What makes a sustainable place? Building communities into development plans

With house building still dominating the development agenda, considering and providing for community is as important to placemaking as ever. Here are 5 ways to ensure that community remains at the centre of sustainable placemaking:

1. Connect
Developments should be planned to allow sustainable growth by providing safe, continuous active travel routes (foot, bike and wheels) and convenient, regular public transport (rail, bus, Metro). Layouts should prioritise people-movement rather than private cars through connecting communities and transport hubs. On a wider scale, local plans should reflect a contextual, strategic, regionally appropriate response – considered and developed alongside neighbouring investment and development strategies.

2. Enable people to walk cycle and wheel to local facilities
By reducing the reliance on cars. Growth and regeneration should be focused on mixed-use local centres, transport hubs, as well as increasing density within cities and towns. This includes sustainable access to job and business opportunities.

3. Plan with green infrastructure principles
Locations and levels of growth should be developed within a nature-based approach, focusing on protecting and enhancing ecology and biodiversity. Green principles focus on addressing climate change, the sustainable use of natural resources, and maintaining and developing resilient environments.

4. Provide opportunities for community connection
And provide places to walk and rest away from the main traffic routes, informal and formal play spaces, and places specialised for specific groups of local community i.e. safe spaces for girls.

5. Listen, reflect and learn from existing communities
A valuable, sometimes overlooked, resource. Existing communities, interest groups, and key community members provide an evidence-based approach to building successful communities. At Grasshopper, our role as community engagement specialists helps developers forge and nurture strong and lasting relationships with communities to deliver better projects and lasting social value.

by Marcelle Newbold