Featured article from our archives – October 2022
The architects BroadwayMalyan last year published a new report, which looks at the historical context, and future, of the UK village.
It views the village in its historic landscape and looks forward to how the village might develop given the ‘right’ or ‘necessary’ infrastructure support.
In the sixties the economist J.K. Galbraith came to see suburbs as a sort of camp, or island, for the affluent. There is something of this perception in the BroadwayMalyan analysis.
‘However, existing villages do have their drawbacks. Villages are the most expensive places to live in the UK outside London…’
The report attempts to map existing constraints on village life, and overlay new opportunities, or issues, that might be grasped. For example…
• Rural villages, as bases of multi-faceted active economic output, have diminished capacity historically.
• UK villages tend to have an older, affluent demographic and this affects the utility of local village schools, for instance.
• As costs rise, and services need to adapt to new consumer demand, the village needs to be flexible and opportunist to take advantage of new markets. Many are not able without creative development thinking.
• The internet plays a key role in community and economic development, particularly post-Covid. The slow spread and lack of investment in high speed broadband hampers village development economically.
• Low density of population mitigates away from the delivery of core direct health and well- being support. Another factor hampered by the reach of the internet, as above.
• With older age cohorts in villages, the use of the car is a necessity to many, which contributes to poor distribution of joined up community transport and environmental harm, for example.
This document, The Reimagined Village from BroadwayMalyan, offers a number of new perceptions and objectives for a creative and effective socio-economic housing cluster – the UK village. Their view ahead is not all pessimistic…
‘If new villages are to become an effective antidote to
the housing crisis, they need to be reimagined to better accommodate the needs of modern society – both now and into the future – all while retaining the identity and charm that makes them an attractive prospect, and an integral part of Britain’s cultural fabric.’
Within the pages of the report lies an acknowledgement of difference and a recognition that each community, wherever it lies in the rural landscape, has a unique and particular tradition, and perhaps, a different view on the thorny political questions of economic development and new infrastructure.
It was comforting to see. Discover the work of BroadwayMalyan at their London office here.
Update: 19th May 2021
We subscribe to the Strong Towns Movement news-feed in the USA – they are currently publishing a set of articles on strategies and structures necessary for community development in the widest sense.
It is interesting, we think, how in the final analysis from the U.S./capitalist point of view, that public funding should be seen as the key catalyst for sustainable development in communities, of whatever size.
The Journal provides it’s readers with an eclectic mix of localism, community wealth building and enterprise creation that will not be unfamiliar to UK social enterprise readers.