The mantra ‘location, location, location’ has defined the property market for decades as the vital factor for buying, renting or building.
Our relationship with a place is often determined by connectivity, amenities, schools and wider development.
However, homebuyers have reacted quickly to the lockdown and recent data shows priorities have changed. City centres have been ditched for suburbs and rural locations in the search for outdoor space; and families want to be closer to schools and family-friendly amenities.
As the relationship with our homes and their location evolves in the aftermath of Covid-19, how do we, as pioneers of master planning, ensure we maximise the potential of a location?
This summer, the government’s geospatial strategy promised to harness the power of location data to revitalise infrastructure, level up communities and build more homes. With a renewed focus on the growing power of ‘where’, the Geospatial Commission states that by 2025, the UK will have a coherent national location data framework providing a seamless connection between things, systems, people and the environment. This insight-led approach is not only vital in determining a location’s economic potential but its social value, too.
This is at the heart of creating truly sustainable communities. By prioritising the needs of the community and combining this with the location data, we can gain greater and more accurate insight, giving us the information to make well-informed decisions on design, landscaping, infrastructure and the amenities to make communities an economic and social success.
It also allows us to add additional detail to the strategic plan of an area extending across functional economic areas, gaining detail over time.
But we should not forget the collaborative nature of master planning – a key part of our mixed-tenure business model. Working closely with landowners, local authorities, housing associations, and, crucially, local communities ensures that we can procure and deliver the infrastructure to ensure a consistent supply of high-quality serviced land to housebuilding businesses and third parties.
This sensitive approach has resulted in the successful delivery of many new communities, including Beaulieu in Chelmsford, Kingsmere in Bicester and Great Kneighton in Cambridge. Rochester Riverside in Kent is also notable, its design principles having been recognised by the government’s Housing Design Awards for rejuvenating a previously overlooked area and capitalising on the location’s potential, delivering a new, thriving community with new homes and much-needed commercial space.
There is no single, one-size-fits-all approach to large-scale, residential-led development and we must embrace the fact that the way in which we interact with a place is changing. We have the opportunity to leverage location data and lessons from previous projects to create innovative and future-proof communities that serve the needs of generations to come. The challenge to meet demand for new homes lies ahead of us, and it’s our responsibility to create a blueprint for the future.
Andrew Taylor is group planning director at Countryside