Making a sustainable community: life in Derwenthorpe, York, 2012–2018

Deborah Quilgars, Alison Dyke, Alison Wallace and Sarah West

Derwenthorpe is being developed by the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust (JRHT) as an urban extension of more than 500 homes on the outskirts of York, England.

This research finds that mainstream housing developers can successfully deliver sustainable homes and communities at scale that produce high-quality living environments. However, different levels of buy-in from residents mean that environmental and social measures need to be built into the model as far as possible from the outset.

It recommends that:

  • Greater emphasis on the design, space standards and aesthetics of new developments should be incorporated into Government-level directives.
  • Housing providers must work with resident groups to set up inclusive governance structures to promote the long-term social sustainability of communities.
  • Architects and developers need to ‘build in’ environmental interventions into new homes, rather than choose technology that requires resident knowledge and operation. They also should consider how they can influence residents’ overall carbon footprints.

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