Creating Britain’s New Communities

2nd March 2017

Second only to doctor’s surgeries – 98% of people say high-speed broadband is most important factor for social well-being in their community

- Community spirit is alive and well – 87% of people want to be part of a community

- However 25% of people are currently NOT living in a community and 9% of people do not know their next door neighbours’ name

- 81% of people do not think the government is doing enough to prioritise creating communities as part of its housebuilding plans

- Most important factor for community is a GP surgery, followed by high-speed broadband

Nearly 100% of people surveyed by housebuilder Redrow say that high-speed broadband is important for creating a strong community. This is more important than traditional community amenities such as a post office, a village green, and local shops such as a butchers or a fishmongers.

The findings are outlined in Redrow’s latest research report, which comes shortly after the Government’s Housing White Paper highlighting the importance of digital infrastructure and its commitment to achieving full fibre connectivity.

The survey of 2,000 consumers also revealed the top 10 most important factors for creating communities which promote social well-being. A local GP surgery came out at number one – the full ‘top 10’ can be seen in the table below (with urban vs. rural split).

Rank

Community Feature

Indicated as being important for creating a community

 

 

National

City/Town

Hamlet/Village

1

Doctor’s surgery

99.5%

99.4%

99.9%

2

High-speed broadband

98.1%

97.9%

98.3%

3

Open space/recreation ground

97.6%

97.7%

97.4%

4

 

Local shops (butcher, fishmonger etc.)

97.2%

97.7%

96.2%

5

Bus route

95.7%

96.6%

93.9%

6

Hospital

95.1%

95.3%

94.7%

7

Park/Village Green

94.7%

94.8%

94.6%

8

Post office

94.2%

94.4%

93.8%

9

Coffee shop/tea room

91.3%

92.6%

88.7%

10

Health visitor/district nurse

90.3%

90.5%

89.9%

Table 1: percentage of people indicating that a community feature is important (top 10) – source Redrow

Living in a community continues to be very important to the UK population, with 87% of people wanting to be part of a community, but 25% currently do not feel they live in one. Nearly one in 10 (9%) cannot name their next door neighbour.

A significant majority (81%) of people said the government is not doing enough to prioritise creating communities as part of its housebuilding plans.

Rob Macdiarmid, Group Sustainability Director at Redrow, comments on the report:

“Our research shows that people strongly aspire to be part of a community. The reality however is that a good number of people feel a sense of detachment from their neighbours and others in their local area. They also believe that the Government can, and should, be doing more to reconcile communities.

“The Housing White Paper published by the Government in February emphasises the importance of supporting infrastructure to creating communities, but this sentiment can and should go further. Vibrant communities are beneficial to UK PLC as a whole and housebuilders must be gearing their strategies toward helping to create communities; a duty to do this borne out in legislation ought to be considered. The time is right for the housebuilding industry and national and local governments to come together and set out coherent principles for creating better places for people to live. The organisations that build our homes, including all housebuilders, should follow this blueprint.”

Embedding social value in the house building process

Redrow’s report highlights ways in which the housebuilding industry can contribute to building communities that promote social well-being. These include an industry-wide approach to structuring and undertaking post-occupancy evaluation studies (to assess how a place affects its people); creation of an industry-wide social value calculator (to make it easier to assess well-being) and a greater emphasis on welcoming and orientating people into a new community through social media platforms like Facebook, Streetlife.com and WhatsApp.

Redrow is also currently compiling a series of placemaking principles in order to further embed the placemaking ethos internally.  These will distil the essence of a Redrow community and provide guidelines internally across the entire business for helping to create successful communities.

Rob Macdiarmid explains the current thinking at Redrow: “When we create new communities some of the top features we are currently integrating include good access to key local amenities, the ability to walk to schools, shops and social meeting places, such as pubs. Twenty years ago housebuilders tended to think about green areas last, but now these are the very first and central consideration on an upcoming development. As an industry we are also now thinking about how to encourage community integration. New people need to feel welcome for a community to continue to grow, so we are helping residents at new housing developments in small ways, such as setting up WhatsApp groups for social gatherings, like jogging or trips to the park, and welcome packs which inform people about the facilities available to them in the locality. By being made to feel welcome and facilitating social interaction people can start the process of social attachment.”

Creating Britain's New Communities Report