore alternative urban designs and innovative planning and zoning approaches to right sizing; (b) collect accurate data on the number and costs of vacant properties and potential savings of different right-sizing strategies; (c) craft statewide vacant property policy agendas; and (d) establish a policy network of shrinking cities to share information, collaboratively solve problems, and diffuse policy innovations.Research support: Our field work was supported by technical assistance grants and contracts through the National Vacant Properties Campaign.
Chapter
The book draws together the economic literature relating to the supply of land for development. The standard view appears to be that the owners of land have no interest other than to allow their land to be used for the activity which would yield the highest income. But in reality this is not so and the book's aim is to demonstrate this, to set out the reasons and to show the economic effects of the fact that landowners have other motives. The book covers the supply of land for urban development and shows how land has characteristics which differentiate it from other factors of production which will also affect its supply for some uses, e.g. land is fixed in location and its price and value are inseparable from where it is. New light is cast on the market for land (by concentrating on the supply side), and on land use planning (by taking an economic viewpoint).
Article
Research into the spatial structure and functioning of local housing markets typically focuses on market outcomes, particularly house price changes and household movement patterns. Explanatory models are usually based upon a standard neoclassical analysis of the housing market. That approach de-emphasises the importance of imperfect information, real market processes and the signals they generate. The inherent nature of housing means that partly informed households typically engage in search activity prior to purchasing a property. Search is inevitably a spatial process. Housing market search modelling remains relatively undeveloped. However, analysis of this process can provide important additional insights to both better explain consumer behaviour and support more informed decision-making by housing planners and market providers. We illustrate these arguments using housing search data for Scotland.