Our shared experience of living through the coronavirus pandemic will fundamentally shape how communities are designed in the future. Public wellbeing and social value are set to jump to the top of the agenda as they play a key role in the ‘green recovery’.
But how fundamental will the changes be? Social value was becoming increasingly important before the pandemic hit, but we expect there will now be greater focus and intent on ensuring places emerge from the crisis with public health at their core.
The property sector will need to respond to this with integrity and purpose. To be able to do so, diversity needs to be at the heart of how we deliver developments. We need different minds, backgrounds and experiences in our own businesses to ensure we properly understand the needs of the communities in which we work and how best to ensure social wellbeing is embedded in schemes.
Our communities are some of the most diverse of any nation. More than 40% of London’s residents come from ethnic minorities; a 10th of Brighton’s population identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual; in Birmingham, one in five residents is Muslim; a fifth of the nation is disabled. Meanwhile in 2017, there were nearly 600,000 people aged 90 or over in the UK. The experiences that different communities have had of
Covid-19 will undoubtedly be reflected in future developments.
Emerging from the coronavirus pandemic, meaningful engagement with these communities must be achieved to ensure that we are creating places where people want to spend their time. Mirroring this, we also need to ensure that our own businesses truly represent the broader make-up of British society.
As we head into economic recovery from the current crisis, creating spaces that support society will be crucial. But before we can truly do this, improving diversity in the property sector will be key.
If we don’t, we risk supporting the imbalances that exist between different groups rather than helping deliver true and fair economic recovery.
Angela Reeve is head of planning Midlands at Turley