Press Release: New report reveals how home and neighbourhood design influences community recovery from Covid – and what city makers can do about it.
Future of London has published a new report today providing a practical framework for city makers. It prioritises interaction, accessibility and social connection in the design and management of homes and neighbourhoods – critical to community recovery from Covid-19.
Covid-19 has brought the importance of community into sharper focus but has also stretched public services to breaking point. City makers could focus on the fundamentals of building homes and infrastructure and treat community investment as ‘a nice to have.’ However, evidence suggests that stronger, more engaged communities can help city makers deliver locally responsive places. Plus, more inclusive neighbourhoods encourage interaction and can reduce the gap in life satisfaction between the most deprived and most affluent communities. Therefore, community involvement will deliver better places.
“Millions of Londoners have benefitted from the groundswell of community networks that have blossomed during lockdown. This inspiring report celebrates the work of dedicated staff and volunteers working across the capital. The insight and guidance illustrate how we can literally build social connection into new developments and help sustain this vital support for the long term.” – Nicola Mathers, Chief Executive, Future of London
The report is aimed at policymakers and frontline delivery teams in regional and local authorities, housing associations, developers and designers, building and managing our towns and cities. It includes a practical framework based on three ’building blocks’ that support community cohesion:
- Physical design: design which connects homes to the neighbourhood maximises opportunities for regular contact and safe, visible pedestrian routes. Initiatives such as child-friendly streets that get people out of cars and foster doorstep play and community interaction.
- Neighbourhood ecosystems: diverse networks of shops and services that reflect the needs and identity of the community, close to home, increase footfall and opportunities to build meaningful social bonds.
- Digital connectivity: localised, place-based online groups connect residents with services, encourage civic participation, and keep people connected. Access to Wi-Fi, hardware and training ensures connection and increases inclusion.
Working with project partners Arup, Countryside Properties and Pollard Thomas Edwards, Future of London’s People, Place and Community report draws on five compelling case studies from London and the South East, a podcast, webinar and interviews with practitioners and urban residents.
“Covid-19 has exacerbated the loneliness epidemic in our capital. It has also shined a light on how the built environment can support vital community networks and combat social isolation in London. The People, Place and Community report plays a valuable role in improving our understanding of the issue by setting out a practical framework for city planners to deliver social value through investing in and designing infrastructure to improve social connections and inhabitants’ health and wellbeing.” – Adriana Moreno Pelayo, City Economist, Arup
“Creating design-led and sustainable communities has been at the forefront of the work we have been doing with our partners for over three decades and this report is further confirmation that both economic growth and social cohesion go hand in hand when it comes to the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. This framework offers practical solutions to ensure we create places people love for generations to come.” – Mike Woolliscroft, Chief Executive – Partnerships South, Countryside
“Local living, neighbourhood networks and co-creation have been mainstreamed by the pandemic. Architecture must help these ideas flourish. That means designing buildings and places that are flexible rather than prescriptive, brimming with potential and proudly non-exclusive.” – Pollard Thomas Edwards
More information on the People, Place and Community project.