Shared values

Shared values can help unite populations of new communities, all of whom are recent arrivals. These values can enhance the character of a place, making it feel distinct from other towns and cities and might be an important factor in a new settlement's creation of its own 'story', helping to explain why it exists.

Cyclist cycling on footbridgeIn some towns and cities, people from different ethnic groups, faiths and socio-economic backgrounds lead fairly separate lives, often attending different schools, cultural or religious events and participating as members of different types of community groups. This separation can lead to a lack of understanding and create tension and suspicion between different groups.

Successful communities are those that share some common values, so that all residents, irrespective of their background, feel that they have something in common with each other. These values might centre on respect for local institutions, such as schools, or pride in the local environment.

The development of shared values might be particularly apparent in new settlements that have environmentally sustainable design features. People choosing to move to these areas are more likely to share some sort of commitment to pro-environmental behaviours, such as recycling or using sustainable transport. Ensuring that the infrastructure and services within the community support these behaviours will help to reinforce a sense that such behaviours are welcomed in the community. It may also be helpful to include a visitor centre, like 'Glashus Ett' in Hammarby Sjöstad, where prospective residents can look at a whole town model and understand better the vision for the new community. They would also be able to collect information about future health facilities, schools, shops and transport in the area.

By including potential new residents or newly arrived inhabitants in the process of creating a vision for a new community, it might be possible to identify some shared values early in the life of the settlement and act at that initial stage to help build on it. This may include new forms of social and physical infrastructure that could helpfully be included in early stages of the planning and design of communities, for example, in the case of recycling this might include garden clubs, allotments or specific facilities to help residents sort and separate their rubbish.