A Longitudinal Study of Shared Space Street Improvements and Older People’s Quality of Life

Catharine Ward Thompson, Susana Alves, Peter Aspinall, Jenny Roe, Affonso Zuin

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The role of the outdoor environment has been stressed in current social and environmental policies in the UK and internationally. However, there are few studies addressing activities in the context of street settings, particularly for older residents. Residential streets represent a readily available outdoor space and a necessary route to activities outside the home and thus may be important determinant of quality of life. Understanding how environmental changes affect behaviour and use of these places may contribute to sound design solutions. This longitudinal study is part of the I’DGO TOO (Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors 2) research project (see www.idgo.ac.uk). It examines whether and how modifications to the residential street environment based on pedestrian-friendly, shared space approaches such as ‘Home Zones’ contribute to older people’s quality of life. Home Zones have recently been promoted by the UK government as part of their agenda to improve the sustainability and quality of life in low-income residential areas, modifying the roadway to slow vehicular traffic, increase pedestrian ease of use and allow the introduction of trees or planters to enhance the environment. The study was carried out in five locations across the UK where Home Zone projects were planned. Older residents were interviewed in two time periods – in 2008 before the environmental intervention took place and in 2010 after the environmental changes had happened. Each experimental site was matched with a control site (where no environmental change was proposed). Main dependent variables were quality of life (measured by CASP-19), health (measured by EUROQoL) and frequency of going outdoors. When comparing data from 2008 and 2010, the findings show that quality of life improved in both Home Zone and control streets over the time period. Health scores were higher after the intervention for residents in the Home Zone streets but lower for those in the control sites. Time spent outdoors also improved after the environmental change in Home Zone streets as compared with control streets. Frequency of going outdoors improved in Summer time for people in the Home Zone streets but overall patterns of activities showed no great changes.

The presentation will also identify the challenges and limitations of a study such as this, where the context of deprivation and the age of participants meant retention of study recruits was particularly difficult. Nonetheless, these findings may help inform the design of streets spaces in the UK by showing which aspects make a different to people’s everyday life.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2011
EventEDRA 42: Make No Little Plans... - Chicago, United States
Duration: 25 May 201128 May 2011


ConferenceEDRA 42: Make No Little Plans...
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Older people
  • quality of life
  • home zones
  • outdoor activity
  • longitudinal


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