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Supporting Smart Urban Growth: Successful Investing in Density

This research analysed the characteristics of “good density” in relation to investor returns, carbon emissions and infrastructure costs to city governments. The research has evidenced that, as well as being better for real estate investors, well-designed and compact cities are also better for the community and the environment.

Funded by the Urban Land Institute in association with New Climate Economy, the study is the first of its kind to quantify the impact of quality of place on overall property returns. Findings show links between well-managed densification (good density), and higher risk-adjusted returns, capital values and investments in commercial real estate; they also demonstrate that good density enhances resilience and prosperity of an area in the long-term and is therefore more likely to continue providing sustainable returns for investors over cities without good density. It sets out six good density characteristics: clustering structure (land use patterns within cities and regions), economic and employment infrastructure (availability of investment, jobs, and talent), built infrastructure (physical density and mixture of uses), green and blue infrastructure (hedgerows, woodlands, ponds, waterways etc.), public transport infrastructure, and good governance.

Research Team: Kathy Pain (Henley Business School), Daniel Black (Daniel Black & Associates, Bristol), Sue Grimmond (Meteorology, University of Reading), Jon Blower (Institute of Environmental Analytics, University of Reading), Alistair Hunt (University of Bath), Stanimira Milcheva (formerly Henley Business School), Ben Crawford (Meteorology, University of Reading), Nick Dale (University of Bath), Sam Doolin (Institute of Environmental Analytics, University of Reading), Senjuti Manna, Shuai Shi, Ruth Pugh (Henley Business School)