The design of our neighbourhoods can play an important role in tackling loneliness and helping people connect.

Tackling Loneliness through the built environment sets out why the built environment matters for loneliness, what features make a difference to our experience and how this can be achieved.   

The report arises out of two seminars we held during the summer of 2022 which brought together designers, policymakers, planners, architects. 

  • Our first seminar looked at what we knew already about how the built environment and loneliness. 
  • Our second seminar identified what this meant for practitioners and how we could ensure that our built environment could help tackle loneliness in practice. 

We found that the way we plan and design our built environment needs to encourage different kinds of interaction – we need bumping spaces like benches where we might see neighbours or acquaintances – so called ‘weak ties’.  Alongside this we also need places for the creation of ‘strong ties’ where we develop and maintain real friendships, for example at community groups and activities. A ‘less lonely’ neighbourhood needs to have the right collection of buildings and friendly shared places which are liked by residents and are, therefore, comfortable to use and will foster encounters with others. 

You can  also download our full report and press release:

Download the report

Read the press release

Robin Hewings, Programme Director for the Campaign to End Loneliness said

“Loneliness is one of the biggest issues we face as a society, and has a massive impact on our overall health and mental wellbeing.  New figures show that the number of people who are chronically lonely remains high after the pandemic. So we need to do everything we can, and that includes making our neighbourhoods less lonely. 

Framework

The report identifies a framework demonstrating how the built environment can tackle loneliness.

Our recommendations for tackling loneliness through the built environment

The report also makes a series of recommendations on how to make our neighbourhoods less lonely.  

Protect and create less lonely places

Identify, protect and create attractive, friendly built environments, green spaces with safe, navigable walking routes to enable access to them. These  should be designed to support the development of both weak and strong ties for people of different genders, ages, with physical and mental health problems, who are members of ethnic and sexual minority groups, and of varying socio-economic status.

Involve local people and make this an expected part of built environment practice and policy makers

Facilitate local people, including lonely people and people at risk of loneliness, to inform and contribute to the process of change and encourage an expectation that the protection and creation of less lonely built environments is prioritised among the public. And, via training, regulation and examples of good practice, that the issue becomes a standard part of thinking and practice for powerful stakeholders: built environment policy-makers and professionals.

Connect this work to other local improvements which address loneliness:

Connect work to create a less lonely built environment in an area to improvements in housing, transport, employment, education, health, culture and leisure which can also impact on loneliness.

Strengthen the evidence:

Undertake new research, as recommended by the DCMS Tackling Loneliness Review of Evidence [link] , to strengthen understanding of the extent and mechanisms of connection between specific types of place or aspects of place-based interventions and reductions in loneliness, so informing improved design of the built environment.

More information and downloads

Download the report

Read the press release

Launch event

You can watch the recording from our launch event on World Cities Day – 31 October 2022 which included presentations/ talks  from:

Dr Helen MacIntyre, Head of Evidence at the Campaign to End Loneliness

Nicola Bacon, Founder of Social Life

Robin Hewings, Programme Director at the Campaign to End Loneliness