Community involvement in the design of social housing
The literature shows that there is much value placed in community involvement in the design of new social housing schemes, but little in the way of conclusive proof that it is effective. It was decided to establish the built effect of this involvement - did it make a difference to the houses? The research incorporates both qualitative and quantitative elements. A questionnaire survey of all developing housing associations was used to establish the current situation and four case study developments were selected and investigated in detail. The case studies were similarly sized housing developments located in London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Sunderland The survey shows that housing associations are involving tenants in a variety of ways. The predominant picture is one of participation in the latter stages of the design process, in the selection of the fixtures and fittings. There is also significant use of post occupancy surveys with results feeding into the housing associations' design briefs. There are no significant regional differences in approach but the size of association does appear to affect the community involvement techniques adopted, as does the procurement of the development site. Larger landlords use more involvement techniques and do so earlier in the process. The four case study developments show similarities in the pattern of the community involvement. Two types of involvement were isolated, and these are termed generic and specific. The former being where representative tenants are used to develop design briefs that are used in the development of all schemes, and the latter where the community is involved in the design of its own built environment. Overall the effect of involvement on the houses produced is small, with other factors in the development process being more significant; yet the processes isolated are associated with some built changes and these are unlikely to have been made independently of tenants' views.