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Publication Detail
The spatial configuration of minority ethnic business diversity in London’s high streets
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Vaughan LS, Khan S, Tarkhanyan L, Dhanani A
  • Publisher:
    Instituto Superior Técnico, Departamento de Engenharia Civil, Arquitetura e Georrecursos, Portugal
  • Publication date:
  • Place of publication:
    Lisbon, Portugal
  • Published proceedings:
    Proceedings of the 11th International Space Syntax Symposium
  • Editors:
    Heitor T,Serra M,Silva J,Bacharel M,Da Silva L
  • Status:
  • Name of conference:
    11th International Space Syntax Symposium
  • Conference place:
    Lisbon, Portugal
  • Conference start date:
  • Conference finish date:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    diversity, land use, morphology, minority ethnic businesses, London
Previous research has shown that the local town centre can be a space of considerable socio-economic diversity, manifested in its being a place of work and community activity in addition to retail activity. The long-term sustainability of the town centre has been shown to correspond to its configurational spatial signatures. Where high streets exhibit a high ethnic diversity amongst proprietors, there appears to be a corresponding diversity of land use and goods, with a tendency to adapt and alter space for greater economic benefit. Small independent units are often further subdivided to accommodate a greater number of services and products. In the context of the local high street in the UK, the small independent Minority Ethnic Business (MEB) is a common feature, whether it is a halal butcher, an Indian chemist or a Chinese takeaway, serving both an embedded local minority community as well as often having a wider mainstream appeal. This paper seeks to examine the relationship between spatial configuration and socio-economic diversity of the local high street to investigate whether the potential for diversity is embedded in its contextual spatial characteristics. For the purpose of this study using nationally defined town centre boundaries, ten town centre case studies were selected from around London based on their residential ethnic profile and the level of deprivation of the area. Building on the literature that shows that land use diversity is associated with the persistence of smaller town centres, we test the proposition that it is also associated with the presence of MEBs. Here we tested the degree of impact of MEB presence on commercial diversity across these case studies. Additionally, the study examines the spatial and morphological signatures of these case studies and how these relate to the context of MEB presence and land use diversity, finding a strong relationship between spatial and urban form factors and a greater presence of MEBs. The study concludes that given the importance of spatial accessibility coupled with built form diversity to the presence of MEBs, greater attention needs to be given to the embedded social value in the spatial characteristics of town centres.
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