If we have learned anything from the pandemic, it is that our health and wellbeing have never been more important.
As people spend more time in their homes and neighbourhoods, what responsibility do housebuilders have in ensuring future generations live, work and play in healthy communities?
Housebuilders shape people’s livelihoods through the design of their communities and homes. This is why design- and landscape-led housebuilding is vital. The industry is starting to recognise this. Homes England recently backed design guidance Building for a Healthy Life, which encourages healthier lifestyles to be planned into new housing.
The design toolkit covers the priorities for creating more healthy communities, including improved walking, cycling and public transport links, reduced carbon emissions and better air quality, with masterplans based on local health and care needs to ensure neighbourhoods are based on mixed-tenure housing and well-defined public spaces.
Creating intelligently designed, safe neighbourhoods reflecting an area’s characteristics not only makes it more appealing, but promotes social cohesion and a sense of belonging. At our Acton Gardens scheme in west London, we are evolving residents’ perceptions of a once no-go estate and enhancing the communal experience by creating green corridors, well-lit roads and open urban parks.
But is that enough? The Good Homes Alliance estimates residents spend 90% of their time at home, so how do we ensure conditions inside do not cause negative effects to health?
A design-led approach ensures there are no poor-quality homes and addresses concerns about sufficient natural light and indoor air quality.
Countryside’s design-led homebuilding approach delivers high-quality homes that keep in mind residents’ health and wellbeing. Our flagship Rochester Riverside regeneration scheme in Kent (pictured) recently won the Building for a Better Life award at the government’s Housing Design Awards, in recognition of its revival of waterside living and a design that puts residents’ health and wellbeing at the heart of the scheme.
Creating homes fit for future generations means we must constantly review, futureproof and learn from experience. And collaborators must implement strategic stewardship programmes with strong local governance that work for the community and are treasured by generations to come.
Our homes have an integral role to play in our children’s future, so let’s invest time and expertise, learn from our experiences and ensure that the housebuilding industry does not become the weakest link in our quest.
Phillip Lyons is interim chief executive, partnerships North, Countryside
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