We are the UK Government’s independent adviser on sustainable development. Through advocacy, advice and
appraisal, we help put sustainable development at the heart of Government policy

Building Houses or Creating Communities?

18 September 2007

Half demolished houseDespite the government's good intentions, residents risk missing out on sustainable communities in the push to get houses built quickly.

In its role as sustainable development watchdog, the SDC has undertaken its first thematic review. The report is based on site visits and interviews with local authorities, developers and residents, the SDC report assesses whether the Government has delivered on its promise to create sustainable communities.

The SDC is hugely encouraged by the way in which CLG Ministers are now addressing sustainability issues, and the report identifies some impressive pockets of good practice. But overall the SDC finds that few communities built so far are living up to the promise of being environmentally sensitive, well-connected, thriving and inclusive.

Findings include:

• Housing growth is taking place in severely water-stressed areas. There are serious concerns about whether these areas will be able to cope with increased demand.

• A lack of co-ordination means that some communities have been left without vital facilities, convenient bus routes, community centres, and parks when residents move in.

• Government has made real progress on climate change with its pledge that new homes will be zero carbon in 10 years' time. But the Government needs to offset carbon from now until 2016 by drastically cutting emissions from existing houses.

Recommendations include:

• Connect new housing with existing communities, rather than sprawling into undeveloped land. This will help to regenerate existing communities and improve job prospects.

• Ratchet up standards for water and energy efficiency measures, e.g. by installing water meters and high quality insulation in all homes.

• Consult residents extensively and in an on-going way about the future of their communities.


Main Report: Building Houses or Creating Communities?

Building Houses or Creating Communities? - Leaflet- An introduction to the issues

"There’s still a huge opportunity for Government to get this right. The priority must be to turn our existing communities into eco-towns." Rebecca Willis, Vice-Chair of the Sustainable Development Commission.

» Full press release

Evidence Base Papers

Paper 1: - In-depth review of sustainable communities policy
Paper 2: - Bridging Newcastle Gateshead
Paper 3: - Elevate East Lancashire
Paper 4: - Cambridgeshire
Paper 5: - Barking and Dagenham
Paper 6: - Stoke
Paper 7: - Manchester/ Salford
Paper 8: - Milton Keynes
Paper 9: - Blackburn
Paper 10: - Qualitative householder Research - South Cambridgeshire, Barking and Dagenham

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