Garden Communities – how they can help us build back greener

Our Account Manager, Lucia Maclachlan, attended the Building Garden Communities Conference 2021 yesterday which focused on the role of garden communities in ensuring future proof communities to help us build back better and greener. Her three key takeaways are summarised below.

1. The crisis is changing

Almost a year ago, I explored the challenges faced by housing developers in trying to reach new-build targets, and what role effective communications has to play. In that time, the housing crisis has evolved and adapted to the current environment. So, have we?

In the past twelve months, we’ve spent more time in our houses than ever before and as such, our requirements for the place we call home have drastically changed. In that time, many authorities across the UK have declared a climate emergency and our race to reach net zero has continued.

In addition to reducing the housing gap and providing affordable, good quality homes, place-makers must future-proof their design, construction and delivery of communities to support the behaviour change needed for the UK to reach its net zero target. We’ve outlined in previous blogs how the infrastructure and development sectors can build on public appetite for a Green Recovery.

2. Adopt and adapt

Paris is welcoming with open arms the concept of a 15-minute city, or 20-minute neighbourhood. The idea, essentially, is that everyone should have access to essential services (health provisions, transport links, retail, food, entertainment) within a 15-20 minute walk or bike ride.

Professor Carlos Moreno explained the steps that Paris has taken to enable its policy makers, developers and local communities to work as one to recreate and repurpose existing public spaces to build back better, which started with an education programme to encourage citizen commitment, and ended with a sense of ownership and societal responsibility. Developing green infrastructure, as outlined in our recent blog, is also key to how we can economically recover from the pandemic in a more sustainable and future-proof way.

As a nation, we need to learn lessons and utilise the tangible, demonstrable and relatable benefits from those who are taking clear and decisive action in developing greener and more accessible communities.

3. Collaboration is key

We must demonstrate and be able to evidence the emergency we face; not only the need to build back our nation’s economy, but how to do this in a way that is sustainable, future proof and affordable. And for that, everyone is responsible.

Industry professionals need to work together, and work with the communities in which they operate to identify opportunities, constraints and what it is that’s truly needed from any new development.

It is only then that policymakers will do what is needed, and embed sustainable development and carbon-offsets into planning requirements.

To paraphrase Liz Gibney, historical health pandemics have led to drastically beneficial changes in the way our houses, communities and environments are built. The changes from Covid-19 can provide opportunities to shape our built environment for the better.

To find out more about our work in supporting the development of sustainable communities, please contact