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Preventing ASB through innovative design

How tackling antisocial behaviour was central to the redesign of North Prospect

When planning the regeneration of North Prospect, one thing was clear to residents and PCH alike: cracking down on antisocial behaviour needed to be a top priority. 

It’s no secret that North Prospect used to have a bad reputation. Swilly, as it was then known, was associated with high levels of crime and antisocial behaviour. Which is why PCH Regeneration team had to think very carefully about designing new neighbourhoods which could help to prevent crime from day one.

To ensure the redevelopment of North Prospect met the brief, PCH used a scheme called Secured by Design, an initiative which designs buildings and their surroundings in a way that deters crime and antisocial behaviour. By adopting this scheme, PCH could be sure that the North Prospect of tomorrow would be a more welcoming place for residents. 


When planning for the regeneration first began, PCH invited officers from Secured by Design, building developers, and local authority planners, to hear the views of everyone involved in the redevelopment.

Over a number of meetings, lots of measures were agreed upon. For example, increasing ‘natural surveillance’ would ensure that crime would be less likely to flourish. The built environment would feature changes to increase the transparency of areas between homes, without affecting privacy.

Simple steps, like replacing front garden hedges with railings and ensuring that homes had views over the neighbourhood, would act as a natural deterrent to would-be criminals, or loitering youths. Small and hidden alleyways would also be removed or made more visible.

Many years and millions of pounds later, North Prospect has been reimagined. The results of ‘designing-out’ antisocial behaviour soon became apparent to the police. In 2017, Devon and Cornwall Police reported falls in recorded crime in North Prospect in 2016 compared to 2007 (pre-development) in three key neighbourhood crime categories: residential burglaries dropped by half, criminal damage was down 84 percent and vehicle offences were down by 78 percent.

Senior Housing Officer for PCH, Adam Stockman, believes that the built environment plays a central role in preventing the spread of ASB. He said: “Access to green space is of massive benefit to the community. Green areas are proven to improve how people feel about the places that they live which then can help with our mental health.

“An example of this we are currently considering is a project to remove unnecessary railings at Devonshire and Edgecombe House, to replace them with raised beds with shrubs and flowers. These will then act as borders, instead of fences, whilst being good for nature.”

He added: “If you have an idea about how your area could be improved with similar measures, please let us know by contacting your housing officer on 08082 306500.”