Britain is in desperate need of new homes to meet an ever-growing demand, but the solution isn't as simple as mass production. Berkeley Group are focusing their efforts on creating places that revolve around the people who live there, and that offer a strong sense of identity and community.
With many new housing developments constructed with only road access in mind and public transport as a secondary consideration, or even not considered at all, Berkeley Group is looking to change the outlook on construction. Integrated transport systems that support pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport links - as well as cars - are key considerations for all developments. The focus is on facilitating transport to where residents actually want to go, rather than making planning decisions based on incomplete assumptions.
It's also about providing the facilities and services residents need in their local area, such as shops and cafes to schools and healthcare centres, so frequent travel to distant amenities isn't required. It takes a more holistic approach to provide residents with an environment that promotes a better quality of life.
Local transport and facilities form the foundation of a development, but more is needed before a new community can be created. Research has shown that people highly value green spaces near their homes in cities, though these naturally are at a premium in built-up areas. Housing and business developments have been catching up to this demand, making vegetation and grassy areas an essential part of any healthy urban environment.
The opportunity for landscaping on such a scale is obviously limited in crowded cities, so innovative thinking is required to create green spaces in unconventional places. There's the planned 'High Line' between Camden and King's Cross in London, for example, modelled on the raised rail line gardens of New York, creating a public garden and walkways in a formerly unusable space.
However, this focus on green space also continues away from the urban developments as the Green Park Village in Reading shows. The site features a lake covering 17 percent of the 60-acre site, which also includes nature trails and wildflower meadows, and continues the Berkeley theme that a place is made up of so many different things: past, present, culture and, above all, the people who live there.
In a world where socialising is becoming increasingly digitised, it is important to consider new ways to establish a more immediate and traditional sense of community in developments. This is more than just creating a physical space that fosters community; it's about creating a culture through events and groups, such as gardening clubs to maintain green spaces, farmers markets to connect residents to local suppliers, and festivals to promote local bands, food trucks, retailers, and more.
Creating much-needed new homes can easily result in vast swathes of poorly thought-out housing. Social, economic, and environmental factors are considered thoroughly by Berkeley Group and addressed before embarking on a new housing development. Developers have a responsibility to help build strong communities, promote a high quality of life, support the local economy, and minimise the environmental impact of operations and housing design, creating sustainable homes that are built to last.
Find out more about our approach and commitment to developing sustainable places here.