What can we learn from the Southern Fringe (2): Community

Following on from my last post about what lessons regarding transport should be learned from the Southern Fringe survey, today I’m turning my attention to community.

When planners and developers talk about promoting sustainable development, they are supposed to give equal weight to all three pillars of sustainability – the economic, the environmental and the social – but all too often, even when the economic and environmental boxes are ticked on a project, the social dimension is treated as an afterthought. The Cambridgeshire Insight survey examined a wide range of aspects relevant to the health and resilience of this new community of over 3000 dwellings (say 7000 people) created across four green belt sites, all on the very edge of Cambridge.

There is too much detail to do justice to in one post, but it seems timely to pick out some headlines, given a swathe of alarmist headlines related to life on the development over the last year:

Hunt for gang of youths targeting the guided busway

Trumpington called ‘dumping ground for problem families’

Trumpington parents want a private security guard

Let’s start by looking at how long the respondents to the survey say they have lived on the site and how long they intend to stay. As you would guess, this is a very new community – 12% of respondents have lived at their current address for less than one year, 48% of respondents for between one and three years. But just as importantly in terms of community building, this is also a mobile population – just over 30% of respondents intend to move on within the next three years.

The survey also looked at tenure types, which vary considerably across the four sites; and at levels of occupant satisfaction with the local area as a place to live. Across the whole Southern Fringe, occupants in the private rented and social rented sectors reported being more dissatisfied than the owner occupiers and occupants with intermediate tenure (eg shared ownership); but the social rented sector also had the highest proportion of respondents who are very satisfied with the local area as a place to live

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