Residents’ views of new forms of high-density affordable living

The JRF have a new paper that I thought would be of interest.  It looks at how residents in high density housing view where they live.  I’ve yet to have a chance to read the report beyond the main findings, which seem to throw up some sharp challenges for anyone thinking or developing these sorts of schemes.

Here are the main findings:

  • Residents often reported that they did not feel that they lived at ‘high densities’, even though this was the case. They appreciated the innovative architecture and design that offered a sense of space and light within the homes.
  • Low cost home ownership (LCHO) respondents sometimes struggled to pay the cumulative costs of mortgage, rent and service charges. Some social rented tenants also found it hard to make ends meet.
  • Both owner occupiers and LCHO respondents felt that the scheme was made a less desirable place to live because of the presence of social rented tenants. Conversely, social rented tenants and LCHO respondents felt stigmatised within schemes where their homes were physically separate from ‘market price’ owner occupied housing.
  • The schemes had introduced greater socio-economic diversity into the areas where they were situated, but they were not always well integrated within those areas. Residents often reported feeling ‘separate’ from their neighbourhood. And although they felt safe in their developments, they often felt threatened by the surrounding neighbourhood.
  • Many of the residents felt housing management and maintenance were unsatisfactory and expensive.
  • Most residents either intended or wanted to move. This was usually because of the area in which the scheme was situated, rather than the scheme itself.
  • The research suggests that the Government objective of delivering more affordable homes in mixed communities will only succeed if close attention is paid to their management, how ‘affordable’ they are for LCHO residents, and the placement of the affordable properties within the scheme. The development also has to fit correctly within the surrounding neighbourhood and community.

If these look interesting then you can download the summary paper, or if you have more time the full report.

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About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
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4 Responses to Residents’ views of new forms of high-density affordable living

  1. rp says:

    That is interesting Andrew, and not unexpected of course, but I wonder if it’ll make any difference. Any developer would either ignore it or build it into a list of ‘aspirations’ that can then be ignored. Developers ‘after sales service’ obligations should be rigourously demanded and then enforced, and the same could apply to any council who was, in any way, a ‘stakeholder’.

    I read in the Mercury (I think) that a development in Woolwich, above a Tesco superstore, had been knocked back a bit by CABE and was hindering the Council there, which must be a good thing.

    Your digging out of these things is much appreciated by my (anyway)

  2. Andrew Brown says:

    Thanks, as you say not entirely unexpected, but usefully brought together.

    I agree about after sales service and management, and I was certainly trying (alongside residents) to get that for the redevelopment of the Heathside and Lethbridge estates when I was involved with that.

    Almost everything that CABE do is a good thing in my experience.

  3. It would be really interesting to know more detail about the schemes which were chosen for the research, as the location and the surrounding area, and the integration (or otherwise) with the neighbours seems to be a big influence. I didn’t have time to look at the main report, but from the summary it seems that they have kept this information confidential.

  4. Andrew Brown says:

    I’ve just taken a quick look at the full report and as you say their case studies are anonymised. But you do get the region they come from, the date it was completed, and the size and density of the development, so some useful information.

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