Social & Community Infrastructure
With significant housing growth planned for the county, we need to make sure the right kind of social and community amenities are in place. These include community halls and outdoor space; community development support for community groups; small scale funding to fund local projects; activities for children and young people; and opportunities for community leadership and volunteering.
Why is this important? If done well, new communities will feel positively about their community and the town or village of which they are a part. If community spirit and neighbourliness thrive, community organisations can ‘take root’ as the population grows. Areas with higher levels of community activity are more likely to experience higher levels of resident satisfaction and fewer problems such as antisocial behaviour or social isolation.
Without this support, a sense of community-belonging and neighbourliness is less likely to develop. Resident satisfaction levels may be lower, more people may become socially isolated and problems such as anti-social behaviour are less likely to be gripped at an early stage.
Most planning authorities build community amenities in the planning process. But there is a lot of debate about what is necessary, how much it should cost and where the funding should come from.
Placemaking Conference Report
Community First Oxfordshire and the Diocese of Oxford held a ‘Placemaking’ conference on 8 November 2016 at Oxford Abingdon Hotel.
Thousands of new homes will be built in Oxfordshire over the next years, often in large developments. The challenge is how to turn these developments into thriving, active and successful communities where people have a positive sense of belonging. Lord Matthew Taylor, former chair of the National Housing Federation and the Rural Coalition and a leading proponent of ‘Garden Villages’, was the keynote speaker. 130 delegates attended from communities and organisations across the County. These included District, County and Parish Councils, voluntary and community groups, churches and housing associations.
Other speakers included: Tom McCulloch, Director of Community Development at Community First Oxfordshire; Paul Silver, CEO of Dorchester Living; Martin Gorick, chair of the Diocese of Oxford New Communities Group; and Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Executive Board Member for Planning and Regulatory Services at Oxford City Council. Alison Webster from the Diocese of Oxford chaired the event.
Full Report on the conference:
In May 2015, Community First Oxfordshire was commissioned by Cherwell District Council to undertake a Social and Community Infrastructure Study. We were asked to:
– prepare a database of existing community indoor space provision with information on facilities, condition, demand and potential;
– define and justify levels of community indoor space provision and community development activity in relation to new housing development. This will inform the Infrastructure Development Plan;
– research and propose programmes for community development on new housing schemes; and recommend how to develop neighbourhoods that are well designed, popular and linked to the main settlements of which they are a part.
The final report will likely be available in December 2015.