What success looks like
The ‘new towns' of the past are no longer new. The better known examples of earlier new settlements - Stevenage, Milton Keynes, Telford - offer a wealth of experience for today's community builders to draw on. Though not always immediately successful, lessons have been learned and today many of these areas have developed strong identities of their own. Those lessons, however, demonstrate the importance of building-in consideration for the long-term sustainability of today's new settlements right from day one.
Sustainable communities will need to be able to meet the needs and aspirations of their residents both in the immediate future and in successive generations by offering opportunities for people and their families to access:
- Good quality housing and built environment
- A diverse economy with local employment opportunities
- Good provision for public transport
- Excellent public services
- Environmentally-sustainable lifestyles
- A system of governance with strong accountability to residents
- Social and cultural facilities.
However, even with these factors in place, there is something more. Communities need an identity, something much less tangible but vital to their sense of being an established place. They need their own rituals and rhythms generated through markets, festivals and events. They need strong and resilient social networks, built around some elements of shared values or beliefs. These, in many cases, can be fostered by local institutions such as schools, faith centres or community centres which are at the heart of many developing communities. The practitioners and residents building new settlements can act as a catalyst for creating this sense of place by offering commitment and support to people as they arrive, helping them to develop their own organisations, events and festivals, and offering leadership for the process of growth and development. Over the long-term public agencies and the community must work together to ensure that the stewardship approach put in place from the start of a community's life ensures that it remains attractive to its own residents and others into the future.
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