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Journal 17 September 2019

The Value of Community: A New Report

For decades, The Prince’s Foundation has campaigned for mixed-use, environmentally sound, walkable, mixed-use housing developments, which encourage communities and local businesses to thrive

At a special event held at Blenheim Palace, The Prince’s Foundation with the University College of Estate Management (UCEM) published the findings of The Value of Community, a joint report which reveals a direct link between housing type and social benefits – so-called ‘social capital’.

Image of a house

The report adds to a growing body of evidence worldwide that suggests the homes in which we live, have a profound impact on people’s health and wellbeing. Ashley Wheaton, principal at University College of Estate Management, said: "This report provides a fascinating insight into how walkability, accessibility, local identity and a strong sense of community spirit can make a new housing development thrive, and the positive impact of this on its land and property values.

The findings provide clear evidence for why local authorities, policy makers, landowners, investors and developers should favour well thought out communities of which future generations will be proud.”

Image of man buying pastry from a woman in a market stall

The team at UCEM interviewed 850 residents at Poundbury and Fairford Leys to give a fascinating snap-shot into living, working and growing up in this particular type of housing development. Savills also produced a financial study to go alongside the report that reveals the long-term economic benefits of taking a sustainable approach to house building.

By moving away from the monocultural housing estate in favour of small towns that feel more like mini-villages, the report highlights the very real benefits to landowners and developers. The findings prove once again that community is what matters most when it comes to planning any housing development, whatever the scale, and provides yet more concrete evidence that this approach results in social and financial gains long-term. Ben Bolgar, senior director at The Prince’s Foundation, told the audience: “It is inspiring to see Poundbury and Fairford Leys bearing fruit financially and socially. Poundbury now ploughs £100 million into the local economy every year, which of course adds to a sense of pride and identity for those in the community.

Image of a couple walking a dog

If more landowners, planners and developers could take this approach, we might find the wider market takes our lead and the face of UK housing is changed for the better. At a time when the UK Government has committed to 300,000 new homes per year, it feels like the perfect moment to grasp this opportunity. We need and deserve better standards of housing across the UK that promote long-term gains over short-term profits and build self-sustaining communities that will flourish for generations to come.”

The Prince’s Foundation is a leading authority in the design and building world. The basis for today’s report came from our Valuing Sustainable Urbanism report published in 2007, which demonstrated the financial sense of building mixed-use developments. More recently The Prince’s Foundation published Housing Britain: A Call To Action, which is The Prince’s Foundation’s blueprint for achieving mixed-use, walkable developments.

View the report here.

Words: Corinna Cunningham

Imagery: Jamie Murray

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