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To help councils build the hundreds of thousands of new homes that are needed, NLGN has published a practical guide, Building Homes, Growing Communities, to help ensure that the houses built lead to high quality communities that prioritise design, safety and quality of life.
At a time when we need to build an unprecedented level of housing, it is vital that councils designate land for high quality places that are an asset to the whole community, not just new residents. By building better places, we have an opportunity to realise a wider set of benefits that can mitigate NIMBYist concerns, and turn a development into a valuable asset.
To do this, local authorities need to take a strong leadership role, setting a clear vision through a clear masterplan and clear design standards. Newly built communities have a rare opportunity to be designed with multiple objectives in mind – health of population, safety and crime reduction – all of which good design supports.
Claire Mansfield, Head of Research at NLGN said:
“As we create the places of the 21st century, its important that new developments drive community resilience and public service outcomes.
“Building new communities gives us an opportunity to design with multiple objectives in mind, to help tackle on-going socio-economic issues and to improve people’s lives.”
The report, sponsored by Essex County Council, looks at four key design principles to create places that will stand the test of time, and that people truly want to live in:
- Creating communities that are a high enough density to support local amenities such as shops and public transport, meaning that people are more likely to socialise, improving social cohesion.
- Designing places that encourage walking and cycling, and ensuring that green space is designated and maintained to encourage exercise
- Designing well-lit, open areas to discourage crime. Places that look lived-in and well cared for are less like to be targeted.
- Designating lots of public space to encourage interaction, reduce isolation and encourage community cohesion.
Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said:
“We are delighted to have worked with NLGN to commission this in-depth report, which can act as a blueprint for housing growth in Essex and beyond. In Greater Essex we must build 180,000 new homes in the next 20 years, therefore it is vital we view any new development as communities, rather than a collection of buildings – we must build the right homes in the right locations.
“Proposals for new Garden Village communities offer a long-term solution to the housing crisis, which is why we are working with local government colleagues in north Essex to look at the delivery of three exciting garden settlements that have the potential to deliver up to 40,000 new homes.
“By building new settlements to garden village principles – green technologies, a focus on green spaces, sustainable transport systems and most importantly an infrastructure first approach, with roads, schools, doctors, broadband – we can look to provide an exemplar for housing development nationwide.”
The urban village approach to development recommends relatively dense, mixed communities clustered around amenities and strong public transport links to central business districts and other urban areas.