Livability Attributes in Practice -A Comparative Comparison of Livability Agendas in the USA, UK and Australia

Document Type : Original Articles


1 Assistant Professor, Department of Urban Design and Planning, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, Shahid Beheshti University.

2 Professor, Department of Urban Design and Planning, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, Shahid Beheshti University.


The relational quality of the human and living environment, which is called Livability, is one of the most fundamental qualities of the environment. The term livability means the degree to which the environment supports living process of residents. Review of policy plans and several agendas shows that the quest for livability is currently a key urban issue throughout the world. It is an ensemble concept whose factors include or relate to a number of other complex characteristics or states, including, quality of both life and place which is referred to the ability of a place or a community to meet the needs of its citizens. Although the definition of livability varies from community to community, a given community’s goals can be approached, and community planning for livability can be achieved, using community-derived indicators. At the same time, community efforts were launched across the country to identify indicators of livability. This article aims to review of the agendas for developing these measures. The task presented to this committee was broad, encompassing identification of the data and measures needed to make local and regional public decisions on transportation, land use planning, and economic development that aim to enhance livability. Through the review of livability agenda in the three areas - the United States of America, United Kingdom and Australia – it became clear that, in the late 1980s, livability emerged as a key concept in USA with an emphasis on economic dimension. In the UK through the definition of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, livability was at the core of urban neighborhood planning. It is important for a neighborhood to provide a quality and good environment which is clean, safe and green. The Western Australian Planning Commission in Australia also defines that Liveable Neighbourhoods has been prepared to implement the objectives of the state planning strategy which aims to guide the sustainable development of communities. Whilst we believe that there are specific differences between scales of livability agenda in these areas, nevertheless, the similarities are much greater.