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.
In our 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.”
The report identifies a framework demonstrating how the built environment can tackle loneliness.
The report 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, 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.