The study proposes to operationalise sustainable development within an urban environment and at a variety of scales - strategic to neighbourhood. The study examines the convergence of ideas within urbanity and sustainability, identifying inconsistencies and contradictions within current thematic research. It proposes a consensual approach to understanding the linked substantive, analytical and procedural attributes underlying a developing chronology of concepts relating to sustainability. This chronology of ideas provides the basis for a systems-based framework that recognises the complexity of urban areas. The study advocates and introduces an adaptive framework of spatial indicators of urbanism to simplify and communicate an holistic overview of attributes of sustainability. This interpretation of holism is based on thematic (qualitative / quantitative) and scalar (strategic / local) based integration on a consistent (spatial) basis. This adaptive framework is designed to be suitable for locality specific subjective interpretations of sustainability. It is linked to a non-expert methodological 'toolkit' that places an emphasis on currently undervalued qualitative and spatial data collection methods. This is a mixed and multi- method approach to understanding spatial (urban) systems that complements empirical data sets. A series of case studies are used to test and refine qualitative collection from primary and secondary sources and spatialisation methods. Sample material is then used to test the utility and ease of use of GIS for data manipulation, analysis and modelling. Two detailed and complementary applications of the adaptive framework, the data inventory / collection methods and the use of GIS based digital spatial databases are used to illustrate the potential range of applications and highlight problems of use. A number of possible future developments of the study are suggested for maximising the utility of the conceptual approach and a developed spatial database for a variety of agents, exploring additional dimensions of the urban system
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