Towards resilient and liveable neighbourhoods post Covid-19: evaluating neighbourhood quality in Sydney (AUS) and Newcastle upon Tyne (UK)

Drs Ozgur Gocer, Ayse Ozbil Torun, and Seraphim Alvanides

Funding period: 1 March 2022 – 28 February 2023
Type of funding: Other Grants

Partner organisations: The University of Sydney (Australia) and Northumbria University (United Kingdom).
Lead organisers: Drs Ozgur Gocer, Ayse Ozbil Torun, and Seraphim Alvanides.
Team members: Dr Jennifer Kent
Contact: Dr Ozgur Gocer

This research project was funded by a USF Pandemics and Cities grant.

Abstract: The onset of COVID-19 has prompted an unprecedented disruption to our collective daily routines. National “stay at home” orders and lockdown restrictions required people to work from home, significantly reducing overall movement and public transportation use, thereby restricting residents to spend more time within their neighbourhoods. While the mid and long-term implications of these changes have yet to emerge, researchers argue that the pandemic provides an opportunity to redefine neighbourhoods. The immediate home-environment has a direct influence on its residents’ physical and mental health as well as a high potential for creating sustainable and resilient environments. Hence, designing high-quality (i.e., healthy, resilient) neighbourhoods will continue to be critical in the post-pandemic era.

Since it is now generally accepted that people’s wellbeing is determined by multiple features of the neighbourhood environment, it is profoundly important to establish a comprehensive neighbourhood quality (NQ) approach that considers a wide range of physical and socio-economic attributes.

Specific aims of this research are to propose an objective, comprehensive assessment tool that can be used to assess NQ and test its feasibility through a pilot study in multiple neighbourhoods in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK and Sydney, Australia, both of which have initiated new planning interventions and policies as a response to the pandemic.

In the longer term, this collaboration will provide expertise for quantifying the social and built environmental correlates of neighbourhood quality that can inform plans and policies aimed to develop healthy and liveable neighbourhoods, contributing both to knowledge and policy. This collaboration will move the urban agenda for both countries that have recently focused on planning for increased quality of life. By identifying new tools effective for planning, we hope to assist in evidence-based criteria for local interventions aimed to support healthy communities, contributing towards the countries’ wellbeing and social welfare.