Parks, proximity and people

Tom Marriage, Co-founder at COPA research, gives an overview of the collaborative research carried out by COPA and Argent Related mapping the changes in societal trends and wellbeing impacted by the pandemic in relation to the regeneration project at Brent Cross Town.

Last summer COPA collaborated with Argent Related to explore societal trends and the impact of the pandemic. We spoke to experts in property and beyond, conducted qualitative interviews and ran a survey with 3,000 UK residents, exploring how their lives had been impacted by Covid. Argent Related builds large mixed-use places in towns and cities where understanding the changing needs of customers is key, particularly in relation to their planning for the vast regeneration project at Brent Cross Town

We unearthed some juicy insights, for example that those who have had Covid tend to be more positive than those who haven’t.

Overall, 43 per cent of people agree that they are ‘positive about the future’. This jumps to 68 per cent amongst those who have had Covid. Perhaps increased optimism is an unreported symptom of the virus.

More generally however, Covid has led people to reassess priorities and change plans: lockdown epiphanies, planning new careers, moving house, or emphasising health and happiness over income.

People make a strong connection between health and wellbeing and where they live:

79 per cent agree that “Where you live is really important for your health and wellbeing”, while 62 per cent agree with that statement “I’d like to live in a town where everyone prioritises health and wellbeing over financial success.” 

Argent Related had already made this connection, appointing Heath Harvey as Project Play Lead to ensure that health and wellbeing, specifically in the guise of play and sport, are evident across Brent Cross Town. 

“Wellness is no longer a distinct category. It must run through the DNA of all businesses, brands and places. Our ambition is for Brent Cross Town to be the place in London to participate in sport and active play. Above and beyond the delivery of a superb mix of sports facilities, play will also be central to the wider development. We are looking to embed ‘play’ in all its forms (sport, music, culture, games, science) for all ages and all aspects of the development to ensure we deliver creativity, innovation, learning, mental and physical health and fun,” said Harvey.

We explored the concept of the 15-minute town, where daily amenities, schools, businesses and green spaces, are never more than a 15-minute walk or cycle away, promoting greater sustainability and, crucially, supporting residents to be happier and lead healthier lives: less stressful, more active, and more meaningfully connected to local neighbourhoods. 68 per cent of the people found the idea appealing, rising to 76 per cent of families with children. 15-minute neighbourhoods are already planned for Paris, and Brent Cross Town is perfectly positioned to deliver this new localism.

“Whilst ‘localism’ once contained negative connotations this is much less the case now. Pride in one’s local area and its amenities such as parks and green open spaces have taken on an all-new level of value and appeal over the last year. These spaces have become our gardens, gyms and meeting places, delivering positive benefits for people’s physical and mental health…Parks are thriving and access to them is prized more than ever,” added Harvey.

Argent Related has already been working with Dr. Jamie Anderson at the University of Manchester and Buro Happold to develop a way of measuring ‘flourishing’ so we can compare how well different places support the people who use them. This chimes with our research: people are more interested in how a development can support the health and wellbeing of its inhabitants than how well it performs economically. It’s our hope that the flourishing index will become used across the industry, not just by Argent Related. 

You can read the full report here.