Building Homes, Creating Communities
It’s not enough to build housing: people want homes, with facilities and a sense of community and place. Sam Veal, Chief Executive of Blueprint looks at the need to build new communities, not just houses.
The mismatch between the need for homes and the number of new homes built each year is well known, however, focusing purely on numbers risks creating homes and places with little or no consideration for those who will live in them or how they wish to live.
At Blueprint, our focus is delivering great places, great for people and great for the planet. We work to create places where communities thrive, where people want to live, work and socialise, building houses is only part of the picture.
We look for sites which are well-situated but under-utilised such as in the case of our Trent Basin development, the first in a number of schemes which is bringing a new lease of life to the Nottingham Waterside area. We believe that by paying close attention to the fabric and identity of the places we create, harnessing the history of the site and working closely with the people in our communities our projects deliver the conditions necessary to support cohesive and sustainable communities.
How we live and the living experience that we all want is also changing. Successful communities are eclectic in their make-up, embracing people at different stages of their life whilst also recognising the ties that bind us – such as a shared interest in the environment, a love of outdoor spaces, multi-generational living or even the opportunity to build your own home with a community of people that share your ambition. Blueprint work to address all of these and more through our developments.
Our developments put the emphasis on people, we give pedestrians priority over the car, think carefully about how streetscapes, landscaping and layouts create pleasant journeys through the neighbourhood. We believe that people want to know and engage with their neighbours and as such do not market our developments to investors choosing to focus on those buyers who intend to live in the home they are purchasing. We also support the formation of residents’ forums providing the seed capital for a Community Fund that residents can invest in their environment and the wider community around them.
It doesn’t end there; people want cleaner energy and housebuilders cannot afford to ignore the growing tide of demand from consumers to take control of the carbon footprint of their homes. Our Trent Basin development is home to a pioneering community energy scheme funded by Innovate UK and developed in partnership with the University of Nottingham, which will see renewable energy generated by solar panels stored in the largest community energy battery in Europe, with benefits returned to the community living at the Basin.
Of course, when it comes to building communities in which people want to live, it’s important to listen to what local people want and incorporate this into the design wherever possible. Our Fruit Market development in Sneinton is a wonderful example of how we’ve taken this engagement one step further with the creation of Nottingham’s first group custom-build community. Here, buyers can work with the architects to individually customise the size, layout and look of their new homes, as well as work together to help design shared elements that will be owned and managed by the custom build group.
Building developments which foster social interaction and encourage the growth of new communities is more important than ever, and the homebuilding industry has a duty to ensure it meets this challenge head on.