Wednesday, 25 July 2012

PhD Inspiration

Lots of things that had been long forgotten came to light during the move from the Darcy Building. Sally Sims was clearing out her office and came across the newspaper article that sparked a research project and her PhD topic. She shared the story with me...

The inspiration...

The report that appeared in the Sun Newspaper back in January 1997 concerned a couple live in Norden, Greater Manchester. They live with a huge electricity pylon in their back garden and claimed that the 400KV tower was giving them a painful shock every time they tried to cuddle. Electricity expert, Dr Rob Miles, confirmed that the shocks could be real as the pylon's electric field could be charging up the house making it easier to pick up a static shock. Intrigued, Sally decided to investigate the problem from a different angle: if people who lived in close proximity to pylons and electricity lines were experiencing problems with their living conditions, what happened when they tried to sell their property? How were property prices affected?

Sally found that overhead power cables can reduce the value of a house by as much as 38%. A pylon can erode a property's value by an average of 21%, compared with a similar property 250m away. Having a view of the pylon from the front of the house has a more negative effect than a rear view and homes with an otherwise picturesque vista are more blighted than other homes. The research also revealed that developers had started to place low-cost or social housing closest to the power lines where land was cheaper. They had also started to develop power line 'corridors' of open space screened by trees to help obscure them from view.

The result

For more details on the project take a look at the report on the Planning Resource website. An article also appeared in Urban Studies.

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