How to Create Streets: a communities' guide

K Village

Does calling this a village make it one ?

"A brilliant guide for communities by Create Streets to getting better homes and streets in their neighbourhoods" Local Planning Officer


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If you want to have a say in what goes on in your neighbourhood, do this...


1. Find out what types of building, material, typology and style local people prefer. See if your council has any information on this (it's unlikely), and if they're unwilling to find out, conduct some basic research yourself using free online polls and focus groups.


2. Publish your results and lobby your councillors to embed this in this in their planning strategy. Ask officials how they will make use of your evidence and what practical changes need to be made - e.g. on street width and light regulations.


3. Organise neighbourhood forums and use neighbourhood plans to both allocate land and set out the types of urban form and buildings that you like (there is funding available to help you do this).


4. Encourage the council, developers and other local residents via neighbourhood plans to undertake characterisation studies. What gives your area its unique character - building height, materials, block size, and height to street width ratio?


5. Think about ‘typology’, ‘form’ and, yes, streets. Why are certain areas more walkable than others? Do planning rules mean this can't be built today?


6. Remember high density categorically does not require high rise or large blocks. With a conventional street-scape (medium-rise terraced housing, tightly organised but on a human-scale) you can normally achieve high densities.


7. Lobby your councillors to push for viability assessments to be made transparently public, so that they face the scrutiny of independent experts.


8.  Shift the debate on economics. Better-designed, more modestly scaled buildings are much better economically in the long-term than huge high-rise buildings.


9. On larger schemes, demand a co-design approach where you as local residents get to design the scheme together with architects, developers, and local planners over several days. Don't be content with just being 'consulted' after the plans have already (near enough) been decided.


10.  Demand a Design Code approach - a set of illustrated rules and requirements that new buildings have to comply with to get planning permission, so that new development is in keeping with your local area. The BIMBY toolkit from the Prince's Foundation can help here.







Where can I find out more?


Here is our guide for communities: Love thy neighbourhood: the Create Streets community guide to creating happy, healthy places. This is our how-to guide for communities on how to create a Neighbourhood Plan and change your neighbourhood for the better.


Our recent publication Heart in the Right Street explores the relationship between wellbeing and the built environment, and how certain types of urban form are better for our wellbeing. Click here to find out more.


The Forum for Neighbourhood Planning allows you to share experiences about neighbourhood planning and access relevant news, resources, and case studies (click here).


Locality is a national network of community organisations, which also offers helpful guidance on neighbourhood planning here.


A comprehensive guide from the Department for Communities and Local Government can be found here.


Also look at the BIMBY toolkit from Prince's Foundation.




Showing how it can be done


Community groups are starting to campaign for better development or to oppose particularly insensitively-scaled or conceived proposals. Some groups are new. Some aren’t. Some (like the important Skyline Campaign) are London-wide. Some are very local. Some are more ‘formal’ than others.


Click here for a list of groups (in London) that have an online presence.

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Based on our research and experiences working with community groups, we’ve put together some top tips on what you and your community can do to get better homes and streets built in your neighbourhoods.


The key points are:


  • Organise your local community into a force that councillors, planning officials and developers have to listen to, through neighbourhood forums and neighbourhood plans;


  • Lobby your council into taking a research-driven approach to planning; taking account of a proper factual understanding of what people like and want, a long term approach to quantifying economic benefit, and clear, transparent viability assessments;


  • Demand, for large sites above all, that you and your community are directly involved in a co-design approach and in the creation of a deign code so that your preferences on what gets built, get built.