Social sustainability: concept to practice in the UK


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This presentation was given at a public lecture hosted by the Hebrew University at Jerusalem City Hall on November 1, 2012.

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Social sustainability: concept to practice in the UK

  1. 1. SOCIAL SUSTAINABILITY:From concept to practice in urban planning, urban renewal and new neighbourhoods What? Why? How? Saffron Woodcraft 01 November 2012
  2. 2. Social Life is a new organization with a long-heritage ofwork on communities, planning & placemaking.
  3. 3. 200 years of large-scale planned new communities in the UK but stillrelatively little known about what makes places thrive.
  5. 5. What is social sustainability?“A process for creating sustainable, successfulplaces that promote wellbeing, by understandingwhat people need from the places they live andwork. Social sustainability combines design of thephysical realm with design of the social world –infrastructure to support social and cultural life,social amenities, systems for citizen engagementand space for people and places to evolve.”Source: Social Life (2012). Design for Social Sustainability: a practical framework for buildingcommunities.
  6. 6. Table 1: Urban social sustainability: contributory factors, Dempsey et al., 2009. Source: Dempsey, N. et al., (2011). The social dimension of sustainable development: Defining urban social sustainability.
  7. 7. “Lexicon of austerity” & social unrest
  8. 8. Debate in planning practice: “… arguablycreates a space for innovation and changethat we have not seen for decades.” Bertolini et al., 2011. Planning and the Recession. Planning Theory & Practice, 12 (3)
  9. 9. Language of social sustainability is reframing and combiningexisting ideas and practices in new ways.Holistic way of approaching planning that considers socialneeds today and in the long-term.Emerging area of practice and policy. Much work stillrequired to build evidence base and practitioner experience.
  11. 11. The first question: what is a community?Source: Egan Review, 2004.
  12. 12. An alternative view: whatmakes a community?•  Physical boundaries to promote geographical identity•  Local myths & stories•  Visible leadership•  Strong social relationships, networks & bonds•  Opportunities for informal, spontaneous social encounters•  Rituals and rhythms•  Shared belief systems eg. garden cities, new towns, eco-cities.
  13. 13. Reviewing the evidence•  Experience from the English New Towns, Garden Cities & different forms of post-war council housing•  Extensive literature about mixed communities and neighbourhood deprivation in the UK•  International experience of planned new towns (eg. USA to China)•  Combined with practical work and applied research in new communities•  Experts workshops to corroborate findings
  14. 14. Barking Riverside, East London
  15. 15. Barking Riverside, East London
  16. 16. Buckingham Park, Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire
  17. 17. Whitecross Street Estate, London. Peabody Trust.
  18. 18. Birmingham CC: Viewing lessons learnt from Community Land Trusts & seeing if it will work as a model for Birmingham. Lozells and HandsworthLozells and Handsworth, Birmingham
  19. 19. Malmo, Sweden
  20. 20. Heygate Estate, Elephant and Castle, London
  21. 21. Heygate Estate, Elephant and Castle, London
  22. 22. Patterns in residents’ experience1.  Good housing, schools and safety are initial priorities but “novelty” of new housing wears off after 12-18 months if social infrastructure is inadequate2.  Cohesion & integration are local issues: affordable housing plays a key role.3.  Need for services, as well as buildings, to help people settle4.  Early provision is crucial – especially basic shops, schools, nurseries, community buildings, open spaces, transport and support workers5.  Spatial and social integration matter within new development & integration with wider neighbourhood6.  Shared public spaces and services are important to encourage informal interaction & to build trust
  23. 23. Patterns in residents’ experience7.  Lack of social infrastructure affects community wellbeing and can create reputational issues8.  Involving residents in planning community infrastructure creates better built environment & stronger local groups and networks9.  Strong connection between wellbeing and ability to influence local decision-making10.  Neighbourhood-based workers and/or micro-investments for community groups and projects make a big difference11.  Communities need ‘space to grow’ – physically and socially
  24. 24. “ … planning for hard infrastructure alone would never build acommunity … it would only be done by a matrix of formal andinformal opportunities or supported activities.” Cambridgeshire PCT (2007)“… where these facilities were already in place when people began toarrive, the community came together and networks were formed moreeasily” CLG New Towns Review“ … most mixing across social groups takes places between children. Itis these contacts … that provide opportunities to meet and formrelationships.” CIH/JRF 2005
  25. 25. The importance of social relationships to wellbeing, trust,community strength and willingness/ability to act
  26. 26. Social sustainability as a planning frameworkSource: Social Life, Design for Social Sustainability: a practical framework for building communities, 2012.
  27. 27. Building Blocks: Social &cultural life People-friendly layouts Timebanking – promoting Neighbourhood-based eg car free areas, speed mutual exchange and groups eg Neighbourhood reductions, eyes on the development of social Watch, Residents/Tenants street, well-lit areas capital though peer-to-peer Associations, Pledgebank timebanking or people-to- Distinctive architecture/ agency timebanking Inter-generational, cross- landscaping to reinforce/ cultural events and create sense of local Community projects activities eg Under One identity to encourage inter- Sun, The Big Lunch generational/inter-group Public and congregational mixing Local celebrations – eg spaces eg open spaces, festivals, street parties, parks, wide pavements, Neighbourhood Charter, fetes, family days, artists benches Community Design in residence Statement Third spaces (eg cafes, pubs, shops), playgrounds Local oral history projects Local rules and norms like East Midlands Oral and playspaces eg Home Zones, car free History streets, neighbourhood Connections to agreements, local taxes or neighbouring communities Local events – eg fundraising to avoid isolation eg litter picking, planting, pathways and shared fundraising Informal local currencies public spaces eg Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) Neighbouring activities Flexible working spaces to eg household network, encourage home-working, loanables local enterprise (eg spaces in a community centre or café)
  28. 28. Thames View •  Predominantly low -rise council houses built in 50s & 60s •  Roughly 50% white & 50% BME residents Great Fleete •  Private development built in 80’s Barking Reach •  Private development built in 80’s Barking Riverside •  Location of the new school and community centreFifth dimension: change in the neighbourhoodover time.
  30. 30. Freiburg Charter•  12 principles for sustainable urbanism•  Planning “collaborative experiment”•  “Magic triangle of urban development” – social cohesion•  Designed as a tool for progressive dialogue & practice in sustainable urban planning
  31. 31. merge whenneighbourhoods emerge when individuals have “Great individuals have neighbours of pridecollective neighbours have a collective a sense have a and their y ofresponsibility for the quality of the places where they live, the places where they live,Geough and visit.” Kevin McGeough work SPATIAL PRINCIPLES CITY OF NEIGHBOURHOODS NEIGHBOURHOODS CITY OF II SPATIAL PRINCIPLES degree of empowerment and degree of empowerment and personal personal II responsibility, is indispensable for cities and is indispensable for cities and responsibility, should be actively encouraged. should be actively encouraged. importance in: residential living and working, residential living and working, importance in: social infrastructure, education and culture, social infrastructure, education and culture, recreation and management of green spaces management of green spaces recreation and and networks. and networks. precondition for sustainable urban planning for sustainable urban planning precondition and development. and development. RIESELFELD is one of several newly developed neighbourhoods sever RIESELFELD is one of on brownfield land where the City of Freiburg has revealed its forward-tC brownfield land where the policies over the last three decades. Schools, churches, sports three d policies over the last facilitie Source: The Freiburg Charter for Sustainable Urbanism shops, recreation areas and public transport hubs give shape to the shops, recreation areas and Local markets are open for Local markets are open for heart of Rieselfeld’s community; a demonstration of the principles of heart of Rieselfeld’s commu business in the newly developed business in the newly developed Freiburg Charter. Freiburg Charter.
  32. 32. Government-backed schemefor assessing design qualityand spatial planning inneighbourhoods.Contributed to improvedpublic realm and integration ofsocial and private housing innew neighbourhoods.
  33. 33. Eco Bicester: working with council and developer of exemplar stageto build social sustainability into the ambitious new development,planned to be 20,000 homes over 20 years.
  34. 34. Community-led planning:Shaping amenities & infrastructure; addressing business &social issues; innovative work to capture different voices.
  35. 35. Development Trusts & Community Land Trusts:Managing assets, delivering services, providing affordablehousing.
  36. 36. Chapter 5 Step by step guide to developing a local charter 25 What are the community’s priorities? What do existing documents, surveys, and forums tell us about local community priorities? What do local councillors believe community priorities are? Is additional consultation on priorities needed? – Are all areas of the community represented by the existing information? – What could additional consultation be coordinated with? What are agency priorities locally? What services do agencies provide locally? Where does the delivery vary from the norm? How to develop a local charter Which LAA targets are particularly relevant for the area? What are agencies’ priorities locally and which initiatives do they wish to pilot or promote? A guide for local authorities What local level data do agencies have on the community and community level needs? What will the charter cover? What actions are planned to meet local priorities? Is the charter going to focus on all relevant issues or will the charter be better focused on a single set of issues? Is there consensus on local priorities? Is there a consensus on priorities for the local area? Do If agencies won’t agencies and communities agree? Do voluntary and engage, what community sector organisations agree? is the role of the Is there a community organisation with an appropriate local authority, LSP, mandate to agree community input and responsibility on local members to behalf of the community? If not what further consultation is encourage buy in? necessary? What will the published charter look like? Is the charter short enough to publish in its original form? If not, how can a shorter, more readable version be produced? How will the costs of publication be met? Is the charter written in plain English and in an accessible style? Does it include contact details for service providers and local councillors? Charter signed and published Who will sign the charter on behalf of the local authority and community? Is there LSP endorsement of the charter and commitment by them to monitor? Will there be a high profile launch event? What wider monitoring and evaluation will be put in place? community, opportunity, prosperityCommunity charters & agreements:Tools for dialogue & shared responsibility betweenresidents and public agencies.
  37. 37. Timebanking & neighbouring schemes:Building social networks and mutual aid; creating sharedexperiences for people from different backgrounds.
  38. 38. Meanwhile use:Temporary and pop-up use of land and buildings to boostlocal economic development and create community focus.
  40. 40. Could other frameworks we be used?
  41. 41. Social sustainability indicators•  Three dimensions, 13 indicators, underpinned by 45 questions•  Majority of questions from nationally recognised surveys or industry frameworks•  Small number of created questions
  42. 42. Data analysis The•  Data from residents survey Hamptons benchmarked against national data OAC & statistically tested categories•  Benchmarked against national psycho-geographic categorisations (OACs)•  Only results that had statistical significance reported•  Site survey data assessed against industry standards•  Created questions assessed separately
  43. 43. Empire Square, Bermondsey567 homes, 30% affordable, completed 2007
  44. 44. •  Pic and v short descriptionImperial Wharf, Fulham1,428 homes, 47% affordable, completion 2013
  45. 45. Knowle •  Pic and v short descriptionKnowle Village, Hampshire701 homes, 31% affordable, completed 2012
  46. 46. The Hamptons, Worcester Park645 homes, 33% affordable, completed 2012
  47. 47. Resident responses
  48. 48. The Hamptons
  49. 49. Spatial exclusion of different housing tenures createdtensions.Few if any opportunities to shape decision-making aboutphysical environment or social life.Problems encouraged residents to organize and act. Initiallyas campaign group, now to run community assets.
  50. 50. Challenges and future work•  Social sustainability is complex and context specific•  Requires serious consideration of how social justice & equality translate to the built environment•  Investment in capacity-building within public agencies/government and private sector
  51. 51.