It can be a struggle to get on with the neighbours, and when you come into a community as a developer with plans to build a new housing scheme in their village, it can ruffle more than a few feathers.
At HAB, we value local input when it comes to designing our developments. During the planning process, we spend a lot of time meeting with community groups and taking on feedback to help us fit in with the local context and needs of the area we're building in.
For example, in Southmead, Bristol, we’ve ensured that the Elderberry Walk development will match the local price range, and have offered local residents and workers the first chance to buy homes at the scheme before sales go public.
Often, people don’t like the idea of new homes in their area because they see identikit, large volume developments causing a disruption to their everyday lives. By listening to the local point of view, we build homes that not only look similar to their neighbours’, but also respond to the needs of local people.
HAB Housing Co-Founder Mike Roberts explains how building relationships with local communities helps our schemes to thrive.
“As a developer you’re never going to win a popularity contest. Even if you think you’re doing the right thing, people very often don’t want change in their neighbourhoods. It’s not going to help them get appointments at the local doctors, or shorten the waiting list at the local school… But houses aren’t just built for people coming from somewhere else. They’re built for the community.
“We consider the problems faced by people in the area. If that’s older people wanting to downsize but not move away, or young people wanting starter homes so that they can stay in the villages they’re being forced out of, or options for extended family housing, we try to cater to those needs.”
One of the most exciting things for HAB is going into a new area and finding people who are enthusiastic and interested in our values. Sustainability, community, and great design add a lot of worth to an area, so we engage with people to help them make that link. It’s harder to foster relationships with those who begin from a position of hostility.
“There are limits to what you can do. We implement the Considerate Constructors approach, but the reality is that the construction process can be disruptive for people. Trying to control that and minimise those impacts is really important, and having a good starting relationship with the locals really helps.
“At Lovedon Fields near Winchester we produced a large area of park and allotments, and other facilities which are open for the entire community to use. We love to hear stories of people from outside the schemes coming in and benefiting from the communal spaces.”
We believe that place-making should be a matter of public sector, private sector and communities all working together, as we value the communities we live in as much as our homes themselves.
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Photography used by kind permission of Look Again, Paul Miller,
Studio Engleback, Thousand Word Media, Vicky Tilson and Timothy Soar
Unit 11, Temple Studios, Temple Gate, Bristol, BS1 6QA.
Company Registration Number: 05869454 / VAT Registration Number: 925129626
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