Having found out about the physical characteristics of your town, it’s now time to think about how your community functions within its environment- your community’s wellbeing. Wellbeing simply means the state of being comfortable, happy and healthy. To achieve this state, however, depends on a series of needs being met within the community- educational, cultural, housing, health, employment, leisure and social needs.
In this section you will look at a range of factors which, when taken in combination, can be seen as measures of community wellbeing. At the end of this stage, consider organising a stakeholder event to gather wider views on the findings of your wellbeing assessment.
Welsh Government is committed to improving the social, economic, cultural and environmental wellbeing of Wales. Through the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (2015) public bodies are being encouraged to think more long term and consider the future by working better with communities and local people. The act means that public bodies must consider what they do in a sustainable way. By considering local people and their needs and requirements your plan can support and enhance the wellbeing of your area and feed into wider wellbeing strategies developed by your local authority.
Find out more here.
People and demographics
The starting point for finding out about your community wellbeing is to find out about the people who live in your community and make it unique. You can find out about your community from local census data, which will give you information about a wide range of topics such as the age of residents, household type and size, ethnic group, economic activity and general health.
Alongside information you can gather from analysing data, you can also ask people how they feel about their community, and what they think its strengths and weaknesses are. This will give you a view from the people who live there to support evidence from data.
You should try to identify parts of the community that you need to get input from to go into your place plan, but who may be difficult to contact or to get to attend your events. These groups may include children, young adults, disabled groups, ethnic minorities and the elderly.
Questions to ask:
- How would you describe the feel of the community in your area? Ask people what they think makes up their community.
- What is the demographic of the area? Young families? Predominately retired?
- Are there hard to reach groups within the community?
- How are younger and older people served within the community?
- How economically active is the area? Are there local opportunities to access jobs? Do people travel to work or work locally? How far do they travel? What sectors do people work in?
Having found out about the people and demographics of your area, now look in more detail at housing provision. To be successful, communities need to provide a range of housing opportunities for a wide range of people at a level they can afford. This may include rental properties, social or affordable homes, houses for first time buyers, apartments, accessible homes and retirement homes. In some places, in-migration or a shortage of housing can increase house prices, preventing young people from getting on the housing ladder; in other places the lack of employment and opportunities can lead to out-migration and empty homes.
Exploring the housing market will give you a snapshot of the affordability and types of homes available. Local estate agents or online property search engines will be able to tell you about local market trends. Census data can be used to explore accommodation types and dwelling sizes. Organising a housing need survey or event can help to gather the opinion of local people.
Identifying different stages of housing growth or contraction can help understand the changing fortunes of your area- both historically and in the present day. Mark areas of historic growth, future expansion, empty homes and the different ages of houses on a map. Use the information provided by your NPA officer to find out where sites have been identified for future housing.
Questions to ask:
- What is the housing market like in your area?
- Are there enough homes to meet demand? Are there areas of expansion or areas of empty homes?
- What is the age of different areas of housing? Are houses expensive to heat?
- What types of tenure are found in your area? Are houses owner-occupied, rented, belong to social landlords or council owned?
- Do young people struggle to get on to the property ladder?
Facilities, activities & opportunities
Community facilities enhance the lives of inhabitants and support community cohesion, contributing to the quality of life in your community. Good facilities can instil a sense of community pride, increase equality and fairness and can help prevent crime and antisocial behaviour. Libraries, museums, community centres and performance spaces open doors to enjoyment, culture and ideas. Medical facilities ensure and safeguard health, while public transport options increase mobility and allow access to facilities in other areas. Schools and colleges provide education opportunities for children and adults alike, and often provide facilities for community use outside of school hours.
Finding out about the facilities in your community can be done in several ways. A walk around your area will allow you to locate facilities, while talking to local people can reveal facilities, activities and opportunities that you do not know about. These can be located on a map, perhaps by using different colours for different types of facility. Creating a list of all the groups and activities available in your area and where they operate from will highlight the range of opportunities available. Remember to think about all age groups, genders and ethnicities in your survey; you could talk to local people, check local listings and use the internet to search for what happens in your area. You may also be able to find out what activities people have to journey outside your area to take part in.
Think about the level of education provided in your area. Where are local nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools and tertiary colleges? Do people have to travel outside your area for education, and if so how far? What opportunities are there for adult or further education? What opportunities are available to learn the Welsh language?
Questions to ask:
- What facilities are available within the community, e.g.: community centres, doctors, dentists, libraries, leisure centres? Who operates them? How secure is their functioning long –term? How easy are they to access? How big are these facilities? What condition are they in?
- What services and facilities are accessed from outside the area of the plan?
- What health services are available within the community? Are there any health promotion schemes in the community e.g. walking clubs, healthy eating education schemes or mindfulness groups?
- What transport options are available to the community?
- What learning opportunities are available within the community? Who are they open to?
- Are there schools within the area of the plan? How do local people access schools and colleges outside of the area? How are they performing?
- What cultural activities take place in the community? Is there one or more places where the community can come together?
- What leisure facilities, classes and clubs are available within the community? Are there any local groups that help perform this function?
- How important is the Welsh Language within the community? Is it in decline/increase? Are there opportunities to learn in the community?
- What, if anything, is needed to meet the needs of the community? How could this be provided?
Climate change and sustainability
The future success of your settlement will depend on how it can adapt to changes associated with climate change. Considering energy sources and their improvement, risks of flooding and the ability to cope with extreme weather events will help to make your area more resilient. You can consider risks that your area may face in the future and ways that you could address these risks within the scope of your plan. This may require further in-depth studies or a dedicated working group to identify significant issues for the community or a more detailed carbon footprint analysis.
Questions to ask:
- What is the main energy source in the community?
- What is the average carbon footprint of people living within the community?
- How resilient is the community to the likely and predicted effects of climate change?
- Are there any local energy improvement schemes?
- Are there any local groups with an interest in environmental sustainability?