As a child growing up, I use to play in the streets with all the kids from the neighbourhood while the mums would chat over fences. It was a proper sustainable community and everyone was proud of it. It was a place where people belonged. Looking at the situation in the UK now, the difference could not be more stark.
House building has reached a crossroad: soulless mass estates of “cookie cutter” houses are not the communities we want to grow up in. Building houses is not enough. Of course building good quality houses that are fit for purpose is key, but equally important is the interaction of people that live in them. It needs to be all about the community, the neighbourhood.
Some may say that I’m living in the past. In the post internet world with social media, teleworking and home working, aren’t people happier keeping themselves to themselves? More of us than ever have fewer social interactions at work, and more often than not we interact with our friends digitally, from afar. This is why our communities are more important than ever. They’re the social glue that binds us together, the roots we need to flourish, our real world support networks.
I would like to set this challenge to our industry: to build good quality fit for purpose homes and to create sustainable communities that people can belong to. It will mean lower profitability and it will take time and a lot of hard work. At SIAHAF we believe it will secure a better future for us all.