Prof Katie Williams

University of the West of England (UWE)

September 2009 to September 2012

AIM: The proposed research answers the question: how can existing suburban neighbourhoods be best adapted to reduce further impacts of climate change and withstand ongoing changes?

The research focuses on adaptations to the built environment, through changes to individual homes as well as on a larger neighbourhood scale (urban re-design). Suburbs are the most common type of urban area in the UK, housing 84% of the population. The project will identify successful adaptation and mitigation measures: these are classed as those that perform well technically (i.e. they protect people and property from climate change impacts and mitigate against further climate change) but also those that are the most practical and acceptable for those who have to make them happen.

The project uses 6 neighbourhoods from 3 cities as case studies (Bristol, Oxford and Stockport). In these areas, agents of change (e.g. home owners, elected members and planners) will help to determine successful adaptations. The project team will use modelling (of climate change, house prices and adaptation outcomes), tools that allow the participants to visualise how ‘adapted’ neighbourhoods will look, and deliberative methods from social sciences, to generate a portfolio of adaptation strategies that are feasible, and fully endorsed by stakeholders. The research design, methods and range of collaborators reflect both the technical and socio-economic aspects of adaptation. The findings will be communicated to a wide network of policy, practice, public and academic beneficiaries. The outcomes will contribute, practically, to securing a sustainable future for the UK’s suburbs in the face of climate change.


  • Develop climate change scenarios that are meaningful at the suburban neighbourhood scale.
  • Develop socio-cultural and governance change scenarios appropriate at the suburban neighbourhood scale.
  • Construct a typology of UK suburbs (identifying the ‘latent’ adaptation capacity of their built forms)
  • Develop a portfolio of potential adaptation (and mitigation) strategies for suburbs (including autonomous and planned adaptations, for individual dwellings and neighbourhoods) and cluster these into testable adaptation ‘packages’.
  • Develop a hedonic model to determine the impact of adaptation strategies on house prices in suburbs.
  • Determine the technical performance of the adaptation strategy ‘packages’, based on a number of criteria, including their impact on carbon reduction and the extent to which they ameliorate specific impacts (e.g. reduce heat or provide shade).
  • Determine the practicality of the adaptations (in terms of costs, scale, extent of re-modelling) for key agents of change.
  • Determine the acceptability of the adaptations (in terms of impact on house prices, visual intrusion, relative trade-offs between cost and benefits) for key agents of change.
  • Identify the adaptation packages that perform best across the three tests for different types of suburbs, with different adaptation capacities, given the different climate change and socio-cultural and governance change scenarios.