On every development, we put people first. We try to create successful places that work for everyone, and communities where people are happy, connected and self-reliant.
In February 2014, we published a toolkit to help developers and planners apply the idea of social sustainability in practice.
It offers a structured approach to placemaking and a way to test the social impact of the places you create. It tries to encourage a shift in mindset away from thinking mostly about physical development to thinking more broadly and creatively about what makes a place somewhere great to live.
The framework has now been tested on many different developments in a range of settings. It has also been applied at different stages of the development process; pre-planning, during the development process and afterwards to assess the quality of what has been delivered.
Berkeley has published six reports examining specific sites, measuring people's quality of life and comparing it to other similar places. This helps us understand what has worked, and what could be done better. The insights can inform our subsequent work, as well as the national policy agenda of delivering successful, sustainable places.
At Kidbrooke Village, our intention is to develop the community to a point where local people can manage many aspects of the neighbourhood themselves in perpetuity. To achieve this, our team has developed a Community Action Plan.
This involves having a clear strategy to communicate with residents; employing a dedicated community officer; an events committee; a dedicated community resource centre; and plans to set up a Development Trust.
In 2014, we applied our social sustainability framework to the regeneration of Woodberry Down to help us understand how both the existing and new residents feel about living here.
The findings suggested that 90% of residents were satisfied with their life overall compared to the UK average of 60% and 77% in comparable areas. The report also highlighted areas for improvement, including encouraging stronger links between neighbours.
One of the initiatives launched to address this was an outside cinema with summer screenings. This has been a huge success, showing a huge mix of films and the Wimbledon finals. Families and friends gather outside to watch the shows, enjoy the open space, and mix and meet together.
Events like this help to build a sense of community and place, for local residents of every age, in private and affordable homes, and establish easy links with the surrounding communities.
In early 2016, LSE London undertook research at Saffron Square to understand residents' experiences of living within the development. The research, based on our social sustainability framework, found that 86% of respondents feel 'reasonably happy', compared to 68% of people in similar areas.
With most respondents being young professionals living in private rented accommodation, observations are made about how to build a community with people living in the private rented sector.
Recommendations include: encouraging neighbours to meet and socialise through events programmes and supporting communication via social media; giving thought to the length of tenancy agreements, to ease concerns about security of tenure and the threat of rising rents; and, given the squeeze on local government and housing associations, encouraging private developers to take the lead in community development.