Valparaiso, Chile. May 10, 2015: Houses on Cerro Concepcion, Valparaiso historic World Heritage of UNESCO

The United Kingdom forms a group that will be exploring what makes a place a great place to live and think it's aimed at community. This insight will help inform the big need for housing that our nation faces.

The conversation about social housing rarely gets beyond questions of how many more homes we need.

Despite the planning disasters of previous generations, when estates built in the wrong places, lacking the infrastructure necessary for community, ended up being , we scarcely factor in community when thinking about solutions to our housing crisis.

We need a much richer debate, especially in the north, where jobs, transport, social facilities, family networks and much more, all need to be taken into account if we are not to continue the drift of population .

It’s now almost 30 years since, as a young Church of England vicar on the outskirts of Rotherham, I joined the board of a housing association. What sparked my interest was rooted more deeply than a desire to build; it was my calling to care for the lives and wellbeing of my parishioners, whether they came to church or not. As I went about my business, visiting people in their homes and talking with community figures, it dawned on me that the lack of decent, well-managed homes in safe, cared-for communities lay at the root of many of the problems that beset my parish.

Everything I have experienced since has confirmed my view. Our cities, towns, estates and villages ought to be great places to live; too often large parts of them aren’t.

Today I chair the association that provides much of the housing on a large estate near Manchester Airport. Yes, we want to build more homes, because we see unmet need. But that’s only the start. We want to build and sustain communities where people enjoy living and are proud of their place. We’re working to create a wider range of homes, so that older people don’t end up having to move away from family and friends when they need a bit more care and support.

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