Crime and Planning: Building Socially Sustainable Communities

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  1. Crime and Planning: Building Socially Sustainable Communities by Derek J. Paulsen
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  3. Sustainable community design and practices
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This paper draws out the key findings and recommendations of these three publications, which should be taken seriously and used constructively. What is clear from all three is the need, especially in urban and housing regeneration, for a joined-up approach to planning and design which links physical with cultural, social and economic development. Resident participation is essential, including the involvement of young people, who have such an impact on public safety and its perception.

Crime and Planning: Building Socially Sustainable Communities by Derek J. Paulsen

In this way it is possible to create safe and sustainable communities. Unable to display preview.

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Advertisement Hide. Research Article First Online: 01 October This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. Consultant in regeneration, housing and community planning; he was previously Hull City Architect and Professor of Architecture in the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside. More than half of the planet's population now lives in cities. In Europe, 32 new towns are being created in 11 countries. In China 20 new cities — dubbed "ghost cities", as many remain unoccupied — are being built a year.

Half a century of experiments shows what does not work: from the projects in Paris suburbs, to Chicago's Cabrini-Green, to Broadwater Farm in London and Park Hill in Sheffield, ambitious new developments have, over time, become the housing of last resort for the most desperate.

Sustainable community design and practices

In all these examples, professionals from different perspectives genuinely believed that they had found the answer to building at scale, while creating lasting communities. We still find that the different professionals involved in creating places — from architects to house builders, to local government officials — are more comfortable thinking about what can be constructed than understanding the lived experience of residents. We need to get a lot cleverer at finding ways to make places "socially sustainable".

Building sustainable communities and their worldwide network - Hiroyuki Sato - TEDxKyoto

Environmental sustainability is now well recognised if still difficult to put into practice. Social sustainability — finding ways to make places work for people, that are inclusive and cohesive, and adaptable in the face of changing circumstances — is a new challenge. There is strong evidence about the relationship between the quality of our local social relationships — how many people we pass time with on the street, whether we can call on neighbours for help with childcare, taking in a delivery, or shopping when we are ill — and how happy we are with where we live.

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The work that is needed to support this is the small scale, often unglamorous effort of community development workers and local neighbourhood groups. This work is vulnerable to cuts in public spending, it is tempting to trim that added extra even when it provides the social glue that holds communities together.


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  • Corner cutting can have a stark long-term negative impact; the financial and social costs of neighbourhood failure are high and include raised levels of crime, unemployment and mental health problems. Agencies and professionals need to raise their game and take up the challenge of social sustainability. The design for social sustainability framework advocated by the Young Foundation is a way to make this happen; we hope it will accelerate the growth of a new profession of social designers; those with the cross-cutting skills and expertise to make communities work.

    Next year the Young Foundation is setting up a new independent social enterprise, Social Life, to support this ambition, to provide a new space for rethinking the practice and politics of creating and bolstering communities to meet the pressing and urgent challenges of 21st century life. We need to do all we can to avoid another summer of riots.