Cityform-India network: Urban social sustainability in India's rapidly growing cities

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Sch of Health & Social Studies


The rapid growth rate of India's urban areas is a clear sign of its recent economic progress. One third of India's 1.1 billion people live in Indian towns and cities which are growing in varying and complex ways. The rapid demographic growth in and around India's urban areas is changing the physical dimensions of the city, such as its size, shape, density, land uses, layout and building types: a complex mixture of numerous characteristics including infrastructure and transportation. Increased urban development is putting intense pressure on existing urban infrastructure to support residents' quality of life. Rapid urban growth can take the form of high-density urban forms which are associated with poor living conditions, high levels of pollution and high incidence of crime. Urban growth and associated changes in urban form are clearly unsustainable, further exacerbated by (and contributing to) problems including regional displacement of rural populations into urban areas and localized social inequality.While there is growing awareness of these issues in India, gaps exist in urban policies and there is a lack of clarity in mechanisms for implementing development and planning policies at the local level. The main contributory factor of such gaps in policy is the dearth of knowledge and understanding of how the urban environment affects social sustainability, i.e. residents' wellbeing, quality of life and everyday life, in India's cities. There is therefore an urgent need in India for empirical evidence examining socially sustainable urban form to develop evidence-based government strategies and urban development policies. CityForm-India is a proactive research network aimed at addressing this need now. CityForm-India is a network of academics, policy makers and key stakeholders in the field of urban sustainability. The aim of the network is to create and sustain an exchange of international knowledge and expertise on aspects of culture, society, economics, environment, infrastructure, drivers of urban growth and urban policies which are relevant to the provision of socially sustainable living environments for India's urban residents. This research network is led by the multidisciplinary Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD: Sustainable Urban Environments (SUE)) and aims to facilitate the sharing of experience, expertise and knowledge of network members to identify the arising research challenges and opportunities within the context of India's rapidly growing cities. Network members have extensive collective research expertise and experience from a range of disciplines including urban economics, housing policy, urban design, infrastructure, transport, health and wellbeing. Through a series of networking events, knowledge exchange and dissemination activities held in India and the UK, the network will be the foundation of long-term research collaboration between academic and non-academic UK, Indian and international members. Throughout the network, a website will be developed as an important means of communication and dissemination. This will include public access to a discussion forum, webcasts and presentations from events as well as regular emails to network members, newsletters and the provision of secure online space for the sharing of working papers. Through these and other knowledge sharing and dissemination activities, the network members will make a significant contribution to knowledge in the field of socially sustainable urban form culminating in the generation of grant proposals for future empirical research.


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Dempsey N (2009) Briefing: UK-India research network in Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Urban Design and Planning