Influencing housing developments
Over the next twenty years Gloucestershire will see significant development of new housing: projections suggest around 50,000 new homes are required to meet demand.
Creating successful communities requires more than just building houses and hard infrastructure. Time and thought also needs to be given to the challenges of building communities.
Strong social networks make a real difference to whether a community flourishes or not; and a flourishing community in turn makes a huge difference to the wellbeing of individuals. The things that bind people together within communities (sometimes described as ‘social capital’) provide a source of resilience that is critical to both physical and mental wellbeing. This was a key finding in the Marmot Review of public health; and our own research in Gloucestershire confirmed that among the main drivers of personal wellbeing was ‘social contact and interaction’.
We work across the planning, development, housing, and care sectors to encourage people to think differently about how new neighbourhoods are created, so that those who move in develop a sense of belonging. We deliver workshops and resources for people involved with new developments to understand how to enable socially sustainable communities to develop. Consideration needs to be given to a number of critical factors including:
- spaces for people to meet from the earliest stages and a design that promotes informal networks
- social and cultural life and community identity
- voice and influence for the community to shape its own structures and priorities
- space and opportunity for community initiatives to grow
- investment in welcoming people to the neighbourhood and empowering them to use their skills
- making connections between individual, groups and local organisations