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Neighbourhoods & Communities

The importance of neighbourhoods and communities

People spend the largest proportion of their lives in their home, in their neighbourhood.  Both have an enormous impact of how well people live and the resources they consume.

Neighbourhood location, local amenities and provision of public transport all determine fuel consumption and time spent in cars.  Design for solar access impacts individual houses’ warmth, light and energy use.  A neighbourhood’s impact on the environment is well-established with much that design can do to mitigate impacts on stormwater, plant and wildlife, and visual amenity.  Again, less obvious are the contributions a well-designed neighbourhood can make to residents’ health, comfort and enjoyment.  Designing for safety and walkability, providing local shops, parks and facilities, and creating a sense of community are all hallmarks of a neighbourhood that residents want to live in.

Community is the often forgotten aspect to neighbourhoods which are focused on the built environment.  Yet being part of a community is intrinsic to people’s happiness.   The trend toward community involvement in making decisions about their local area suggests that this is an aspect that could be usefully incorporated into neighbourhood retrofit to improve resident satisfaction and guide planning.


Supporting communities and building community capacity

Collective and collaborative participation in local projects builds strong resilient communities.  In recognition of the importance of vibrant, engaged communities, Beacon is supporting communities to initiate and lead change in their neighbourhoods, via:

  • training opportunities in community engagement and facilitation (in conjunction with Milenko Matanovic and the US Pomegranate Center).

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  • facilitating workshops to bring the community together to share information and ideas about what they would like to see and come up with a vision and approach for a project.

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  • providing independent facilitation of community efforts for planning decision makers as a means to meet desired outcomes in empowering communities.

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Building a Neighbourhood Sustainability Framework

 Our neighbourhoods research has developed a framework and tools to measure the sustainability of New Zealand neighbourhoods -  the Neighbourhood Sustainability Framework and Assessment Kit.  Find out about our research and learn more about the Kit.

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