Residential innovations are the norm in a healthy neighborhood, but residents must be considered

Developers of large areas are increasingly focusing on innovations such as shared mobility, shared facilities, and additional “smart” services. It relates to urban trends for a healthier living environment and dealing with scarce spaces. You have to include the residents in these innovations to make them work properly, is the experience.

Major developers of the area are paying increasing attention to sustainable and healthy living environments, in which, among other things, poor air quality and loneliness are addressed through modifications to ‘traditional living’.

Meeting spaces are increasingly found in new apartment complexes. It is also no longer customary for two cars to be parked in front of the door. Shared mobility as a complete alternative is becoming increasingly common. Digital sensors and apps can automatically open and close windows when indoor air quality is below par. Some innovations are included as standard with the home or neighborhood, and other innovations are optional.

According to area developers Heijmans, Ballast Nedam Development and BPD I Bouwfonds Area Development, these novelties may raise questions among home seekers. Because what if I need a car and shared cars aren’t available in the neighborhood? Why is the area developer asking me to deliver my packages at a central collection point and not to the front door?

How to deal with these questions and concerns from home seekers is a question that developers are dealing with. Do you really need to convince and educate your customers to live more sustainably or consciously? Or is it simply the new rule?

“Persuasion indicates that there is a choice in most cases.”

Home student, don’t expect a car in front of the door

“Persuasion may indicate that in most cases there is a choice,” says Onno Dwars, CEO of Ballast Nedam Development. He sees living with sharing options increasingly becoming the norm. Moreover, the scarce space and high construction costs force the area’s developers to use the space more efficiently.

Shahid Taleb, Smart City Director at Heijmans and Peter van Auveren, North West Regional Director at BPD I Bouwfonds Area Development, also see in their day-to-day work that the way of living, and therefore development as well, is in transition. “It’s really the natural course of action for us,” says Taleb. “Different choices in mobility, home and neighborhood design can improve the quality of living by making the living environment more sustainable and more social.”

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For example, a student mentions the implementation of a digital neighborhood platform, where residents are encouraged to help neighbors with household chores for a small fee or receive a signal about possible suspicious activities among local residents. “It helps residents take care of each other, by keeping an eye on each other’s homes while on vacation, and it also strengthens social cohesion.” According to him, other innovative modifications are automatic systems that alert residents to the air quality inside and outside their homes or the number of shared cars available.

A healthy, green living environment leads to happier residents with lower healthcare costs, and has positive effects on space use, according to social cost-benefit analyses. This is the conclusion of a major study by Ecorys commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW). Thus, municipalities are investing more in this, as the region’s developers see.

According to Doars, home seekers who expect to be able to park one or two cars in front of the door will be disappointed. Van Oeveren also believes that residents in big cities like Utrecht and Amsterdam are already experiencing some luxuries, such as having their own car in front of the door.

Municipalities love to see concepts such as shared mobility reflected in new construction projects. It reduces traffic and parking pressure and improves the living environment in terms of air and sound quality.

“We won’t wait for others to do it.”

This is less true for small towns and villages. But Talib expects the new life to land there, too, sooner or later. Health zone developments are also now emerging in places where the vehicle is still dominant or considered essential. The student cites the Maanwijk sites in Leusden and Park Vijfsluizen in Välardingen as examples. In Vlardingen, Heijmans was looking for an innovative vision of living, where health and greenness are of paramount importance.

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“We will not wait for others to do this,” says Taleb. According to him, the development of the area is more than just stones and walls. You don’t want to build for the sake of building. Tenders often say something about a healthy living environment or residents’ happiness, while we hear at a table with municipalities that people attach importance to it.

You get used to it first, then you’re satisfied

Whether choosing a home without a parking space would be a conscious or forced choice, the three district developers agree that future residents should be involved in the development of the district early in the process.

This is done, for example, via customer journeys, my digital “home environment” with weekly mailing and personal setup even before the first contact with the home student.

“The home student is very consciously interested in the way they are going to live when they move, so as an area developer you need to discuss this with them at the time,” Van Auveren says. We are increasingly providing residents with the concept of housing with shared services such as dry cleaning, bike repair point, physiotherapy or shared transportation. Residents have to get used to this at first, but later realize that the shared facilities are in fact at least as nice as the living they were used to before.

Doars and Taleb also say residents and municipalities are satisfied with the partial offer. Dwars: Of course people can move voluntarily if the concept isn’t what they’re looking for. But most of all I see that they stay there. Then you hear again that they like to meet their neighbors more often in communal facilities.

“The most important thing is to research precisely what the residents want in their living environment. You are open to their ideas about the neighborhood or apartment complex in which they will live. According to him, a district developer can provide better tailored services to the residents in this way. Student: “If you Understand the residents well, listen carefully to what they need in their area or complex and adequately integrate them into the development process, the living environment with innovations and additional services works better.”

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Even after delivery contact

In order to determine whether residents are also satisfied in the long-term with shared car living, digital applications and new methods such as a central point for parcel delivery, area developers are increasingly involved in a housing project. According to the area’s developers, paying attention to the effects of some new options on a healthy living environment provides valuable information about what works and what doesn’t.

“Heijmans does a lot of mapping in collaboration with residents and parties like Staatsb Glosbeheer,” says Taleb. From air quality to biodiversity and the convenience of digital applications such as the neighborhood platform, Heijmans tracks how happy residents are with their innovative housing projects at many points.

This is in line with our strategy of creating healthy living environments. For our upcoming projects, we also want to know what contributes to the happiness of those who will live in our projects in our area, says the Smart City Manager. Heijmans gets these ideas from her previous projects, which she will continue to monitor for a longer period of time.

Ballast Nedam Development does the same for some projects, such as the Cartesius Utrecht housing project. Here we will test how the population responds to innovations and changes in the living environment. Also in Maastricht, after the Groene Loper is built, we’re mapping out the social cohesion between neighboring neighbourhoods, says Dwars.

I believe that making the living environment greener and healthier can really improve our health and our years of life. Just like after the sewer was built.

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