UK consumers: “We need communities, not just homes”

Two thirds of UK residents feel that too much focus is being placed solely on the construction of new homes, as opposed to rounded communities with supporting infrastructure, a new report has found.

The Future Communities Report has been published by Eurocell plc, the UK’s leading manufacturer, distributor and recycler of PVC-U window, door, conservatory and roofline systems. It draws on the findings of a survey of 1,000 UK adults with an equal split between homeowners, private renters and social housing occupants.

Almost seven in 10 (69%) of respondents said that they felt not enough consideration is given to the provision of educational, health and sport facilities during the current planning process for homes.

A further 32% of people believe that not enough has been done to support the development of doctors, dentists and hospitals, with a further 31% saying that not enough had been done to support the development of schools and nurseries. Respondents also said that not more should be done to provide parks (28%), leisure facilities such as sports and craft centres (26%) and amenities such as cafes (21%).

As a result of this, 55% of respondents said that they felt that quickly building a high volume of homes negatively impacts community spirit. In addition, 44% identified a failure to extend existing services (for example, doctors’ surgeries and schools) to allow for an increase in the number of residents as having the biggest impact on the integrations of new and old communities.

When asked to identify the top factors in ensuring that enough supporting infrastructure is developed in the communities of the future, 37% highlighted providing more opportunities for local residents to input on planning decisions while 36% said there was a greater need for collaboration between planners and service providers. Other factors highlighted included more focus on the design and build of multi-use buildings (31%), more powers over services being passed to local government for better local oversight (27%), and more strategic leadership at a national level (22%.)

The report also includes expert input from architects at leading studios BDP, Stanton Williams, Urbanist Architecture and TOWN. It reveals insight into the communities that people hope to live in and current trends in the built environment sector.

Fanis Anastasiadis, Architect Director at Urbanist Architecture, highlighted:

You now have a planning section before you even do the visual developments. This should involve the community from the start to identify needs and allocate them throughout the available map and make sure that the community has a clear view and goal for where they want to go and how people want to live in the future.”

Chris Coxon, Head of Marketing at Eurocell, commented:

“In our 2018 Future Homes report, a reoccurring point made by those involved was that it isn’t simply about providing accommodation, but also developing buildings that provide a strong supporting infrastructure. As such, we wanted to gain insight into the communities that people want to live in and to provide the construction industry with a resource that will help them shape built environments that people desire.”

“The housing crisis shows no sign of abating, so it’s vital that we have these conversations now. As a sector, we must reflect and act upon the issues facing future communities by listening to the views of the UK public – those who will be living in them.”

The Future Community Report can be downloaded in full here.