Is the future of urban space heading to promote better social cohesion?

Is the future of urban space heading to promote better social cohesion?

The subject of social cohesion is one which has long sat on the table for discussion. Perhaps now, more than ever, finding and promoting safe ways for communities to come together is of upmost importance for our future.

The topic is certainly trending. Nick Shattock, our Chief Executive of Impact Developments recently participated in an interview for the Estates Gazette and their Future of UK Cities conference. Part of a specialist panel, Nick shared our collective views in a 30min conference, exploring the power of public spaces. When asked about the future of public spaces from the perspective of a developer, Nick said:

“You have to change the way that you do real estate development and regeneration going forward. It is going to be a new way, it’s going to be about wellness, it’s going to be about outside exercise, it’s going to be about areas where people can rest and recuperate during busy and stressful days.(watch the full interview here).

The lockdown safety measures we have all experienced over the past months have revealed just how fundamental it is for us all to be able to step outside into a space that is refreshing, welcoming, safe and inclusive for all.

Prior to the pandemic, social cohesion was, to some extent, under threat from the increasing cultural and economic differences in contemporary cities and the increasing intensity of urban life. Public space, in its role as the main stage for social interactions between strangers, clearly plays a key ingredient in facilitating opportunities for social cohesion.

The question is, will recent events force the housing industry to rethink its approach to creating and regenerating public spaces, with better and more inclusive public realm?

During less restrictive parts of lockdown, public realm spaces such as parks and out-door gym areas have become sacred grounds for many. This highlights the need to include public realm in regeneration projects, masterplans and new build developments. The pandemic has brought forth a craving for communities to socialise, boosting social cohesion within urban societies.  

The industry has observed the importance of optimising how public space is designed and used and how the spaces between buildings and places are vital to the success of a society as a whole. As developers, designers and house builders, we recognise our responsibility to ensure that the spaces we create are responsive to social cohesion, incorporating inviting communal areas and greenery to foster inclusive living environments. We are working closely with like-minded organisations to ensure that the urban spaces we create incorporate social cohesion at their core.  

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