Providing green alternatives

Environmental considerations should be taken into account during the design and planning of the community and its buildings, to ensure that making environmentally friendly choices are easy and appealing to new residents.

New homes will increasingly employ new technologies, such as solar panels, and ground source heating. Residents may require specific information about how best to operate and maintain this technology and property developers, housing associations and other landlords will need to provide this information. Potentially this role could also be undertaken by a social enterprise or stewardship organisation.

People need to be encouraged to use the good quality, low-impact transport options that are to be provided in the new settlements. As people settle in it will be helpful to provide them with detailed information about the choices available to them, how to use the local transport options and realistic journey times. Incentives might also persuade them to use public transport more and their own vehicles less. Residents will need to reach local schools, transport facilities and shops easily on foot or by bike in order to encourage them not to use cars for routine journeys.

Cycling has become increasingly popular in the UK, especially in city centres. In small and medium-sized towns that are relatively flat, cycling could prove to be one of the easiest and fastest ways to get around. Cycle lanes, separated from road traffic, will help to reduce any safety concerns for residents. Cycling proficiency classes for both young people and for adults can help to build new cyclists' confidence.

Many communities, particularly in Northern Europe, have kept cars away from residential areas by providing communal car parking at the edge of the housing development. This will help reduce the dominance of cars in the built environment and will make streets safer, allowing young children to play in them. A further knock-on effect of this might be a reduction in crime, if more people are using public spaces.

Car sharing schemes have proved popular in many European cities, and can offer a practical and much cheaper alternative to car ownership. In these schemes residents are able to hire the use of locally parked cars for just a few hours or for a day at a time. The new development in Hammarby Sjöstad includes a car share scheme.

Recycling of waste is now carried out by all local authorities and should be implemented in new communities alongside existing ones. Information to explain how to separate waste for collection will still be needed.