Social and demographic changes are having an increasing impact on our communities. An aging population, growing demands on the education system, evolving working practices and changing family lifestyles, all mean that housing, education, health and social care need to adapt. At the same time, constrained public spending and the impact of rising inflation demand fresh thinking about how the places where we live, learn and work are designed, built and managed. 

At Rydon, we are committed to delivering quality solutions in the built environment for education, housing and healthcare to shape and advance people lives. Understanding and adapting to social change is key in enabling us to achieve this and here are some of the factors we see impacting the communities we serve:

Healthier and Happier Lives
People are living longer and in many cases, are remaining more independent and active than ever before. Alongside medical advances, this means that the nature of health and social care is changing.  We are seeing a greater emphasis on preventing health issues, more demand for assisted living and care at home and changes in the type of medical conditions which need treating. 

As a result, many health authorities find themselves with a legacy of facilities designed to cater for the needs of society decades ago. Bringing in an independent perspective can help reallocate and reuse these assets. For example, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust entered a joint venture with Ryhurst, to invest in new facilities and make efficiency savings. The partnership has led to £5 million in revenue savings and an improvement in space utilization of 39%. This has enabled the Trust to create a new 154-bed residential mental health facility and a Care Hotel to support frail and elderly patients, both of which better meet the changing needs of the local community. 

Education and Investment
The UK Government is looking to create 600,000 new school places by 2021 but headteachers face the first real term budget cuts in more than 20 years. Spending per pupil has been frozen until 2020. With costs such as pensions and national insurance contributions rising faster than inflation, the Institute for Fiscal Studies reveals real term cuts of 8% over this period. 

A number of schools are exploring alternative options for funding new buildings and refurbishment of existing facilities. St John’s Primary School in West London has used a cross-subsidy model, which released the existing school site for redevelopment into 55 new private sale homes. The proceeds from these sales have funded the construction of a larger, modern school able to accommodate 210 more pupils and add 100 nursery places. 

Homes and Opportunities
Oxford Economics and the Homes and Communities Agency have stated that “families living in poorer quality, less desirable housing stock face lower life chances.” As such, regenerated estates and well maintained social housing can have a direct, positive impact on people’s lives. 

Increasingly we’re seeing housing associations and local councils looking for contractors and developers who will deliver the same quality for affordable and social tenants as they will for private buyers. Furthermore, contractors who not only build houses, but also create communities where people want to live, work and raise their families, are in higher demand. Taking the time to understand prospective tenants’ needs is critical, as is the ability to work in partnership to meet them.

Green Man Lane estate in the London Borough of Ealing is a good example of this approach. The existing local authority housing estate, comprising 464 flats, is being demolished to make way for 770 new homes, over 400 of which will be provided for affordable rent and shared ownership. But this is only one element of the work taking place – the well-considered masterplan includes a community heating system and facilities such as a café, arts centre and an improved and enlarged primary school for 630 pupils. In-depth consultation with residents, neighbours and local stakeholders has also ensured that land development leads to skills development within the estate. Rydon is working with four apprentices and six individuals undertaking work placements all from the local community. A commitment to using a minimum of 20 percent local labour also underlines Rydon’s work with the local community as part of the overall construction of the scheme.

Historically, the demand for new houses, schools or hospitals led to a focus on volume, speed and short-term contracts which has exposed public bodies to unequal partnerships with the private sector. This compounded some of the societal challenges we face and there is a recognition that longer term, more sustainable approaches are needed to build communities and cater for our changing lifestyles and needs. 

To find out more about how Rydon is shaping lives, please watch our video here.

Andrew Goldman
Group Marketing & Technology Director at Rydon