Shared Community Space (Cultural, Recreational, Ownership)

Garden communities should be locally-led initiatives that empower residents to contribute to shaping the future of Essex. The Public Health England (PHE) Spatial Planning Guidance  states that neighbourhoods are places where people live, work, play and develop a sense of belonging. This should be the objective of all garden communities.

The design of a neighbourhood can contribute to the health and wellbeing of the people living there. Several aspects of neighbourhood design (such as walkability and mixed land use) can also maximise opportunities for social engagement, active travel and green networks.

PHE is currently working with ten housing developments across England to shape the future of health and care services on new developments. This provides an excellent opportunity to unite public health, health providers and commissioners, planners and housing developments in helping to create healthier places to live and work. For more details, refer to the ‘Healthy New Towns’ section of the NHS website. 

Garden communities should be characterised by permeable layouts that are well-ordered but also include informal elements (public, private and communal) to help create distinctiveness and interest.  

Other key principles to consider:

  • Operational costs should be kept to a minimum, with special rates for both businesses and community-owned assets. Energy generation opportunities may offset some running costs.
  • Recreation and exercise space is integral to the design of new neighbourhoods. Such spaces must be suitable for all ages and abilities, and within walking distance of the doorstep.
  • Children should be able to play safely in the streets and be close to schools and open spaces.
  • Natural surveillance can be created through the integration of children’s play space into active areas, i.e. adjacent to cafes.
  • The green environment should encourage social interaction, thereby enhancing residents’ health and positively impacting lifestyle choices.
  • The community hub should be somewhere that a community feels involved or valued, and should be designed to be less susceptible to vandalism or neglect.

Page updated: 4/12/2019

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