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What makes great places?

– 3 min read

We have partnered with global engineering and design consultancy Arup to launch a pioneering new design guide. The manifesto, entitled What makes great places for people? has brought together our collective expertise to propose the universal qualities and principles of great places.

The recommendations are based on research into the UK’s changing demographics; the population is projected to increase to 73 million by 2041, while people in the 65+ age bracket will rise from 18% to 26% of the total population – meaning that the creation of new homes must be sustainably accelerated and considerations need to be made for older living communities. The guide also analysed societal trends including the pandemic-induced work from home trend, with 76% more people now working from home than a decade ago.

Developers should put people first

Based on these findings, together with Arup, we have created six key principles which address how developers should put people first, how new developments should be built, how existing places should be managed, and how new neighbourhoods connect to our surroundings. Key themes explored within the guide include an assessment of people, place and planet, as well as an analysis of the changing context in which developments take place – including the factors that are driving demographic, social and environmental change. It also assesses the impact of COVID-19.

Group Chief Executive David Cowans explained: “Our vision is to create thriving, sustainable communities that are good for people, and for the planet, and this design guide gives us a framework which enables us to do this.”

Long-lasting communities

Our track record already includes more than 71,000 social and affordable rented homes currently managed by the business; in the past year the company built 1,226 affordable homes. We also generated £286.1m in social value in the year ending 2020. David continued: “We have already proven how long-lasting communities can be created, with Places for People neighbourhoods up and down the country offering affordable and attainable homes for people from all backgrounds – places in which residents can lead fulfilling lives.

Mixed-use, mixed-tenure

“Our experience shows that mixed-use and mixed-tenure places lay the foundation for social cohesion, economic prosperity, and environmental sustainability. We want to ensure that places are genuinely inclusive and have a range of facilities for the benefit of local communities to help them thrive in their work, life and leisure pursuits.”

High quality of life

Reflecting on the partnership, Arup Director Sowmya Parthasarathy – an architect and urban designer with over 25 years of global experience, who was recently named as a Woman of Influence 2021 and led on the project, said: “The way that we live is changing and it is imperative that all developers advocate for and deliver spaces that accommodate everyone. This is essential to promote a high quality of life, and a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for people from all backgrounds.

“With this, and the National Design Guide in mind, we have collated our research and findings to propose what we believe are the essential qualities and principles of great places. These principles aim to be universal, inclusive, and relevant to all people, irrespective of their age, gender, background, family structure, or socio-economic status.

Exemplary neighbourhoods

“I am immensely proud to have been involved with this body of work and look forward to the principles being applied to exemplary and sustainable neighbourhoods in the future.”

Underpinned by broader industry findings, the Guide has also been cross referenced against recently published Government papers including Building Better Building Beautiful, MHCLG’s National Design Guide, and the National Model Design Code.

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