Property News > Why wellness in the city holds the key to the future of urban living

Why wellness in the city holds the key to the future of urban living

Reports of an exodus of residents from UK cities in search of a more rural lifestyle have not been exaggerated, with the last two years having seen counter-urbanisation occur on an unprecedented scale.

As a result, prices of urban properties have risen at a slower rate than those in rural areas for the first time in decades, and now urban planners are prioritising ‘wellness’ in city living in response – specifically green spaces and clean air – in a bid to replicate the countryside’s best features.

Whilst the buzzword ‘wellness’ made its way into the urban regeneration vernacular prior to the pandemic, it has taken on a greater significance since. Pre-March 2020, people would regularly and habitually spend time across a range of different communal spaces, be it at the office, the high street or other recreational facilities, but after almost two years of being bound to the home to a greater extent, demands relating to personal living space and its immediate surroundings have changed. 

It's been well documented that properties more conducive to home working are now more sought-after among house buyers and tenants alike, as are properties with gardens or terraces. As a result of this new trend, conventional models are beginning to look outdated, and so developers, homebuilders, architects and masterplanners are adapting quickly to the needs of their potential customers – and this involves a greater emphasis on wellness. 

We are moving into a period in which the quality of living spaces and gardens and the character of properties rank higher than simply living in close proximity to the workplace. Typical ‘grid’-like planning, which often results in small and densely packed gardens, will struggle to satisfy this demand. Design factors such as the placement of windows, greater celling height, and the amount of natural light are also playing an increased role as appeal factors.

As many city dwellers look to take advantage of the greater degree of freedom and flexibility that remote working has given them, demand for office space is likely to decline, which – in theory – will provide land to develop quality, affordable housing in inner city areas. However, planners must take wellness factors into consideration, including accessibility to better infrastructure, community parks and other leisure facilities.

By focusing more on wellness, our future cities will be low in emissions, relatively traffic free and rich in good quality infrastructure to facilitate active transport – specifically designated walking and cycling routes – as well as access to green open spaces.

An increasingly popular concept, and one which supports the combination of wellbeing and city living to create a cohesive community, is the ’15-minute neighbourhood’. It’s essentially a model in which access to all key recreational and leisure facilities are accessible within 15 minutes. This has the potential to ensure that city life has a future and may put the brakes on the exodus of those looking to escape the hustle and bustle.

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