A poll conducted by Quality of Life Foundation and Portland Communications highlights how young people, people who live in towns and cities and renters are being affected by their living conditions more than other groups during lockdown.

Young people are more dissatisfied with the size, outdoor space and broadband connectivity of their homes than their elder counterparts.

Those in towns and cities are much less satisfied with their homes compared to those living in the suburbs or countryside. People in rural areas reported that better access to nature and a greater feeling of support from their neighbours were helping wellbeing during this time of social distancing.

Renters also reported being less satisfied with their homes than those who own their property.

The findings, from the Quality of Life Foundation and Portland, highlight the growing impact the housing crisis is having on young people in particular, who are more likely to be living in urban rented accommodation.

The online poll asked a sample of the general public how satisfied they are with different aspects of their homes and communities, and to what extent this has been affected by the coronavirus lockdown. The 1,000 respondents come from cities, towns and villages across the UK, and live in a mix of housing types including flats, terraces, semi-detached and detached homes.

The poll was carried out by the Quality of Life Foundation, a new independent not-for-profit organisation focused on raising people’s quality of life by making wellbeing central to how our homes and communities are created and cared for.

On average, 84% of people aged 55 or over reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their homes, compared to just 56% of young people between 18–24 years old. This fell to just 48% for 18–24 year olds living in towns compared with 65% living in rural areas.

Dissatisfaction amongst city and town dwellers was at 29% compared to those in the suburbs or rural areas, which were at 10% and 12% respectively.

23% of renters are dissatisfied with their living conditions compared to only 10% of those who own their homes.

The poll forms part of the organisation’s new national research programme to discover what quality of life means to the general public.

As people are being forced to spend more time at home and in their local communities in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Quality of Life Foundation hopes that its research will encourage people to consider how their environments affect their physical and mental wellbeing — and how they can be designed and built better to improve their quality of life.

Professor Sadie Morgan, Founder of the Quality of Life Foundation, said:

“The findings of this poll highlight worrying generational and geographical disparities in quality of life during this period of lockdown, with young people living in cities struggling more as a result of their housing situation than any other group in society.

The built environment is fundamental to peoples’ quality of life. Only now, as we are all forced to spend more time in our homes and immediate neighbourhoods, are we beginning to appreciate the impact they can have on our physical and mental wellbeing.

“This poll represents the first of a number of empirical studies that the Quality of Life Foundation will undertake during and after this period of lockdown. The research will be pivotal in gaining an understanding of how people feel about the places in which they live, so that in future, we can create thriving, healthy and sustainable places that have a positive impact on peoples’ wellbeing and the environment.”

The Quality of Life Foundation’s research programme involves a combined series of reports that will together help to understand how people think about places and communities; learn what quality of life means to homeowners and tenants; and how they think it might be enhanced through improvements to the the way their homes and communities are created and cared for.

The research comprises three parts:

1. On-the-ground research led by consultants Social Life and Kaizen Partnership, in 12 neighbourhoods across the UK, in Brentford, Bridgend, North Birmingham, Cambridge, Corby, Darlington, Dorchester, Edinburgh, Hackney, North Manchester, Rotherham and South Belfast. The neighbourhoods studied range from urban to rural, small to large, new build and more established neighbourhoods and target both residents and those visiting the area to work, shop or socialise. Although this research is underway, it has now been paused temporarily, due to the introduction of social distancing measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

2. A series of in-depth interviews with photographs, also led by Social Life and Kaizen Partnership, exploring how people’s homes and communities improve or diminish their quality of life during this difficult period of time.

3. An online survey created with Resi, the online residential architects, to provide quantitative data that will examine how the resilience of a place affects the people who live there during lockdown.

Alongside the survey, a literature review by Publica, commissioned by the Quality of Life Foundation, has sought to identify key themes from the intersection of quality of life and the built environment (you can download a copy of the report here).

The findings from the research will inform the Quality of Life Foundation’s work in establishing a clear set of quality of life principles, which will then be championed by the Foundation, with the aim of making clear both the responsibilities and benefits of promoting quality of life within the built environment.

Ultimately, the Foundation aims to establish a framework and set of mechanisms that drives change across the development industry to ensure that homes and places are acquired, planned, constructed and managed to actively provide a better quality of life for everyone.

Nicola Bacon from Social Life said: “Our research, combining in-depth interviews and photographs, will help us capture rich information about how people experience their homes and their local areas during the lockdown. Inequalities of access to space, gardens and parks will have a sharp impact on quality of life. We want to find out how our very different experiences of the built environment and home at this time are affecting our mental wellbeing and how we make connections with other people.”

The Quality of Life Foundation, which has benefited from seed-funding from developer Berkeley Group, is calling for the built environment industry to demonstrate its commitment to improving people’s quality of life.

You can out more about the Quality of Life Foundation’s work and sign up to their newsletter here.