Turning Developments Into Thriving Communities
How much thought is given to building communities at new developments?
Pre-pandemic, The Future Communities Report was released by Eurocell Plc, revealing that a massive two thirds of UK residents feel too much focus is placed on building new homes, rather than vibrant communities.
In the years that have followed, the importance of supportive communities has only been heightened by long spells of isolation, loneliness and tedium.
A pretty strong case could be made that while developers are being pulled in a number of directions when it comes to contemporary expectations in homebuilding – making sure there’s ample garden space, a home office is essential, affordability is paramount – one thing that the industry can’t afford to let slip under the radar is facilitating strong communities.
Strong communities create a positive atmosphere around a development, maximising residents’ enjoyment of their surroundings. In fact, a key element of the Blue Zone concept, whereby certain areas of the world have been identified as having a higher than usual life expectancy, is community involvement, adding a cherry to the top of the social sundae that is an engaged neighbourhood.
Some developers may think that communities are something that will grow organically and that it isn’t something that they can force.
While a community’s growth can’t exactly be plotted step-by-step, there are a number of things developers could – and should – be doing to encourage those early interactions.
Meet the Neighbours Events
Arranging events for your development’s new residents to get to know each other is a great starting point for forming friendships amongst your home users.
Events can be held in the evenings or at weekends, to optimise people’s availability, and take place in a shared space, such as your sales suite or, if you have one, a community centre or shared hall.
To encourage interaction between residents, you can provide some information about the area, either in print or displayed on a large screen. This might include things to do or upcoming dates for their diary.
This information can act as a talking point as well as used for its practicality.
Finding Shared Interests
As well as providing information on local activities at an introductory event, supplying this type of information to your residents as standard can result in the blossoming of friendships where neighbours might have otherwise remained strangers.
Supplying handover solutions that give details of the amenities, businesses and charities near your development, will enable your home users to understand their new locality and what activities are available to them close by.
Our residential app, Spaciable Living, allows you to send notifications to your home users, reminding them of local events and activities, while keeping communication between you and your customers open and ongoing.
Another community building feature on our portal is the group Chat. This tool allows residents on the development to connect on the basis of common interests, sending updates and uploading photos to share.
This space also works well as a place for group activities to be organised and arranged between members of the community, such as book clubs, dog-walking groups and charity fundraisers. The portal’s facility booking system also enables residents to find a time and place in shared spaces for their chosen activity to take place.
As, ‘Positive experiences with communities allow individuals to feel more connected to their environment and the people in it,’ anything you can do to promote positive group activities will be of benefit to your developments’ sense of community.
Supplying Successful Aftercare Packages
Providing a comprehensive aftercare package can make a significant difference to the atmosphere on your developments.
When your aftercare package includes information about your development’s policies, such as BBQs, ball games, loud music, etc., it ensures residents are accountable and mindful of ensuring a pleasant neighbourhood for all involved. Our Home User Guides can provide an ideal way to share this information.
Providing an Effective Aftercare Service
When your home users move into your developments, it might take some longer to settle in than others.
It may not be part of your current service to offer counselling or care for lonely residents, but it could be very beneficial for your brand’s reputation to take an active interest in how residents are feeling a few months into life in their new home.
Checking in with your residents shows you care about their wellbeing, and gives you an opportunity to remind them of activities in the area where they might meet others and even make friends.
In this respect, Spaciable Living could be of much benefit. Checking in with residents is made much easier when communication has remained open. You can also remind any residents not yet experiencing community life to keep an eye on the development’s Chat page, to see if anything is posted there that they could get involved in.
To get residents involved in the local community, you can start by sharing details about their new surroundings.
The Area Guide feature on Spaciable provides details of local businesses, green spaces and places of interest close by.
This information can work to encourage residents to sign up to local events and initiatives, increasing their involvement within the local community outside the development, and ensuring they make the best of their new environment.
Community Starts with You
And finally, above all, the best way to make your home users feel they are moving into a warm and welcoming community is to lead by example.
When you are happy to see your customers, available to them when they need you and swift to act on issues that they make you aware of, you are already starting their experience of living on your development as one of cheer, goodwill and helpfulness.
This notion, stemming from Plato's idea that ‘Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others,’ is something we can implement into every aspect of our lives, including helping our customers to get the best out of what we have provided – a beautiful home in an attractive development.
To be available at all times to your customers doesn’t mean that you have to sleep next to your phone, waiting for distressed calls from your residents. Simply keeping communication channels open, as with Spaciable Living, allows you to demonstrate your availability to residents and respond to their needs within a good timeframe.