People are now talking as much about their communities as their homes – and Jane Carpenter, Planning Director for Redrow in Wales, couldn’t be happier.
“The past year or so has seen the community conversation go mainstream.
“No longer the preserve of the politicians, policymakers, property, housing and technical professionals who create our communities, discussions on the value and notion of community have passed into the everyday.
“At the same time, people are more focused on the physical community immediately accessible from their doorstep than ever before. Travel plans have been shelved or moved closer to home, and an appreciation of our nearest environments has been born out of the worst kind of necessity.
“At Redrow, the importance of community is a conversation we’ve been having with our customers and our development partners for many years. And, while we are perhaps best known for the design detail of our homes, our starting point is always – always – community.
“Like any business serious about success, we are forensic about understanding our customers and listening to them. As housebuilders, that means understanding how they want to live, not just what they want to live in. And they have consistently told us, in broad terms, that they want plenty of green space and nature on their doorstep (not just their own gardens); in a place where they can mix naturally with neighbours and the neighbouring communities; and in a location where they can get where they need to easily.
“So when we look for a site, we usually look for something a bit different, with natural or historic features we can shape a community around. Transport is the next priority, with public transport links a must, so we’ll choose carefully or extend these, and we design community infrastructure that makes walking and cycling the easiest ways to get around, especially to school, work or the local shops. Green spaces are carefully planned to provide natural recreation and meeting places – essential to creating community cohesion.
“Then – and only then – come the beautiful homes.
“Housebuilders are, of course, only a part of the story, and successful communities are born of quite a community of professionals, working in partnership and with a clear vision and defined approach. We work very closely with a huge variety of professional partners: with local authorities; with local neighbours; with housing associations; with ecologists; with landscaping, infrastructure and transport specialists; with architects and urban designers. Focus on creating a successful community is what brings our various contributions together.
“In Wales we have the importance of our communities enshrined in law and the bringing together of planning, housing, transport, energy and environment at a policy level. At the same time, community has never been more important to or front-of-mind among our generation.
“There has never been a better moment for us to not just value our communities, but to work together to create the best possible versions of those for future generations in Wales.”