South West homeowners most neighbourly according to national study

90% of people living in the South West are on first name terms with their neighbours according to a new Creating Britain’s new communities” research report from Redrow Homes.

But 80% of those questioned in the region, don’t think the Government is doing enough to prioritise creating communities to accelerate housebuilding.

The “Creating Britain’s new communities” report comes out shortly after the Government’s Housing White Paper which highlighted the importance of digital infrastructure and its commitment to achieving full fibre connectivity.

inSwindon Artisan Market inSwindon Artisan Market

National findings from the Redrow report also included that, second only to doctor’s surgeries, 98% of people say high-speed broadband is the most important factor for social well-being in their community.

Other study conclusions included:

  • Community spirit is alive and well with 87% of people wanting to be part of a community
  • However 25% of people say they are NOT currently living in a community
  • High-speed broadband is more important than traditional community amenities such as a post office, a village green, and local shops such as a butchers or a fishmongers.

The survey of 2,000 consumers also revealed the top 10 most important factors for creating communities which promote social well-being. A local GP surgery came out at number one – the full ‘top 10’ can be seen in the table below (with urban vs. rural split).

Rank Community Feature Indicated as being important for creating a community
    National City/Town Hamlet/Village
1 Doctor’s surgery 99.5% 99.4% 99.9%
2 High-speed broadband 98.1% 97.9% 98.3%
3 Open space/recreation ground 97.6% 97.7% 97.4%
4

 

Local shops (butcher, fishmonger etc.) 97.2% 97.7% 96.2%
5 Bus route 95.7% 96.6% 93.9%
6 Hospital 95.1% 95.3% 94.7%
7 Park/Village Green 94.7% 94.8% 94.6%
8 Post office 94.2% 94.4% 93.8%
9 Coffee shop/tea room 91.3% 92.6% 88.7%
10 Health visitor/district nurse 90.3% 90.5% 89.9%

Table 1: percentage of people indicating that a community feature is important (top 10) – source Redrow

Living in a community continues to be very important to the UK population, with 87% of people wanting to be part of a community, but 25% currently do not feel they live in one.

Hannah Pollard, sales director, Redrow South West, said: “In the South West our research shows that people strongly aspire to be part of a community and many do know the names of their neighbours.

“But the national picture is different with people feeling detached and in the region too, many believe that the Government can, and should, be doing more to reconcile communities.

“In building developments to meet the housing needs of the South West we understand the importance of community and social well-being considering key factors such as proximity to doctors, open space or local shops and groups at all our developments.”

Embedding social value in the house building process

Redrow’s report highlights ways in which the housebuilding industry can further contribute to building communities that promote social well-being. These include:

  • an industry-wide approach to structuring and undertaking post-occupancy evaluation studies (to assess how a place affects its people)
  • creation of an industry-wide social value calculator (to make it easier to assess well-being)
  • a greater emphasis on welcoming people into a new community through social media platforms like Facebook, Streetlife.com and WhatsApp.

Redrow is compiling a series of placemaking principles in order to distil the essence of a community and provide guidelines across its business to help create successful communities.

Rob Macdiarmid, group sustainability director, Redrow, said:“When we create new communities some of the top features we are currently integrating include good access to key local amenities, the ability to walk to schools, shops and social meeting places, such as pubs. “Twenty years ago housebuilders tended to think about green areas last, but now these are the very first and central consideration on an upcoming development.

“As an industry we are also now thinking about how to encourage community integration. New people need to feel welcome for a community to continue to grow, so we are helping residents at new housing developments in small ways, such as setting up WhatsApp groups for social gatherings, jogging or trips to the park, and welcome packs which inform people about the facilities available to them in the locality.

“By being made to feel welcome and facilitating social interaction people can start the process of social attachment.”