Neighbourhood design and fear of crime: A social-ecological examination of the correlates of residents’ fear in new suburban housing developments

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This study explored the relationship between neighbourhood design and residents’ fear of crime in new suburban housing developments. Self-report and objective data were collected as part of the RESIDential Environments (RESIDE) Project. A neighbourhood form index based on the planning and land-use characteristics that draw people into public space, facilitate pedestrian movement and ensure the presence of ‘territorial guardians’ was developed for each participant (n=1059) from objective environmental data. With each additional index attribute, the odds of being fearful reduced (trend test p value=0.001), and this persisted even after progressive adjustment for demographics, victimisation, collective efficacy and perceived problems. The findings support the notion that a more walkable neighbourhood is also a place, where residents feel safer, and provides further evidence endorsing a shift away from low density, curvilinear suburban developments towards more walkable communities with access to shops, parks and transit.

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