The Shape of Things to Come: New Urbanism, the Grid and the Cul-De-Sac

David Hillier, Paul Cozens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract There is much debate in the UK, North America and Australia within both crime prevention and planning concerning New Urbanism and the design of suburban housing layouts. New Urbanism promotes high-density, mixed-use residential developments in 'walkable' neighbourhoods close to public transport, employment and amenities. One significant factor is New Urbanism's support for permeability and the preference of the grid street layout over the cul-de-sac (Morrow-Jones et al., (2004). The authors present the evidence as it relates to the grid and the cul-de-sac across a range of inter-disciplinary issues such as crime, walkability, social interaction, travel behaviour, traffic safety, cost and sustainability and housing preferences. This paper provides a brief history of the grid and cul-de-sac, discusses their respective strengths and weaknesses and concludes that any 'one-size-fits-all' approach is myopic and simplistic. It calls for a more holistic approach to understanding the localized and contextual dimension to suburban street layouts and how they may affect human behaviour. The paper highlights key areas for future research and calls for more inter-disciplinary debate and cooperation, particularly between environmental criminologists, planners and town centre managers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51 - 73
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Planning Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2008


  • planning
  • planning - human geography
  • planning, housing and land economy
  • urban studies


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