Faced with years of inappropriate development and lack of investment in local infrastructure many communities are looking to take the initiative for their own futures.
If you have read as many Housing Needs Surveys as we have, you might have noticed the same trend. Time and again communities highlight two particular housing issues:
- The need for affordable housing
- The need for open market downsizing properties for ‘last time’ buyers.
The common theme through most of these surveys is that a shortage of affordable and appropriate housing is making it increasingly difficult for local people to be able to stay in their communities, with younger people leaving rural communities for the big city lights a particular trend. This is exasperating the effects of an ageing population in some areas, with West Somerset reportedly having a median age of 51! (Source: 2011 National Census).
Neighbourhood Plans have also regularly highlighted the need for better community assets and infrastructure, from open spaces to small business units to provide work opportunities for local people.
During the 1970s redevelopment of the London Docklands, commercial developers proposed a development of offices in the Coin Street area of the South Bank. Like many such riverside developments it would have cut the surrounding community off from the river around which the community was built. Worse still all the added value of the development would have left the community and gone to absent developers and investors.
A community campaign was launched proposing its own scheme for the 13 acre site. Their vision was for a mixed use development of housing, workspace, open spaces and community facilities. Now 40 years later the community is still thriving and provides a model and hope for other communities. Read more.
All of which highlights that community developments are about more than just houses they are about people and their needs and aspirations. Initiative Homes does not just design houses – we work with communities and partners to design projects with lasting long term community and household benefits at their heart.
In short we want to work with communities and support them in taking the initiative for their own futures.
This requires thinking through wider opportunities such as exploring how a development might contribute to community projects that will in turn create long term benefits. With the right partners, the right ideas and plans a community can get its housing needs met and have the opportunity to invest in a wide of assets that will help it thrive into the future.