Fostering a community – why property is more than just bricks and mortar

15/11/2017

Sofie Ford, Property Team

Fostering a community – why property is more than just bricks and mortar

Our buildings are the stages upon which our lives are set. To the untrained eye, a building is just bricks and mortar, door frames and stairways, keystones and carpets. But look through the windows and it’s the people within who bring them to life. Successful property schemes – whether housing, offices or retail – look beyond a safe and quality design; from conception to completion, the people who will use a building must be front of mind.

Community at the heart of your home

The most desirable new housing developments have a focus on the social value they create through investing in and engaging with their community. When buying a home, people are investing in more than just a house or apartment, they are investing in a lifestyle. Product and place must come together in order to create an appealing neighbourhood where people want to live.

At The Stage in Shoreditch – a mixed-use development situated at the site of the Elizabethan Curtain Theatre, where Shakespeare is known to have performed – the investors and developers began engaging with the community before even breaking ground, in order to make the scheme an integral part of the local area from day one. History and heritage have played an important role in engaging with locals and adding value to the development.

Through a programme of activities aimed at sharing the fascinating discoveries made during the excavation of the theatre, promoting Shoreditch as a top cultural destination and boosting community spirit, The Stage has also been able to inform local residents about the development and create excitement around its construction. Residents of the 400+ homes will be part of a unique collective living on a piece of history.

Linkcity, the property development company that is part of the global Bouygues group, prides itself on the fact that its schemes link to existing communities and are outward looking, in contrast to the gated estates that were once popular. Managing Director Nicolas Guerin believes that creating a better life for communities should be the legacy developers leave behind

Furthermore, Countryside Properties, one of the UK’s leading homes builders specialising in placemaking and urban regeneration, work together with local authorities, housing associations and commercial organisations to regenerate public sector land and create new public spaces as part of their private and affordable homes, which are aimed at local owner-occupiers. Creating ‘Places People Love’ is more than just a strapline; improving local areas and life is integral to their projects and has helped them create lasting communities.

At Acton Gardens,  Countryside Properties are engaging with local residents to conduct regular reviews of the way in which their regeneration of one of London’s largest estates is being received by the community. And the subject of their recent annual Alan Cherry Debate was measuring the social impact of regeneration – highlighting just how important consideration of the community is.

An engaging workplace

There has also been a major shift in the way people work, meaning community and placemaking are now just as integral to the workplace as they are to our home lives. Office developments now have a focus on fostering collaboration between employees and even other businesses, with co-working no longer just a buzzword, but a widespread way of working that caters to an ever-more mobile workforce.

At TOG, a leading provider of co-working spaces in the UK, a belief in the power of community and collaboration sits at the heart of the business. Communal areas, including lounges, libraries, music rooms, cafés and terraces, are core to TOG’s workspaces’ design. These, combined with a community team that organises events for members and help connect people by making beneficial introductions, have led to long-term relationships with tenants and thriving business communities within their buildings, in which people want to be involved.

AshbyCapital has also embraced flexible working, incorporating cafés into many of their office developments such as The Colmore Building in Birmingham and The Avenue on Tottenham Court Road, where employees can escape their desk for a couple of hours.

 

It’s human nature to seek out personal connections, whether in our home or work lives.  People want to feel a part of something bigger, therefore, with a little innovation and investment to build more than just bricks and mortar, buildings can have a positive and enduring impact on the people who use them, leading to long-lasting success.


 

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