The Impact of Social Prescribing on Property Development

25 Jun 24

Social prescribing can work particularly well for people with low level mental health needs, who feel lonely or isolated, with long term conditions and/or complex social needs.

.

Social prescribing involves health and social care professionals (known as social prescribing link workers) referring patients to non-medical activities and services within their community to improve their health and well-being. Social prescribing can work particularly well for people with low level mental health needs, who feel lonely or isolated, with long term conditions and/or complex social needs. While its primary focus is on individual health outcomes, the ripple effects of social prescribing are extending far beyond the healthcare sector, influencing various industries, including property development.

The essence of social prescribing lies in fostering community connections and addressing the underlying social determinants of health. As individuals engage in activities such as gardening clubs, art classes, or community volunteer programmes, they experience improvements in their physical and mental well-being and develop stronger social networks within their neighbourhoods. This heightened sense of community cohesion is a powerful driver for social inclusion.

Property developers are increasingly recognising the value of creating vibrant, connected communities within new developments. The principles of social prescribing align closely with the vision of community-centric developments, where the emphasis is placed not only on the physical infrastructure but also on fostering a sense of belonging and inclusion among residents. By integrating social prescribing initiatives into their projects, developers contribute to the creation of healthier and happier communities while enhancing the attractiveness of their schemes. This is particularly relevant in the Build-to-Rent sector, whereby satisfied residents result in a more stable income stream. In addition to designing accessible environments, many operators offer vibrant activities calendars including culturally diverse events that promote inclusion and respect, attracting a broader range of residents.

One way in which social prescribing can influence the industry is through the design of mixed-use developments. Incorporating spaces for community activities, such as carefully designed communal gardens, social hubs, or shared recreational areas, can encourage social interaction and facilitate the implementation of social prescribing programmes. These developments become more than just residential or commercial spaces; they become vibrant hubs where residents can engage in activities that promote their well-being. We have seen Health Impact Assessments and Equalities Impact Assessments submitted with planning applications being a useful tool for drawing out these benefits.

By providing space within their developments for integrated health hubs, community centres, or for local groups, developers can contribute to the accessibility and effectiveness of social prescribing services. This not only creates healthier, happier, and more sustainable communities for the future but can also enhance the appeal, reputation and marketability of new developments.

Jon Wright Associate,Planning