What we do

We focus on how people think and feel about their homes and communities, and how that experience can be improved. We do this through: 

the Quality of Life Framework

Services

Research

The Coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated to us all how important where we live is in determining our quality of life. This extends from how much space we have to what shops and services we can access within a short walk or drive from our house. We must therefore focus on what people need in the long term and ensure that we build with quality of life in mind. If we start asking the right questions now, then perhaps we can make something good come out of this.

Framework

The Quality of Life Framework

The Quality of Life Framework is a way of showing how our homes and communities affect our quality of life. It consists of six themes: nature, wonder, homes, movement, belonging and control. Each relates to a different aspect of people's experience. We are using this framework, developed in collaboration with URBED, to help people participate in the way their homes are created and cared for.

Services

Quality of Life Strategy

The Quality of Life Strategy embeds quality of life as a critical objective in each project as early as possible, then continues the process post-occupancy through the lived experience of residents and the surrounding community.

Part social value statement, part design review, it is a blueprint for improving people’s long-term quality of life through the way homes and communities are created and cared for. It provides developers and local authorities with a practical toolkit of tangible actions for wellbeing with an interdisciplinary approach that harnesses expertise in social value, urban design and environmental sustainability.

Training

To learn more about how to raise wellbeing and quality of life through the built environment, we are now running training sessions. Led by URBED, principal authors of the Quality of Life Framework and of the National Model Design Code, these sessions give local authorities and developers a better sense of how to make wellbeing a critical objective in their work.

We are holding the first event for Local Authorities 20th May 3-4:30pm. This is a pilot session provided free of charge, but places are limited. If you would like to attend please email us today.

YourQOL: resident-led evaluation

Crucial to making wellbeing central to the way we create and care for our homes and communities is a more active and long-lasting dialogue with communities and residents throughout the development process.

An important missing element is feedback from residents about how good (or otherwise) their homes and neighbourhoods are. For example:

  • Do you feel safe in your neighbourhood?
  • Do you have an opportunity to connect with nature?
  • Is it safe for children to play outside?

The Foundation is working with RealWorth and Commonplace to create a post-occupancy service, YourQOL.

The first site to be assessed is Grosvenor Group’s Barton Park in Oxfordshire, but we are looking for other partners to be involved.

This project will form a key element in wider research into how we can streamline the entire community consultation process.

If you are interested in being involved in this project then please contact us.

The People’s Housing Audit

We want to encourage more people to think about and review their quality of life using a set range of questions based on the framework. The People’s Housing Audit for the top housebuilders in the UK will act as an incentive to deliver better social, environmental and economic outcomes for new communities, effectively acting as a housing ‘census’ to benchmark how well their developments perform over the long term.

We envisage the audit to include the following:

  • Selected developments from each of the top 10 housebuilders in the UK which will cover a range of regions, tenures and housing types;
  • Residents living in these developments will be asked questions about their homes and communities based on the six pillars of the Quality of Life Framework;
  • We will analyse responses against the framework which will create a score for each Quality of Life pillar and an overall aggregate score for the housebuilder;
  • We will work with delivery partners to manage the promotion of the survey and the collection and analysis of the responses; 
  • We will also recruit a media partner to publish the survey results and to raise awareness amongst the wider general public.

Research

Research: COVID highlights digital divide between UK renters and home owners 

· New study from Quality of Life Foundation and CityFibre shows extent to which access to online connectivity impacts quality of life. 

· A total of 80% of people now say that day-to-day life would be impossible or significantly worse without online connectivity.

· Figures suggest a potential digital divide may be emerging as renters were nearly twice as likely to describe their connection as only average or unreliable compared to those who own their own home.

· Usage overall soared during the pandemic — half of us are now spending at least four hours using the internet each day, with over a quarter spending over six hours online.

Research: Quality of life at home

This national report, written in collaboration with Social Life and Kaizen Partnership, explores how the built environment impacts on quality of life, and how the built environment can be improved to enhance quality of life in homes and in local neighbourhoods. The research engaged people living in a range of settings, including areas going through regeneration, new housing developments and established areas.

Using face-to-face street interviews, the first part of the research in early March 2020 explored how people perceive the built environment’s impact on their quality of life. Two weeks into the fieldwork, the COVID-19 crisis brought the research to a halt. A new research approach was devised to continue to capture the impact of the built environment on quality of life in this extraordinary time.

In the second phase of the research, the focus shifted towards examining the role played by the home environment as well as the local area in supporting or undermining quality of life during this difficult period. These interviews were carried out in May and early June 2020. At the start of this period the population of the UK was under tight restrictions and non-essential retail and facilities were closed, as the month progressed there were some slight relaxation of lockdown restrictions in the different UK nations.

Read the full report here

Research: CCQOL – A new model for community consultation

Community Consultation for Quality of Life (CCQoL) is a UK-wide project to find out what communities value and need in their local area. It aims to start a conversation with local people that can continue over time and take place both online and face-to-face.

The project builds on the University of Reading’s Mapping Eco Social Assets project. Key to its success will be the creation of maps of the local area that the local population will help to create, both in community spaces and online. The project will reference the Quality of Life Framework as a way of helping the local population to identify all those aspects of their area that are important to their health and wellbeing. Information gathered will help to define social value, a term used to describe what happens when buildings, places and infrastructure support environmental, economic and social wellbeing, and in doing so improve people’s quality of life.

It is hoped that the CCQOL project will facilitate greater inclusion across the community and provide a more accurate picture than what can often be a  perfunctory and episodic consultation process currently. We want to join up consultation activity around Local Development Planning; Planning Consultations; and the post-occupancy evaluation of places. The latter almost never happens but is urgently needed to understand what works (and what doesn’t), when planning and designing new communities.

To develop the CCQoL project, we are collaborating with a UK-wide consortium of universities led by the University of Reading; Commonplace, the leading online community engagement platform for places; and Urban Symbiotics, an architectural practice that puts personal experience at the centre of their work.

CCQOL has backing from government departments across the UK (including MHCLG) as well as a range of industry organisations, and is being funded by UKRI / Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Research: Young and renters lose out in lockdown

We conducted a poll during the Coronavirus lockdown to find out how different groups had been affected. We discovered that young people; people living in towns and cities; and renters were most dissatisfied with their living conditions at this time…

Read more about it here.

Research: Literature Review

With the help of Publica, we reviewed studies, reports and policies that address the link between quality of life and the built environment. This review identifies the need for systemic change in both the public and private sectors. This includes changes in the way that government regulates the housing sector. It also identifies key themes relating to quality of life and the homes and communities in which we live. 

Read the full report here

Policy: Our response to the Planning White Paper

While we believe the Planning White Paper offers complex and thoughtful solutions to longstanding and major problems, we have identified areas where greater detail or further thought are needed.

Overall, we would urge the Government to clarify just how local communities and local authorities are to be involved and supported through this process so we can change the UK housing model from one of short-term gain to long-term social, economic and environmental success.

Read more about it here.