Action plan for social housing spaces
6 July 2010
A practical action plan to help social landlords improve open spaces in social housing areas has been produced for the first time.
It demonstrates how social landlords can provide more opportunities for residents of all ages to enjoy the space on their doorsteps, whether they want to grow vegetables, compete in sport or simply chat with their neighbours in a safe and pleasant environment.
It has been produced by CABE and the National Housing Federation in partnership with Neighbourhoods Green and over 30 social housing providers.
Decent homes need decent spaces identifies ten priorities to improve the quality of the green spaces on social housing estates. Less than one per cent of people living in social housing said they use the green space on their estate, according to CABE’s new research, Community green.
These include committing to high quality spaces and to long term maintenance; ensuring improvements are led by residents’ priorities; and addressing the needs of children (up to half the population on social housing estates).
The action plan advises making places safer: fear about personal safety affects use of open space, especially within black and minority ethnic communities.
Sarah Gaventa, director of public space at CABE, said that too many inner city communities are missing out on the health and wellbeing benefits of quality green space close to home.
Social landlords need to create open spaces that residents are proud of and can enjoy - from exciting play areas to restful gardens.
Sarah Gaventa, director of public space at CABE
The action plan advises taking a joined-up approach – for instance mapping space to decide what improvements are needed; involving partnerships to generate funding; and involving tenants in the creation and management of their spaces.
All improvements can provide training opportunities: 25 per cent of social landlords report significant shortages of skilled gardeners and specialist staff such as landscape architects. Improvements to estates, parks and streets in one of London’s most deprived neighbourhoods generated jobs as well as showing that spaces are used more when made to feel safer and look more attractive.
The action plan includes examples of good practice and leads landlords to further information and advice. Sheffield Homes, with support from CABE, has embraced a new design-led approach to play on its estates. Work has started on Sheffield Homes’ first natural play area and tenants have been involved in fundraising for more opportunities. Groundwork in Manchester and Salford has improved the design and management of local alleyways that used to be a magnet for antisocial behaviour.