The lack of availability of affordable good quality sustainable housing is common to many European countries and indeed to other countries around the world. While there is a growing market for ecologically sustainable construction, there are special issues in regard to the social dimension of sustainability when developing new neighbourhoods from scratch. Gaps between existing and new residential groups, a lack of identification with place and a lack of identity of the community as a whole are rarely catered for in "standard" approaches to residential development.
In recent decades, the replacement of former labour-intensive manufacturing industries with services has resulted in a loss of employment opportunities for many people and the rise of vacant industrial sites. Additionally, much of the existing housing stock has become obsolete due to changing user requirements, revisions to building regulations, and even technological advances. Many post-industrial cities are still affected by growing populations. This coincides with an increasing development pressure and rising land prices in the inner city areas with the majority of new developments occurring in the suburbs outside of the city boundaries. This has resulted in "hollowing out" the city centres and in a polarization of the population. This ongoing transformation affects the socio-economic and spatial make-up of the city. The proliferation of derelict manufacturing sites that have yet to be brought back into beneficial use for city inhabitants coincides with a need for more aspirational housing in order to attract high-quality talent to the city and create intercity competition for talent.
To deliver more sustainable dwellings and communities, the approach to housing development is in need of a review. A Public Private Partnership (PPP) between the local council and developer is suggested to design and build affordable good quality housing that encourages a sustainable lifestyle and enhances community capital. To ensure "joint societal learning", the PPP is supported by an academic partner with consultative and monitoring tasks, exploring the use of custom built solutions which increase customer choice. The suggested process helps to build social capital, which fosters the evolution of an active, inclusive and environmentally sustainable community on sites that are currently derelict. Potential house buyers have the chance to customize their homes to suit their needs (such as tailoring the house design, choosing their preferred renewable energy systems or even choosing to take part in schemes such as a community power initiative). Having a choice of how their home will look like can potentially lead to more "interesting" places where people have an immediate sense of belonging or want to belong to, which means that community identity is more easily formed. Additionally, by reducing the risk for developers, the cost of delivering high-quality houses can be significantly reduced.
FACILITATORY (PUBLIC) BODIES:
community development department; planning and development department; urban regeneration department; environmental and sustainability department; energy and waste department
LOCAL TASK FORCE:
local and regional authority; investor; professional expert; community group; entrepreneur; business
urban region; underused urban site & building; brownfield development site; (sub-)urban communities
MAIN NECESSARY RESOURCES ARE:
monetary investments; space; expert knowledge; local knowledge; public institutional set-up; community trust
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