Community Development Strategies offer housebuilders and developers the opportunity to shape the new communities they are building in a way that receives buy-in from the local authority, the existing community and, crucially, the rest of the development team working on the scheme.
Community Development Strategy (‘CDS’) is a term often thrown into conversation by developers, local authorities and consultants when talking about community building. In practice, it should be a document which sets out how the developer, authority or agency proposes to incorporate community development into the building phase of their scheme.
Increasingly, local authorities are requesting these strategies when preparing for planning permission, and it is vital that they are meaningful and offer more than just lip-service. They must work in practice and have clear added value to demonstrate the upfront spend that may be required to draft and launch such a detailed plan. Furthermore, the power of a CDS can – and should – extend much further than just gaining planning permission.
The CDS allows all involved parties to focus on the ultimate goal of enabling and empowering communities to ‘stand on their own two feet’ when the development is complete. Local authorities support the approach, as an empowered and self-sufficient community requires significantly less council and public health involvement, intervention, and funding.
However, as the development world continues to talk about the ‘lessons learned from lockdown’, these types of strategies are no exception. Lockdown has demonstrated that our work must be adaptable, fluid and under continuous review, with approaches updated as work onsite progresses. Priorities and project milestones often shift, sometimes by a few weeks, and occasionally by months or even years, as demonstrated in the extreme example of the Coronavirus lockdown. A strategy which is not adaptable and ready to be continuously used as a ‘bible of community priorities’ is a strategy doomed to failure.
Whilst many people have felt more connected during lockdown, through Zoom calls, online pub quizzes, and regular FaceTime calls with friends and family, we cannot ignore the already-isolated group of those without internet access. During this period, those individuals have found themselves more alone than ever, with social contact severely limited and casual socialising cancelled. Strategies that aim to develop the entire community must also include these often-forgotten factions.
Local authorities will also expect more from their potential development partners as we move away from lockdown restrictions. Community spirit and bonding has been at an all-time high during this pandemic, and we should be thinking about how we can continue to support and galvanise that spirit. Developers considering an approach for planning permission soon, particularly during this latter half of 2020, would be well-placed to spend some time putting together a CDS which not only supports their application but also genuinely helps their scheme create and nurture communities.
For support with your next Community Development Strategy, or to talk more about what genuine community development can look like, get in touch via [email protected].