Creating great places where people enjoy a good quality of life, now and in the future
"We will create high quality, sustainable places where people choose to live, work and spend their time. These will be places that directly encourage people's well-being and quality of life and offer them a space and a base from which to lead safe and fulfilling lives. Our ability to transform sites into thriving communities will be considered the best in our industry. Through our ability both to collaborate and to deliver, Berkeley will be the developer of choice for local authorities and existing communities."
Delivering well-designed, safe and sustainable places which will endure as settled, vibrant communities long into the future is vital to social and economic sustainability. At Berkeley, we believe that it is this long-term vision, to appreciate the needs of our customers and wider stakeholders before, during and after the delivery of our schemes, that is the right model for a truly successful and sustainable business in our sector. Our approach is based on placemaking - not just house building - and understanding what makes a place thrive and function as a community, now and in the future.
Over the past two years, in partnership with Social Life, we have developed a framework which we are now using to measure the social sustainability of our developments. The results will help us to improve the quality of the places we build and to ensure that they promote quality of life and wellbeing.
In 2013 we trialled the metrics on five developments at various stages from pre-planning to post occupancy. We firmly believe that embedding a strong social infrastructure will help contribute towards delivering the best possible places where a community can thrive. During 2014 we plan to roll out the assessment process more widely to ensure our headline successes to date, that Berkeley residents feel they belong, regularly talk to neighbours and plan to stay in their community will be consistently delivered as a minimum.
In 2014 we will also be conducting post occupancy evaluation of several aspects of our developments to confirm how they function in relation to aspects such as crime and security, design quality, travel plans and community spaces, to inform our future developments.
From the outset we need to work with local communities and authorities in the areas in which we are building to ensure our design and implementation meets their needs.
We have a culture in our business of talking directly to residents and delivering what we promise. Our Community Engagement Strategy is used on all developments. We collaborate with the planning authority and other local stakeholders to tackle the shortage of good quality homes and provide an appropriate mix of types and tenures. Over the last five years, we have signed over 7,000 commitments to provide affordable homes including social rent, shared equity, shared ownership and extra care homes for the elderly. We also work in partnership with educational establishments to provide high quality student accommodation. We have funded a broad range of facilities and services. Over the past five years, we have contributed an average of £49m per year through S106 contributions, as outlined in the Economic Impact Assessment of The Berkeley Group completed by Ernst & Young in 2013.
In addition to each individual home being designed to be environmentally sound, it is essential that the wider development also adheres to these principles and allows people to live a sustainable lifestyle.
Our approach begins with the selection of land opportunities, with a focus on developing on redundant or under-utilised land; 89% of our development this year was on brownfield rather than greenfield land. The selection of central sites also means we continue to build in well-connected locations; 93% of live sites are within 500m of a public transport node (2012: 97%) and 94% will provide cycle storage (2012: 95%).
Our commitments apply to every development we build, regardless of location or scale. On every site, potential flood risks are mitigated against and ecologists are consulted to protect and enhance biodiversity. We are now also incorporating living roofs on all suitable apartment roof spaces. Our commercial space, student accommodation and extra care housing all achieve BREEAM Very Good.
Our new challenge is to ensure that every place we create is also designed to provide high levels of comfort and can cope with more extreme weather conditions. In 2014 we will undertake research into climate change adaptation and how measures can be effectively and seamlessly incorporated into our developments.