The study system


In order to examine the relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem services and urban form we are using a system which combines three neighbouring urban areas, with similar topographical and climatic features, but encompassing a range of different urban forms. These are Milton Keynes, Bedford and Luton.

Located c.75 km north of London, the three areas are similar in size, and together comprise an urbanised area of about 157 km2 and an urban population of c. 524000. Each lies within 20 miles of Cranfield University, meaning we can work effectively across the whole area, which we term the “Cranfield Triangle”.

The combination of these three urban areas offers a range of urban forms, history, management and existing urban ecosystem provision, ranging from the planned new town designed with green corridors and connectivity (Milton Keynes), through a typical smaller county town arising from a medieval layout (Bedford), to Victorian terraces and large industrial areas (Luton). From these we can find a full array of sizes, shapes, types and contexts of greenspace with which to explore the relationships between urban form, biodiversity and ecosystem services.