Beyond bricks: 10 ways to build better communities

Redrow has released a blueprint for government and the housebuilding industry to follow in the form of 10 recommendations for building better communities.

The housebuilding industry must focus on building communities that promote social well-being, not just homes – according to Redrow’s inaugural annual report, Creating Britain’s new communities.

The housebuilder has outlined recommendations for both the industry and government to spearhead when it comes to the creation of thriving communities.

The report also calls on local government to set specific social value goals in relation to housebuilding and for housebuilders to become subject to the Social Value Act 2012. Currently this is only relevant to public sector bodies but Redrow believes it ought to also apply to private entities building new housing developments, to safeguard the economic, social and environmental well-being of the communities they will inhabit.

Rob Macdiarmid, Group Sustainability Director at Redrow, said, “More can be done to help create socially sustainable communities and the effort needs to come from both the government and the industry; together we must get better at setting social value goals and measuring our performance. Housebuilders also need to give more consideration to the lasting legacy of a new housing development and the effect it continues to have over time. Post-occupancy studies are crucial to assessing the impact of a place on its people and the housebuilding industry must unite in its approach to these crucial studies.”

John Tutte, Chief Executive, Redrow, said, “It is an important task that starts with building beautiful homes that people feel proud of, but should be extended further to really help people develop a sense of social connection and attachment to an area.

“The key to this is placemaking: focusing on the supporting infrastructure and amenities that link together a collection of homes in the same geographic location. Forward thinking housebuilders are in an ideal position to take this process to the next level, working with local authorities and gathering evidence on what works from current and past communities.”

Redrow’s recommendations for fostering socially sustainable communities

Give the community choice

  1. Identify and work with people who have a strong sense of citizenship and desire to improve and regenerate their communities. These people can provide leadership and imagination which can galvanise the community to collectively work towards achieving positive social, economic and environmental outcomes.

Set local social value goals and report on progress

  1. Local government should set specific social value objectives and work with homebuilders to establish processes for their achievement. Mechanisms should be established to measure and report on the progress being made towards achieving these objectives.
  2. Homebuilders should collaborate with industry bodies like the HBF to create a social value calculator that can be used to measure and report on the agreed social value goals, performance and outcomes.
  3. We should look to develop an industry wide approach to structuring and undertaking post occupancy evaluation studies. These studies should be more consistently used to better understand the social value outcomes being achieved.

Create attractive, social and healthy places to live

  1. The planning system needs to be reformed to promote transparency, brings sites to market more quickly and to enable much needed communities to prosper and grow.
  2. Pride in place begins with building beautiful homes and creating attractive street scenes.
  3. Interconnect homes with places and spaces where people and families can play, exercise, interact with nature and socialise.

 Welcome and orientate new people to the community

  1. Make people feel welcome by providing guidance and support when they move into their new homes so that they appreciate all that the community has to offer. This could include the use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Nextdoor.com and WhatsApp.
  2. Social interaction is important in the context of feeling attached to a place. We should look to establish a process where community events can be run on a regular basis. These events, supported by local businesses and charity groups, would serve to strengthen community cohesion and wellbeing.

Collaborate to achieve cohesion  

  1. Placekeeping is just as important as Placemaking. Partnerships and collaborative relationships should be developed so communal places and facilities can continue to be enjoyed now and in the future.
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