It is increasingly important to define what constitutes the unique character of our neighbourhoods, in order to identify what we value and should protect, to pinpoint areas for improvement and places which could be enhanced through sensitive change. But how do we define ‘character’ or a ‘sense of place’? How do we appraise the setting and site of a development area, in order that the essential character is retained and reflected in the design of new development? How can these qualities be communicated to decision makers and involve communities?

Characterising Neighbourhoods provides an accessible and richly illustrated guide to the practical methods of appraising neighbourhoods which are precise, well informed and engaging. It demonstrates how characterisation is used as an evidence base for the planning and management of neighbourhoods and urban areas.

The core focus is on a proven characterisation method developed and used by the authors and used by community groups, schools, planning and urban design students and professionals. It creates a common language used by these groups in evaluating places.

This guide provides a wealth of supporting information, including; briefing on the recognition of local architectural styles, periods and materials, detecting the influence of historic street layouts and property boundaries, townscape concepts such as scale and enclosure, and topographical characteristics.

Characterising Neighbourhoods is a valuable resource for practicing planners, urban designers and environmental professionals as well as students in these subjects.

part One|31 pages

The Context of Character

chapter Chapter 1.0|8 pages


chapter Chapter 1.1|12 pages

The Evolution of Characterisation

chapter Chapter 1.2|9 pages

The Influence of Character-in Planning

part Two|148 pages

The Components of Character

chapter Chapter 2.0|1 pages


chapter Chapter 2.1|7 pages

Whose Neighbourhood?

chapter Chapter 2.2|28 pages

The Shape of the Neighbourhood

chapter Chapter 2.3|40 pages

The Appearance of the Neighbourhood

chapter Chapter 2.4|12 pages

The Fabric of the Public Realm

chapter Chapter 2.5|9 pages

Neighbourhood Landscape Characteristics

chapter Chapter 2.6|11 pages

Defining Heritage and Community Assets

chapter Chapter 2.7|22 pages

Activity, Connectivity,-Uses and Functions

The Dynamics of Neighbourhood

chapter Chapter 2.8|17 pages


Perceiving Places and Spaces

part Three|44 pages

Undertaking Characterisation

chapter Chapter 3.0|3 pages


chapter Chapter 3.1|9 pages

Appraisal Techniques

A Review

chapter Chapter 3.2|9 pages

Undertaking Fieldwork

chapter Chapter 3.3|8 pages

Appraising Accessibility-and Condition

chapter Chapter 3.4|14 pages

Mapping Neighbourhood Character

part Four|9 pages

Characterisation and Placemaking

chapter Chapter 4.0|1 pages


chapter Chapter 4.1|7 pages

Characterisation in Policy, Decision-making and Design