Why People Oppose New Residential Developments in Their Back Yard

This report looks to understand public concern around urban change in London.

London needs nearly 50,000 new homes to be built every year until 2035, but in 2015, just 24,620 new homes were completed. There are many reasons why supply has failed to keep up with demand, this report focuses on just one of them: opposition from local residents. 

Stopped: Why People Oppose Residential Development in Their Back Yard, looks at the nuanced reasons why people oppose residential development and identifies seven specific types of public concern around urban change in London:

  1. An increase in population will place a strain on local services 
  2. A decline in trust between residents, developers and local authorities 
  3. The local identity may be threatened 
  4. New developments may change the character or identity of the place they call home 
  5. Planning debates could be hijacked for alternative agendas 
  6. A sense of powerlessness arising from a lack of genuine engagement 
  7. The fear of noise and safety impacts from construction 

On their own, common solutions such as consultation, neighbourhood planning, incentives, and Community Land Trusts are incapable of dealing with these objections. 

The report argues that developers and local authorities must listen to the concerns of local residents to gain an accurate understanding of the types of concerns around housing developments, before attempting to address them. It suggests that by developing solutions to address the challenges on a specific site, it should be possible to simultaneously improve the quality and increase the quantity of new residential development. 

The report puts forward a series of recommendations to developers and local authorities, including: 

  • Be more personal. People develop an intimate connection with the area in which they live. Ensuring that development fits with people’s understandings of place, therefore, requires developers to understand the nuanced ways in which people understand and identify with their area. This requires a more personal approach, taking the time to listen to, discuss and elicit residents’ understandings. Having a known, trusted individual that can be contacted to make inquiries or complaints, rather than a faceless call centre.  
  • Be more proactive. As much as possible, services also need to be expanded before the extra demand for them is generated. Local authorities also need to get ahead of the game, leveraging their power as the ultimate decision-makers, to set and enforce clear expectations for the quality of engagement from developers. 


This report was generously supported by