In a meeting with some local authority members about housing in later life, the councillor with responsibility for regeneration made the comment, “We’re planning some redevelopment work in a neighbourhood centre. Can you give us any suggestions on how we could make that more Age Friendly?” From this throw away question, Care and Repair England’s leaflet on Street Design for Age Friendly Neighbourhoods was written.
Looking at the WHO Age Friendly cities gave us some starting points and in the UK, the work of Newcastle Elders doing neighbourhood ‘Age Friendly Audits’ was also a help. On further exploration, a number of government and academic bodies have also done work on Lifetime Neighbourhoods and the built environment but when you take a walk around your own neighbourhood, you can’t always see the evidence of that work. So that was the starting point for this publication. Taking a look at my own street, seeing where older people were, then looking at why they might go to some places rather than others, helped to focus my research and has all gone towards informing this publication.
Living and working in Greater Manchester, gave me the additional opportunity to consult with Age Friendly Manchester Design Group. Taking initial drafts to them, with their backgrounds in community, planning and access helped bring the issues to life and keep the leaflet on track.
Our hope is that it is useful in highlighting those elements of our streets which enable and encourage older people and to notice those things which hinder their use, engagement with and enjoyment of their neighbourhoods. (This blog first appeared on the Age Action Alliance) [Sept 2016]