Modern life can be tough; fast paced, heavy traffic, long days, technology overload. Our homes provide much needed sanctuary in this maelstrom. At Redrow we build high quality homes with distinctive characteristics, to provide this sanctuary, but these homes do not sit in isolation of their surroundings, rather they piece together to form a community, a place. But how important is place and community to people? Earlier this year we asked 2,000 potential home buyers whether being part of a community is important to them and 87% agreed that it is. Far from being dead, community spirit is alive and well in the UK. The Top 10 features people want to see in their community are:
- Doctor’s surgery
- Highspeed broadband
- Recreation ground
- Local shops
- Bus routes
- Park or village green
- Post office
- Coffee shop / tea room
- Health visitor / district nurse
The focus of these 10 is on connectivity and health and well-being. Notably, none of these features can be a last minute thought or an add-on and all require careful planning. This could mean (for example) housebuilders working closely with local authorities to deliver the vital infrastructure that is required to make the area a success; ensuring village greens are carefully planned as a focal point of a new development or collaborating with a leading broadband supplier to ensure maximum connectivity. The myriad of considerations means it is essential that community-minded housebuilders have a structure or framework for delivering attractive and sustainable places as part of their housebuilding plans.
As a response to this we have developed seven principles that inform how we build: ‘listen to learn; build to impress; dovetail to fit; places to go and things to do; easy to get around; nature for people; and streets for life’. These principles place well-being; asking people what they want, at the heart of the development process.
Woodford Garden Village in Cheshire puts these guidelines into practice. The new community will comprise 900 homes alongside 50 acres of public open spaces, including sports pitches and pocket parks, a doctor’s surgery, a range of local shops, a primary school and a village pub.
By continuing to listen to what people want and thinking holistically, not just about homes, but how to nurture cohesive communities, housebuilders can create better places to live.