Community relations in many neighbourhoods have changed drastically over the decades – a change which has been magnified lately by the headlines criticising David Cameron’s Big Society scheme. Do you think that you and your neighbours could pull together to make a difference in your community? How do you find the right neighbourhood for you?
David Cameron is adamant that despite the huge cuts to public service budgets, that community services can be saved if we all pitch in and help with community services to make a difference in the areas we live in.
The BBC quoted the Prime Minister saying, “We do need a social recovery to mend the broken society and to me, that's what the Big Society is all about."
Addressing criticism that the policy was too vague, he said it was not just about rolling out one single policy: "What this is all about is giving people more power and control to improve their lives and communities."
The worrying thing is that “Big Society” assumes the existence of traditional neighbourhood values of shared interests and like-minded people creating an atmosphere where a community cares enough about its neighbours to pitch in and help. However, changing employment patterns have led to greater numbers of people living away from where they grew up, in areas where they do not necessarily have ‘"roots". It is the lack of roots which may be the undoing of the PM’s plans.
The results of several different surveys reveal a rather troublesome glitch in the Big Society plan – many of us don’t know our neighbours and some of us have major issues with them.
A survey undertaken by Legal & General in 2010 revealed that 70% of residents would not recognise their neighbours if they passed them in the street. In fact, the majority of the 3000 polled (61%) don't socialise with street residents, even on an occasional basis, and 50% said they didn't enjoy spending time with their neighbours.
However, the results garnered by the Legal & General survey contrast with a poll by property website Zoopla six months before which revealed that less than 10% of people would fail to recognise a neighbour.
Even Government research does point to the fly in the ointment with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reporting more than six million noise complaints are made to Environmental Health Departments every year with residential complaints accounting for nearly two thirds of these.
Even more upsetting than noisy neighbours, research by Legal & General found more than a quarter of people do not trust their neighbours.
Troublesome neighbourhoods can even impact on your property's value. Halifax Home Insurance state that a bad neighbourhood can knock up to £30,000 off the value of your property, with 360,000 people surveyed admitting that they had moved directly because of a neighbour or neighbourhood between 2008 and 2009. As they say, location, location, location.
So are modern neighbourhoods doomed to leave us living alone in a crowd? The secret is to spend some time researching an area to find out if it will suit you and your family before committing to a property.
Here are some tips for finding the right neighbourhood:
Use the internet to search out information about the neighbourhood in question, here are some helpful links and sites.
www.thenorthfields.co.uk - If you are looking to buy in Ealing, check out Northfields Area Guides with profiles on specific neighbourhoods in the London Borough of Ealing, including central Ealing, Pitshanger, Northfields, Hanwell, and Acton.
www.thebestof.co.uk/local/ealing/local-guide - research local businesses, schools, transport and leisure activities
www.upmystreet.com – find info on crime rates, school ratings, typical incomes of residents and more
Spend time in the area, go shopping, go to the park, sit in a café and talk to locals about where they live.
If you are able, you could also choose to rent a property in the area before committing to buying which would give you the insider knowledge without the long term commitment. If you are looking to rent in Ealing click here.
Use Your Estate Agent
Ask your estate agent about the most popular schools or the local services. Northfields Estates employs staff locally who know the area and are able to speak about it knowledgeably. Speak to one of our team members to get the insider knowledge you are looking for on 0208 840 6666.
At the end of the day, what makes a good neighbour or neighbourhood is so subjective. A party-loving neighbour at the heart of Ealing Broadway may not be the ideal for a couple with a newborn baby, but another buyer will welcome the opportunity to socialise in the evenings. The couple with the newborn, might be more happy in the family friendly, village atmosphere of Pitshanger. It really depends on what you personally are looking for and what kind of lifestyle you like to lead. At Northfields we will be able to point you toward the property and the neighbourhood that fits you best. Call us on 0208 840 6666 to take advantage of our local knowledge. Maybe being neighbourly isn’t a thing of the past after all.