Urban planning can reduce the opportunities for crime to occur and, at the same time, the fear of crime. Misconceptions about crime are a barrier to affluent and equitable urban planning. Residents often oppose compact and mixed development, despite their economic, social, and environmental benefits due to the constant misguided fear that density increases neighbourhood crime.

Lighting, landscaping and security entry/exits might determine to elevate the fear of crime or demote the same. Usually, people living in single-family housing are aware of their locality and street, and their sidewalks are usually used by their neighbours. They take up the entire responsibility of their house and hence recognise any alien in the society.

On the other hand, people living in high rises usually do not take up the responsibility of the common areas shared by the entire society. Hence, recognising an alien in the building is very difficult for them.

Can crime be mitigated through good Urban Planning? - Sheet1
rendered recreational activities (Studiogang.com, 2021)

Failure of Pruitt Igoe

Pruitt Igoe is a similar case to this study. The main idea of Pruitt Igoe was to give affordable housing to low-income groups. It freed the ground level and first level for community and gathering spaces. Every third floor was a space for basic services of the building that included waste collection, laundry, communal room, etc. There was enough space outside the building that was supposed to be common areas. However, since the living units were notably distant from the community spaces, the people living there did not feel the responsibility towards those areas. 

Gradually, the community spaces started becoming unsafe. Also, corridors, elevators, and staircase lobbies started becoming unsafe as many units were unoccupied, and unattended spaces became unsafe for the residents. Pruitt Igoe was demolished and now serves as a bad example for lack of design in public housing.

Can crime be mitigated through good Urban Planning? - Sheet3
Pruitt Igoe  (Blogspot.com, 2021)

Strategies for Urban Planning 

  • Minimum Common areas in Mixed Housing

The larger the common area, the lesser will be the ownership taken by the people. It also becomes difficult to take charge and secure all the activities taking place in such spaces. As a result, it is easier to attempt crime in such spaces with the least security.

  • Maximised Private Ownership

When people feel responsible for a patch of land they own, they tend to take the maximum care possible and attend to all the new activities taking place in their space. Hence, they are fully aware of the space and can try to take measures to avoid any probable mishap.

  • Minimised Permeability

The entry and exits should be properly secured and trespassing should be prohibited. Too many entries and exit points should not be introduced on a plot because it reduces the control of security by decentralizing it.

As people usually use open spaces, in case of a crime, if more open spaces are provided, there is a possibility of the criminal getting caught. 

  • Good Fencing

Privately owned lands should be given good fencing to filter out or restrict the entry of strangers without permission. The fencing should be higher than the human height.

  • 24 Hour use of Mono Functional Zones

 Some spaces like industrial parks, certain economic zones, etc. are used only for a fixed amount of time which makes the area isolated during the unused hours of the day. This attracts malicious intent of actions. Mono-functional spaces should be used for different programs and made multi-functional to have sustained human activity in the area.

  • Eye on streets

Street vendors are a boon to society. They fulfil the regular needs of the citizens and occupy large chunks of land on the streets. Street vendors can be a medium to keep an eye on the streets as criminals will be cautious of causing any harm to people in front of crowds. 

  • Redesign Internal Street System

The internal street system in a neighbourhood should incorporate cul-de-sac on certain streets to make the planning difficult to escape from. Neighbourhood residents should be arranged in a way that they can overlook the majority of the society they live in. Also, bus routes should be planned around residences and through streets that are not activated.

Can crime be mitigated through good Urban Planning? - Sheet2
Indian market activities (Service, n.d.)
rendered recreational activities (Webwriterspotlight.com, 2021)

To provide a secured environment, two processes should be implemented:

  1. To improve the urban environment by conscious urban planning, and 
  2. To upgrade the population living in the socially deteriorated districts.

Strategies for Government

  • At Policy Level

Analyzing statistics of the relation of crime rate to urban planning. Survey areas suffering from bad living conditions can be classified according to their physical, social, and economic conditions. The spaces where the crime rate is increasing can be assessed. Government can impose policies based on these conclusions. Execution of these policies should also be followed up, and the failure (if any) should be immediately given attention to.

  • At Physical Planning Level

Land use mapping is to be done thoroughly with open spaces provided near privately owned lands to socialize the neighbourhood, and thus, people help each other in the hour of any mishap. Deserted zones should be either favoured with favourable activity planning or provided with strict security. Grey areas should be identified and taken care of on the planning level. Establishment and management of all public squares and adequate provision of services in these squares.

  • At Local Area Planning Level

Installation of CCTV Cameras on various nodes to keep the area under surveillance and create fear in the minds of criminals of getting caught. 

Can crime be mitigated through good Urban Planning? - Sheet4
Public activities (Tosshub.com, 2021)

A city is a place where people are chasing their dreams, trying to construct the best livelihood they can for their family, and build homes to feel safe. If the urban planners are not able to allow people to feel free in their city, in my opinion, that city is a failed project. The role designers can play in every aspect of human life is vital, and a thorough vision with good planning is the only way out of avoiding crime in cities. 

“What are you able to build with your blocks?
Castles and palaces, temples and docks.
Rain may keep raining, and others go roam,
But I can be happy and building at home.”

Robert Louis Stevenson 


Smriti considers Architecture to be an expression of art and is on the road of building many such expressions for the world to experience. She is passionate and motivated to explore the countless angles of architecture design and media. She stays positive and loves to travel.