Evaluating the Impact of Light-rail on Urban Gentrification: Qualitative Evidence from the N.E.T
Edward Dawes, Arup
This paper seeks to develop a better understanding of the extent to which investment in light-rail influences the level of socio-economic regeneration in urban areas, through analysing gentrification indicators within a tram corridor in Nottingham.
Light-rail transit (LRT) is regarded as one of the most effective means of improving the quality and performance of public transport provision within urban areas. Among these supposed benefits is the ability of light-rail to influence regeneration of derelict and deprived areas of the urban environment through significantly improving the level of accessibility to key amenities and services located within central areas. Despite this association, the extent of the relationship between light-rail and investment and the regeneration of land remains one of the most contested areas of the planning policy literature.
This paper therefore aims to develop a better understanding of to what extent investment in light-rail has an influence on the level of social and economic regeneration in urban areas, through the analysis of the influence of urban gentrification in Nottingham. Original research will be presented which found that the tram corridor has shown stronger growth in housing value of up to 10-15% in the period prior to the global economic recession.
However, the results also begin to challenge the conventional understanding of the relationship between light-rail and urban regeneration, instead highlighting the pivotal role that geography and ‘place’ have in determining the extent to which investment in transport infrastructure translates into changes in the urban environment. The paper also provides a greater insight into the competitive position of light-rail relative other transport modes and the extent to which this impacts on the demand and desirability of residential/commercial land and property.
The paper concludes with calls for greater research into this complex area of transport assessment and identifies a requirement for better ex-ante and ex-post monitoring as part of the delivery process for urban rapid transit schemes. This will allow practitioners to build a more robust evidence base upon which highly accurate with/without scheme comparisons can be formulated.
Association for European Transport