New National Engineering Policy Centre Report: Sustainable Living Places – a systems perspective on planning, housing and infrastructure

The National Engineering Policy Centre (NEPC) is undertaking a project to develop a shared perspective on the current system of housing and infrastructure delivery in the UK.

This work identifies interdependencies across that system that affect the success and quality of housing, planning and infrastructure in the UK and opportunities for change within the system, described as leverage points.

Report: Sustainable living places (5.05 MB)


The project produced a systems map of the current system for housing, planning and infrastructure through a series of mapping workshops. This map identifies points of intervention in the system that promote sustainable, happy low-carbon places.

This project is a case study for how the systems dynamics can be usefully applied to policy making and will continue to develop. It currently feeds into a parallel policy workstream which is developing and deploying systems thinking in policymaking. This will include tools, techniques and training material to support decision makers.

Logos of various organisations involved in mapping

Thinking Globally

To engage in global dialogue around Sustainable Development Goal 11 and link up stakeholders working across cultures, countries and sectors, we hosted a Thought Leadership Breakfast at the Global Grand Challenges Summit in September 2019, chaired by Professor Dame Henrietta Moore on the challenge of delivering sustainable living places in a global context.

Tim Chapman, Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Sustainable Living Places Working Group Chair, said:

‘Whilst there are no ‘Silver Bullets’ to solve the UK’s housing crisis, we hope this report inspires a shared understanding of the system and brings together multiple disciplines and views to tackle the complex system of systems of planning, housing and infrastructure. This is aided by the identification of practical leverage points that a cross-sectoral effort can, working with government, embed low carbon modes of transport and utilities delivery into place-making, and embed progress towards carbon reductions.’


If you are interested in learning more about the project, please email

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