Circle Square

The benefits of communities and neighbourhoods

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How communities and neighbourhoods help people and places flourish together to achieve common goals.

Integrated city centre neighbourhoods, where people come together not just to live, but to work, play and study, can be hugely beneficial to the people that populate them. Seen as a much more efficient use of urban spaces, these communities help everyone come together to achieve common goals and make success a big part of the community. Factors like lower unemployment rates, higher graduate numbers and improved job creation are just a few of the ways that success can be evidenced.

Jane Jacobs, the urban activist, once said that it is the people who populate them who make these type of settlements and it is to them, not buildings, that designers and architects need to fit their plans. It’s this mindset that is important when it comes to the development of communities and the realisation of their benefits. As such, it’s important when a community is created, that it is built around people and their collective successes.

It is for reasons like this, according to the ‘From architecture to cultural life’ report from the Guardian, that neighbourhoods are becoming more like ‘garden cities’ rather than traditional set-ups. These are built around the notion of social space rather than private, encouraging people to socialise where they live to make their community one of the most important parts of their lives.

Skills retention and opportunities

One benefit that the community element of living can have for the modern neighbourhood is that it can help to foster a mentality where skills retention becomes the norm.

Brain drains are a problem for any settlement, be it an urban sprawl or a tighter community. While education can attract people to regions, it becomes hard to keep these skills local after people graduate.

The reasons for people leaving tend to be that they see success and job opportunities elsewhere. This is where integrated neighbourhoods built around strong communities can play a pivotal role in changing trends that have been in evidence for years.

While people are studying, they are also living, mixing and socialising with successful people working in skilled careers. These random interactions can turn into strong pillars when creating neighbourhoods that can be positioned as a long-term option, where they not only study, but can also grow and thrive later in their career and life.

This can be seen in areas where there are already high numbers of successful graduates. For example, Manchester is one of the main hubs of graduate careers in the UK, 50 per cent of companies offering such schemes having roles available in the city. This sort of scheme and the creation of integrated neighbourhoods in the city will have a strong impact on successfully raising the figures for student retention.

According to a report from Select Property Group, Manchester’s thriving and ever improving jobs market is contributing to a better graduate retention rate. It said that over the last four years, more than 8,000 jobs have been created, with a further 4.3 per cent rise expected in the next five years. This has helped to improve graduate retention rate, Select Property Group said, to 70 per cent.

Comparing this to Centre for Cities data for other cities nationwide shows that Manchester is now second to only London, where 76.9 per cent of graduates will remain in the capital, and ahead of other cities like Birmingham and Glasgow, which retain fewer than half of graduates.

Success breeds success, and if skills retention increases, more businesses and skilled job opportunities are introduced, and the neighbourhood can flourish as a whole over the long term.


Achieving goals as a community

One of the biggest elements of any community and neighbourhood is the notion of a social togetherness. When people feel like a part of something, where they live, work and function as one, they are more likely to be aligned to common goals, helping to achieve them together.

It’s a notion that was brought to life by the Incredible Edible Network in Todmorden in the north of England. Started in 2007, the network began life as a small group from the local area who were growing fruit and vegetables in herb gardens and community plots to help bring everyone together and get them talking about food together.

Ten years later, there are now 100 Incredible Edible Network groups across the world, and it has grown to a place where it can now support local business and build learning centres to teach people about what they do, and the food that brought them together.

This community feeling is something that can be brought into new developments and communities. When these are designed with people in mind, it brings the local neighbourhood’s mutual needs and desires to the fore. It means people are more likely to work with and trust those they live with so they can make their common dreams a reality.

In essence, when a neighbourhood has a focus on people, with spaces created to enhance social interaction and encourage collaboration, success becomes a mutual goal. When this happens, the community that lives and strives there benefits hugely, and everyone within comes together to achieve as one collective neighbourhood.

To find out more about how we are designing a thriving community at Circle Square, visit our website.

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