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Do all roads lead to equality?

Occasionally we will be undertaking larger analysis to see what the effects of a filtered neighbourhood on Burnage and Levenshulme might be, and in our first we are starting with one of the biggest.

“The roads receiving the most benefit from the scheme are the most affluent and well-off already, and the ones receiving the least benefit are the most deprived. This scheme will only make inequality worse.”

Is this true? Well, let us look at the data. Specifically for the original Levenshulme Bee Network active neighbourhood plans. These came in for criticism regarding some of the planned changes, and are set to be modified, but they represent the most recent map we have. So we will be using this to judge “the schemes” plans, and to define affected and unaffected roads.

First we defined deprivation by the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (Last published 2019). We took unfiltered non-main roads (i.e. Roads that were through roads and still will be through roads) and the filtered roads (roads that allowed through traffic that will now be resident access only) and looked at how highly ranked for deprivation they were.

Figure 1: Overall index of multiple deprivation rank by postcode/street

As we can see, there is no clear split between filtered and unfiltered roads. In fact the least deprived roads are the ones that would still be receiving through traffic.

A point well worth making is that the index of deprivation rank ranges from 1 (most deprived) to 32,844 (least deprived). This means almost all streets within the scheme, particularly those receiving filters to stop through traffic, are within the 20% or even 10% most deprived areas across the whole of the UK. Do we want to deprive these areas of lower through traffic? We all love Levenshulme and Burnage, but trying to draw lines between which areas are “deprived” and which areas are “affluent” is clearly not something that can be assumed without data.

Most deprived areas

Here below we can see two of the most deprived areas according to IMD, of which both were due to receive interventions. The West Point Gardens area including Buckhurst Road/Osborne Road/Victoria Road has come in for particular criticism, due to some houses being worth a significant amount of money. However searching on Zoopla does not account for the hidden poverty in some properties where 5+ families can live in one converted town house.

But if you are only looking at house prices, you are only seeing a tiny slice of the housing pie as can be seen on Osborne Road.

Home ownership data for Osborne road taken from streetcheck.com, based on 2011 census data [most recent comprehensive housing dataset]. Bear in mind census data, like all other address data, is not perfect, and some streets can include small amounts of data from other adjacent roads.

So now we know looking at house prices alone will not give us the full picture of deprivation, where can we go for this information, and is there anything more recent than 2011?

There is, and it’s what we used to construct the graph at the start of this blog. The indices of multiple deprivation has a visualiser tool.

So let’s look at the Levenshulme and Burnage active neighbourhood proposed map, and put it side by side with the most deprived areas in the neighbourhood.

You can’t see detail yet, but it’s clear the most deprived areas (the darkest) areas are the ones in the top left.

Lets look at these areas the interventions they were due to receive (drag the icon in the centre to swipe between IMD data and the original proposal):

Apologies for the imperfect alignment, but you get the picture!

This area was ranked 2867 out of 32,000, and is the 2nd most deprived in Levenshulme, it was due to receive three filter interventions. Two simple filters (the yellow circles, low cost interventions such as planters), and a split junction to prevent through traffic.

Again not perfect alignment, but the picture is clear.

This is the most deprived area involved in the scheme, and was due to recieve 4 filter interventions. A bus gate, and 3 simple filters, there was also a filter planned for just outside this region that would have further cut through traffic.

So clearly, the two most deprived areas in the scheme were set to recieve alot of attention.

This shows the risk of presuming how deprivation is spread across out neighbourhood, and could end up negatively affecting the very people we want to protect most. The most deprived and most vulnerable. We must ensure we aren’t lead by our assumptions to easy answers, and use data to get as close to the truth as we can.

Of course, this whole discussion about some roads being overburdened more is only a problem if you assume some roads will shoulder a much larger amount of traffic than others due to the scheme. Is this true in the long term?

A trial is needed, but evidence from similar schemes suggests that unfiltered roads do not receive extra traffic, following a period of adjustment. However it is still vital to push for improvements to all streets in the area, whether filtered or unfiltered.

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Thanks for reading. If anyone has any queries about the data, or suggestions on how to capture more information about our neighbourhood, get in touch via our contact page.

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Postcodes for streets were obtained from https://www.freemaptools.com/ by scanning for all postcodes along each street. These were then cross referenced to google maps and https://www.streetlist.co.uk. Not every postcode has a different entry on the IMD (single streets have many postcodes) so this was done to ensure every street was captured fully.

All analysis was performed using R studio.

IMD data using these postcodes was obtained from the governments IMD postcode lookup here: http://imd-by-postcode.opendatacommunities.org/imd/2019

This data was cross referenced to the governments IMD data that sorts by LSOA http://dclgapps.communities.gov.uk/imd/iod_index.html?fbclid=IwAR0SNvoViFKhEofn3XR_2gXwXEjhYwSVgDHBavixNH055wahdSqLUvJg65Q

The majority of the data used for the IMD indicators is sourced from administrative data such as benefit records from the Department for Work and Pensions. Census data is used for a minority of indicators where alternative data from administrative sources is not available. As far as is possible, the data sources used in each indicator were based on data from the most recent time point available.

Street postcodes were elicited and filtered/unfiltered status assigned prior to the obtaining of IMD data, to acocunt for potential risk of bias.

If you feel your street is missing please contact us with its name and filtered/unfiltered status and we will add it to the next iteration of the analysis.

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