Do mixed communities improve community cohesion?

Course Code: SA 469 Housing Dissertation Candidate Number: 61552 Degree/Diploma Programme: MSc in Housing and Regeneration (Social Policy)

On 3rd April 2008, in an address to the Fabian Society, Hazel Blears, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, proclaimed that “no neighbourhood should be dominated by one group in ways which make members of other groups feel alienated, insecure or unsafe”. In case there was any ambiguity in what she was saying, she made clear that she was demanding that “communities must be mixed communities” otherwise there would be a “kind of social apartheid”. It was to “ensure that community cohesion is maintained” that she that argued that “no one faith or ethnic group can totally dominate a locality to the exclusion of all others” (Blears, 2008). The essence of her position was that mixed communities promote community cohesion. This essay will examine whether or not this proposition is true and what policy implications follow from this. I will argue that mixed communities do not, in and of themselves, promote community cohesion. There is too much variation between the types of communities which can be called “mixed” to maintain this stance. Certain types of mixed communities can form part of efforts to promote community cohesion, just as others can actually create mistrust and division. The mixed communities which foster better community cohesion are those which create the conditions in which interactions, both formal and informal, between people of different backgrounds can readily take place in inclusive communal spaces. Those which hinder community cohesion create barriers to this type of interaction. Even so, mixed communities and other policies on the neighbourhood scale must be nested within complimentary national policies to promote greater community cohesion. Specifically greater community cohesion can only be achieved within broader efforts to create greater equality of outcome and opportunity for all. The limited goal of creating mixed communities which foster community cohesion is one which is in conflict with other interests and goals such as the need of private developers to sell units for maximum returns and the isolating preferences which many now exhibit. In order to come to these conclusions I undertook a case study of a recently built mixed tenure housing development. The aim of the study was to determine if the experience of living in this development had created better community cohesion. Initially a questionnaire was sent to all residents asking what effect, if any, living in the new developments had had on a number of indicators related to community cohesion. The second stage was a series of interviews with a representative sample of respondents making sure that each tenure type was represented. In these interviews I further explored the issues previously raised in the questionnaire and the interviewees’ views on how the development could have been changed in order to create better community cohesion. This method allowed me to present more than just raw data. It allowed me to create and test causal explanations underpinning the data and to identify barriers to community cohesion and tentative best practice examples.

Literature review
Whilst there exists a voluminous literature on both mixed communities and community cohesion respectively, writing on the links between the two is still in its infancy. This is partly a result of the relatively recent emergence of community cohesion as a concept in the lexicon of policy makers. The joint action plan on Community Cohesion between the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Office recognised this fact, stating “that community cohesion - and particularly its relationship to housing- is a developing area” (ODPM, 2005). Since then there has been some change but, as recently as 2007, the Academy for Sustainable Communities could still write that “there is limited practical guidance about the way in which areas can be effectively planned to be attractive to all communities and to ensure that separation and segregation along ethnic lines is minimised” (Academy for Sustainable Communities, p.27). Whilst there is little literature on the links between the two concepts there is a striking symmetry between the two discourses in their focus on the importance of contact between different types of people. In both fields there are those who argue that homogenous communities, defined in either cultural or income terms, have a negative impact on their inhabitants. They go on to argue that the appropriate response from government should be to create more diverse communities, again either in income or cultural terms. The effect of this diversity, they argue, will reverse the negative impacts caused by the previously homogenous communities. This reversal will be achieved through the generation of greater social capital, specifically bridging capital. There is not a single one of these assertions which has not gone unchallenged. Academics have argued that the negative impacts of homogenous communities are unproven or exaggerated. They have also argued that creating more diverse communities will not solve the highlighted problems as more heterogeneous communities do not create more bridging capital. Finally, they argue that real solutions can only be found in broader societal, rather than local, policies. This literature review will acquaint the reader with these debates. After defining our terms, the first section will focus on the supposed negative effects of homogenous communities as well as criticisms of these positions. Whilst not wanting to argue that neighbourhoods are the major or primary cause of negative life outcomes, such as unemployment or low income, I will conclude that they can have a significant effect, for example through creating stigma. The second section will focus on the appropriate government response to these problems. Again, I will maintain that the optimal response to problems such as a lack of a sense of belonging will include society wide reforms such as action to promote equal opportunities. However, there remains a role for more localised action at the neighbourhood level, such as mixed communities initiatives. Finally, a series of specific and, as yet, untested hypothesis around the ability of mixed communities to promote community cohesion, will be elucidated from the literature. These hypotheses will then be put to the test in the case study.

A “mixed community” commonly refers to a community with a mixture of tenures, primarily a mixture of owner-occupiers and social renters. Sometimes the idea of a mixture of household sizes is also included in the definition (ODPM, 2006, p.9). Tenure’s prominence in this respect is for pragmatic reasons relating to planning policy (Tunstall, 2006, p.7) and the “residualisation” of social housing (Berube, 2005, p.14). As such it is a “poor proxy” for the social processes which actually deserve our attention (Andersson, p.655). Indeed it would be possible to achieve a community with a mixture of household incomes by altering local lettings policies (Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, p.94) as much as by altering tenure structure. Within the UK the term is usually applied to new developments or to deprived areas undergoing regeneration (Kearns and Mason, 2007, p.664). There is no consensus on the ideal tenure mix (Holmes, p.3) or on the mix of tenures an area would have to possess to be classified as “mixed”. The term “community cohesion” rose to prominence following the disturbances in northern towns in 2001 (Worley, p.483). Since then a series of documents from, amongst others, Ted Cantle’s Independent Review Team and John Denham’s Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Public Order and Community Cohesion, have attempted to define what is meant by community cohesion. Government’s established position is that cohesive communities are differentiated from others by four factors. Firstly, that there is a common vision and sense of belonging, secondly, that diversity is valued, thirdly, that people from different backgrounds have similar opportunities and finally that people from different backgrounds have strong and positive relationships (Academy for sustainable communities, p.11). More simply, the Home Office in 2003 made clear that the headline indicator for measuring whether or not a given community was cohesive is "the proportion of people who feel that their local area is a place where people from different backgrounds can get on well together” (Home Office, 2003, p.6).

Problems with homogenous communities
Proponents of mixed communities argue that a high concentration of deprived households in a neighbourhood have independent, negative effects on residents; these are referred to as “neighbourhood effects”. The essential claim is that additional problems and barriers are created for residents over and above those they might have faced as a result of personal or family characteristics (Feinstein L. et. al., p.30). This is a highly contentious claim and one over which there is an active and as yet inconclusive debate (Tunstall, 2006, p.11). In debating these points there are several methodological difficulties. It is not enough to prove that "there are area or neighbourhood differences” as this “is not the same as showing that there are neighbourhood effects" (Buck, 2001, p.2252). If we are to make definitive statements on the causal relationship between neighbourhood and life outcomes we must control for many factors including the sorting mechanisms of the housing market (Bolster, pp.1-2). Several academics and many policy makers maintain that neighbourhood effects have a demonstrable impact (Atkinson and Kintrea 2001). They maintain that areas with high concentrations of deprived households suffer from more crime (Berube, p.22); area stigmatisation (Atkinson and Kintrea, 2001, p.2290); strained public services (Lupton 2004), worse health, especially mental health (Joshi et al 2000); lower aspirations (ODPM, 2005, p.53) and worse employment prospects (Berube, 2005, p.20). It should be noted that it is perfectly possible to maintain a belief in the impact of neighbourhood effects whilst believing that they are

"not as significant as individuals' personal circumstances and characteristics" (Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, p.41). A variety of different and sometimes competing causal explanations have been put forward to explain these neighbourhood effects. Public services maybe oversubscribed in deprived areas because there are more people who use them, whereas people may have worse employment prospects because of area stigma (Lupton, 2003, p.7). In total Buck lists nine different types of explanation for neighbourhood effect (Buck, 2001). Underlying some, though not all, of these explanations, is the argument that deprived areas have weaker social networks than other areas (Atkinson and Kintrea, 2002, p.147). This proposition draws on the distinction, prominently made by Harvard Professor Robert Putnam, that social capital comprises at least three components; bonding, bridging and linking. Bonding social capital, which joins people who are similar to each other in social networks, may not be a problem in deprived areas. However, linking social capital, which connects people with those in positions of power, and bridging social capital, which connects people to others who are unlike them in some respect, may be more of a problem. The effect of the lower level of bridging social capital is that people in deprived areas can develop more inward looking attitudes and therefore miss out on new opportunities, for example in the job market. The effect of lower linking social capital is to have public services which people are unable to influence and to generate feelings of disempowerment (Putnam, 2000). Many dispute these claims, arguing that neighbourhood has an insignificant impact on people’s lives, especially when compared with the importance of family or personal characteristics (Oreopolous, 2003). Some have gone so far as to maintain that poorer households may even be better off living in areas with higher concentrations of deprivation (Cheshire, p.x). In general the evidence from Europe on the magnitude of neighbourhood effects is more equivocal than that from the United States, where much of the literature on neighbourhood effects comes from (Ostendorf et al., p.151 and Kearns and Mason, p.669). The European welfare states, it would seem, have the effect of diminishing neighbourhood effects. Few would deny that some factors, which could be called neighbourhood effects, are demonstrable. The popularity of housing or demand for public services, for example, will be largely explained by characteristics of the neighbourhood. There is a tendency amongst some theorists who believe in neighbourhood effects to argue their case perhaps too strongly. Certainly, in fields such as educational achievement, employment and health, the predominant causes are personal and family characteristics. However, neighbourhood effects can have a real and tangible impact on people and a lack of bridging and linking social capital in an area can be detrimental to its residents.

Proponents of community cohesion decry the impact of segregation along racial or cultural grounds much as proponents of mixed communities bemoan the baleful influence of areas with a high concentration of low income households. The influential Cantle report argued “that many communities operate on the basis of a series of parallel lives. These lives often do not seem to touch at any point, let alone overlap and promote any meaningful interchanges” (Cantle, p.9).

Whilst the situation that Cantle found was seen as dire the fear was that this ethnic segregation would persist and grow if left unchecked (Commission on Integration & Cohesion, 2007c, p.4). “Parallel lives” lead in this way are seen as bad in and of themselves but they have other negative consequences, specifically on the indicators of community cohesion. As well as undermining solidarity, shared values and strong and positive relationships between people from different backgrounds, ethnic segregation is seen as a cause of a weaker sense of political citizenship (Blunkett, p.2); a lack of generalized trust (Letki, 2008, p.1 and Glaeser et al. 2000) and segregation in schools (Burgess S., Wilson D., Lupton R, (2005) p.1027). More seriously still, some prominent commentators fear that segregation could lead to the creation of ghettos (Phillips, 2005) and even the undermining of the welfare state (Goodhart, 2004). The primary cause of these regrettable outcomes is the lack of interaction between people of different backgrounds. The influential theorist Allport developed what is known as the “Contact Hypothesis” in his 1954 work The Nature of Prejudice. He argued that meaningful contact between majority group and minority group members will lead to the former developing more favourable views of the later, depending on the quantity and the quality of these interactions. These ideas continue to have purchase on the popular imagination and 65% of people think that there is a need for people from different religious and ethnic groups in their local area to mix more (CLG, 2007a, p.15). However, there are several barriers to meaningful interaction between people from different backgrounds. Research suggests that increased racial diversity lessens individuals' propensity to interact with fellow neighbours (Letki, p.9). On top of the fact that, in general, individuals seem to prefer and seek out people with whom they share salient characteristics (the so-called “similarity-attraction hypothesis”) and have difficulties interacting with people who come from greatly different cultures to themselves (the so-called “culture-distance hypothesis”) Again there are formidable methodological problems to surmount when simply determining the degree of segregation that exists in the UK, let alone its effects. The categories which are employed are surprisingly fluid. Analysis can quickly and imperceptibly move between categories based on religion to country of birth to race to ethnic group. Often the categories used are taken from the national census, but these have changed in almost every census. There is usually no distinction made in discussions on segregation between, on the one hand, the location of new migrants, and the movement of settled non-white populations on the other (Simpson, 2004). Many commentators have maintained that the problems which are ascribed to segregation are in fact caused by other factors. The discriminatory use of police powers on certain Asian communities (Burnett, p.10) and the competition created by scarce resources and services (McGhee, 2005) have been cited as alternate explanations. Most convincingly others have argued that lack of trust is linked to disorder which in turn is linked to deprivation (Letki, pp. 5-23). They cite this, and the fact that BME groups are disproportionately represented in deprived areas, as the reason for the lack of generalised trust and solidarity in racially diverse areas. In addition, some have argued that those who use the language of community cohesion are engaged in a linguistic sleight of hand to justify racist policies. Whilst using the de-racialised

language of communities, it is alleged that they draw upon earlier and largely abandoned ideas of assimilation by employing notions of integration (Worley, p.485). In doing so they freely use the “ambiguous idea of "community" and close cousin of the fashionable notion of ‘social capital’" (Worley, p.485). Some politicians may use such terms for less than honourable ends and there might be more than one explanation for the problems in community cohesion experienced by some neighbourhoods. However, it remains clear that there is general agreement that there should be an increase in the quantity and the quality of interactions between people of different backgrounds in the UK. There is less agreement on how pressing an issue this is and how much government attention it should receive as an objective, especially when it is framed in competition with policies to guarantee equal opportunities.

Government response
The creation of mixed communities has been a longstanding goal of government. Famously in 1949 Aneurin Bevan said that “modern housing estates” should “introduce what was always the lovely feature of English and Welsh villages, where the doctor, the grocer, the butcher and the farm labourer all lived in the same street... the living tapestry of a mixed community” (Berube, 2005, pp.2-3). Support is not limited to the UK, Blasius notes that Governments in France, the Netherlands, Sweden and others have pursued policies to create mixed communities (Blasius, p.627) as have the American government with the high profile HOPE VI program. Mixed communities are promoted by a variety of mechanisms. These can be split into those which dilute the concentration of deprived households by adding new higher income households; those which create new, mixed communities and those which move deprived households to areas which have a high concentration of wealthy households (Kearns and Mason, pp.664-5). Within the UK the first two types have been preferred over the third which has found more favour in America. The most prominent government levers for creating mixed communities have been the right to buy (ODPM, 2005a, p. 9), the use of the planning system to ensure provision of affordable housing, notably through section 106 deals (ODPM, 2006, p.1) and the Mixed Communities Initiative (Weaver, 2006). Mixed communities are promoted partly as an effort to negate neighbourhood effects. The most clear statement on these lines was made by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in 2005 that “mixed communities can help tackle deprivation by reducing the additional disadvantages that affect poorer people when they are concentrated in poor neighbourhoods.” (ODPM, 2005a, p. 52). Atkinson and Kintrea maintain that mixed communities, have a range of beneficial effects from improved services (both public and private) impacts, to improved behaviour, to overcoming stigma. In addition to these improvements, they maintain that mixed communities bring about community-level effects. Specifically, they argue that mixed communities increase social interactions and create an enhanced sense of community (Martin and Watkinson, 2003, p.2). Using the jargon of social capital we would say that they increase bridging and linking social capital. Mixed communities achieve this by promoting both informal and formal interaction between people living in different tenures (Letki, 2008 makes this distinction). Formal or organizational interactions are those which take place in associations and were focus of much early work on social capital. Informal interactions, which take place in social or individual

settings, are increasingly being recognised as an important way for social capital to replicate itself. The ability of mixed communities to increase bridging and linking social capital is particularly important for the purposes of this essay. As Tunstall says, the assumption is that “residents not only observe each other, but interact with each other, allowing patterns of behaviour and information about job opportunities to rub off” (Tunstall, 2006 p.15). It is this aspect of mixed communities which make them a potential candidate as a policy to promote community cohesion. Some have questioned the ability of mixed communities to increase social capital in this way. Whilst there is some evidence for a role model effect whereby more successful neighbours act as an inspiration (Hislock, 2001 and Wilson, 1997), they point to the evidence that there is only limited interaction between owners and tenants in mixed communities (Kleinhans, 2004). Interaction is inhibited by a number of factors including the different social worlds which renters and owners occupy (Allen et al, 2005). It is certainly true that if there is no or little meaningful interaction between owner occupiers and social renters it is hard to see how mixed communities can improve social networks. It may be that societal factors are so great that interactions of this type are impossible or highly unlikely, or it may be possible to create and sustain mixed communities which can encourage these interactions. There are good reasons for thinking that mixed communities can and should form part of efforts to improve the quality of life of low income households. This is not to argue that mixed communities can themselves solve all the problems associated with, for example, being on a low income. As we have already shown neighbourhood effects are not of a comparable magnitude to the effects of personal or family characteristics. Ultimately it is in the ability of mixed communities to counter neighbourhood effects that their worth as a policy instrument must be judged. The most controversial claim for mixed communities is their ability to improve the social networks of deprived areas. It will be this claim that I will be examining in more detail.

In practice promoting community cohesion has meant fulfilling a range of diverse and sometimes antagonistic goals. In the words of the Home Office, ensuring equal opportunities for all and thereby reducing race inequalities is still “"an overarching objective” (Home Office, 2003, p.8) but “strong society relies on more than simply good individual life chances” and promoting community cohesion has also entailed promoting a “sense of common belonging and identify, forged through shared participation... through mutual understanding of cultural difference" (Home Office, 2003, p.20). To achieve changes in people’s values and even identities Government has placed great hope in the power of “meaningful interaction” (CLG, 2007a, p.14) between people of different backgrounds. "Changing hearts and minds" (ODPM, 2004, p.2), as the ODPM described it, is to be achieved through "the promotion of cross cultural contact between different communities at all levels, foster understanding and respect and break down barriers". If people mixed together more, the argument runs, there would be a better sense of cohesion and more positive views on diversity (Commission on Integration & Cohesion, 2007, p.8).

The type of interaction which government wants to encourage has distinctive features. It should occur naturally, as part of daily activity, something which is not possible in mono-cultural communities, (Home Office, 2003, p.11). Furthermore, the interaction should be meaningful, which is to say that they should go beyond surface friendliness so that people exchange personal information or talk about each other's differences; the interactions should be between people who share a common goal or share an interest and the contact should be sustained and long-term (CLG, 2007a, p.14). Several avenues for promoting this sort of interaction are immediately apparent. Shared spaces, of all sorts, as long as they are safe and well managed, have much to recommend themselves (CLG, 2007, p.23), as do local charities, third sector organisations, cultural festivals and sporting events which are open to people of all backgrounds (CLG, 2007a, p.25). Finally, shared resources can be another means for promoting this sort of interaction. These could be shared resources which are actually owned by the local community such as community centres or green spaces (CLG, 2007a, p.24) or commonly used resources such as schools or shops (Commission on Integration & Cohesion, 2007, p.26). Government has implemented various policies to promote community cohesion in this way. A Community Cohesion Unit was established in the Home Office and Community Cohesion Pathfinder Programmes were established in various Local Authorities across the country. Each Local Authority now has to prepare a "local community cohesion plan" (Worley, p.487). PSA 21 aims to “build more cohesive, empowered and active communities”. In summary, as Worley says "community cohesion is now the official race relations policy of the UK" and more beside (Worley, p.487). It is hard to understate how controversial some of these measures have been in some circles. They have been seen as a reversal of the multicultural policies of the late 1990s (Worley, p. 484), and as a way of marginalising the importance of social and economic measures (Letki, pp. 23-4). In some people’s eyes there is a direct competition between efforts to ensure racial equality and efforts to improve community cohesion (Commission on Integration & Cohesion, 2007d, p.3). Using this logic any efforts to improve community cohesion are necessarily at the expense of racial equality. Measures to improve meaningful interactions between people of different backgrounds should have a place in government efforts to improve community cohesion. They should not come at the expense of efforts to promote racial equality. Indeed meaningful contact is more likely in a context of racial equality. However, the ability of government to actually successfully promote meaningful interaction is far from clear. In this final section I will sketch out the hypothesises which would have to be demonstrated in order for us to believe that mixed communities could form part of government’s efforts to promote community cohesion.

Our essential thesis is that meaningful interaction can create improved social networks of all types. This can be formal or informal interaction. This is equally true of interaction between people of different classes and different cultures. The second thesis is that mixed communities encourage these types of interactions between people of difference income groups and, importantly, of different cultures.

Combined these two theses produce a number of testable hypothesises. Firstly, that mixed communities encourage informal interaction between people of different backgrounds. Secondly, that mixed communities encourage formal interaction between people of different backgrounds. Thirdly, mixed communities encourage greater generalized feelings of trust amongst all people. Fourthly, mixed communities encourage shared values and help address negative racial attitudes amongst residents. Finally, mixed communities encourage greater sense of ownership of place and greater responsiveness in local government amongst all residents. Though new many of these ideas are already exerting considerable influence on Government at all levels. The recent report of the Commission on Integration and Cohesion entitled Our Shared Future argued that “cohesive and integrated communities are more easily achieved where there is a mix of housing types and tenures” (Commission on Integration & Cohesion, 2007b, p.123). On this basis they recommended that “all affordable housing providers receiving investment funding should demonstrate how this funding will assist in promoting cohesion and delivering mixed communities.” (Commission on Integration & Cohesion, 2007b, p.136)

Case study
The development
The case study took the form of an examination of the opinions of new residents of a mixed income development called “Blandford Street”. The development itself is situated in an attractive part of central London, within the City of Westminster, on a site formerly occupied by London Electricity. In total the development comprised 127 residential units and a retail unit. The residential units were split by tenure between 89 private units and 38 “affordable” units, which in turn were broken down between 9 shared ownership, 3 key worker and 27 social renting units. These were to be managed by a local Registered Social Landlord, Octavia Housing, although the tenants came from the council’s housing list. Along with the provision of affordable housing the council negotiated a financial contribution of £80,000 towards the provision of children’s play equipment, a contribution of £20,000 towards tree planting in the area, £75,000 for the provision of public art and finally the repaving of the footway adjacent to the site. The development has three main front doors, two are for those who live in the affordable housing units and the other is for those who live in the market housing (see Appendix B, Figure 1); according to the planning brief “the market and affordable units will be separated in order to aid their management, although the development will appear as a single building”. The main front door for the market housing component has a concierge service (see Appendix B, Figure 2). There is a court yard area in the middle of the development which is not accessible from the road, neither is it accessible to the residents of the affordable housing, although it is visible to them (see Appendix B, Figure 3). There is an underground car park, which is accessible through a gate from the road, but this is only for the use of the residents in the market housing (see Appendix B, Figure 4). The affordable and market units are connected by a fire door. This door is usually locked but can be opened in an emergency (see Appendix B, Figure 5).

The first part of the research project involved sending all residents a questionnaire (see Appendix A). Respondents were asked seven questions to which they were invited to tick a box which equated with their subjective response. The questions were; 1. Has living in Blandford Street changed how often you interact with people from different backgrounds? 2. Has living in Blandford Street changed how likely you are to be part of a club or association with people from different backgrounds? 3. Has living in Blandford Street meant you understand people from different backgrounds better? 4. Has living in Blandford Street meant you are more likely to think that everyone in Britain shares the same values? 5. Has living in Blandford Street meant you are more likely to trust people in general?

6. Has living in Blandford Street meant you are more likely to trust the Council? 7. Has living in Blandford Street meant you feel that you can change the way things are done in your local area? 8. Any other comments?

For each question, apart from the last which was open ended, respondents were asked if they were much more likely, a bit more likely, a bit less likely, a lot less likely or no more or less likely to feel or behave in the way described in the question. Included with the questionnaire was a voluntary monitoring form in which respondents were asked to write their age, religion, tenure and ethnicity. Respondents were also asked if they would be interested in taking part in a longer interview in person. Assuming that all the market units have been sold, which I was unable to verify but certainly did not seem to be the case, there were potentially 127 respondents. From the initially mail out of the questionnaire I received 21 responses; a second mail out followed to which I received a further 9 responses. In total I received 12 responses from the market units and 18 from the affordable units. All responses from the market units identified themselves as “white” whilst six of the eighteen responses in the affordable units identified themselves as from a Black or Minority Ethnic (BME) background. Finally, longer interviews were conducted in person. The interviews took place with two residents from the market housing, two from the general needs social housing and one key worker. These interviews were structured around the seven questions from the questionnaire. However, they also roamed more broadly to consider questions relating to the participants previous residence and more general questions surrounding community cohesion. This method was chosen as the best way of measuring people’s subjective experience of living in a mixed income community. There are several ways in which the study could have been improved. Firstly, a larger response to the questionnaire would have been preferable. In general it proved harder to persuade those from the market housing to complete the questionnaire or to take part in the interviews. A large sample could have been achieved by offering a small reward for completing the questionnaire and sending out translations in other languages than English such as Arabic. Secondly, a larger number of people could have been interviewed in person to give more weight to the conclusions drawn here. This did not prove possible given the time constraints that the project was completed under. Finally, it would have been preferable if the results obtained through this study could have been compared with an estate undergoing a regeneration initiative designed to create a more mixed income community. This would have allowed us to determine whether the process of creating mixed income communities through development had a different impact to their creation through more gradual means.

Hypothesis 1: that mixed communities encourage informal interaction between people of different backgrounds

There was no consensus that living in the mixed income community had increased interaction with people from different backgrounds (see Appendix C, Table 1 and 2). No respondents from the market housing believed that they had increased the level of interaction with people of different background. This could partly be explained by the fact that although respondents from the market housing section of the development were not uniformly British they did uniformly describe themselves as “White”. In the interviews residents from the market accommodation confirmed that they had little or nothing to do with those from the affordable housing. As one respondent innocently explained “ours paths don’t seem to cross”. Another respondent was more forceful explaining that “I wouldn’t have any reason to mix with them. There’s no reason to interact”. Amongst those who live in the affordable housing there was no consensus that living in Blandford street had increased or decreased the amount of interaction respondents had with people of different backgrounds. In interviews it became apparent that two factors lay behind this fact. The first was that throughout their lives they had always had a high degree of interaction with people from different backgrounds to themselves. As one respondent put it “Iraqi… Kurdish… I’ve always had that, I’ve had Polish people, my next door neighbour was German… I’ve had Spanish, Portuguese”. The other important factor was that there was very little in the way of interaction with the residents of the market housing. As one respondent put it “I don’t have many dealings with them”. In a longer exchange with another respondent some of the barriers to interaction between residents of the affordable and market accommodation became clear. Q: Do you know anyone in the private side? A: No, because they drive their big four wheel drives into the car park and Bentleys and they’ve got their concierge… no I wouldn’t have any reason to. Q: What’s your sense of what they are like? A: Rich, posh, got loads of money to burn... that doesn’t bother me

When people described interactions with their neighbours they were likely to site the communal areas, local amenities such as shops or restaurants and sometimes schools as the sites for interaction, although there were differences between respondents. Those in the market units were more likely to use the local shops whereas residents in the affordable units were more likely to go slightly further to find cheaper products. One explained that “I don’t eat in these restaurants… far too expensive… I go to… I know all the cheap Indian restaurants”. Respondents from the market units were dismissive of the possibility of meeting their neighbours in the local shops. As one put it “I wouldn’t know they were my neighbours if I did”. However, residents from the affordable units were more likely to report meeting their neighbours in the local shops when they did use them. As one interviewee put it “sometimes I go to Tesco here and I see someone from the block. We talk.” He also reported that his children went to the same school as a neighbour’s children. As a result of this he had got to know that family quiet well and “their mother comes and talks to my wife sometimes”.

The interactions which respondents described in the communal areas would not meet the government’s criteria for “meaningful interaction.” They were usually short but friendly. If there was conversation it was brief and concerned with “food, about shopping, about prices going up”. One respondent admitted that there were definite limits to the interactions. When asked if she bumps into her neighbours she replied “Yes, my next door neighbour here was very, very hospitable. She invited us in for mint tea and she was very nice but that was it”. Sometimes these interactions achieved precisely the opposite result of that which the Government would hope for. One respondent told of a time when she was walking back from work and she “turned around and there’s one of my neighbours walking like this [imitates a nervous shuffle] and I thought he doesn’t want to go up in the lift with me” When pressed as to why this might be the answer was that it was “because I’m a white woman.”

Hypothesis 2: that mixed communities encourage formal interaction between people of different backgrounds
Those in the market housing uniformly answered that there had been no change in the likelihood of their joining an association or club (See Appendix C, Table 3 and 4). Associations and clubs are, in theory, a key means of generating increased bonding social capital and so this must be seen as a disappointing result. There is no residents association for the residents in the market units, nor is there one for the block as a whole. Several of the respondents replied that they used the property as a “pied-a-terre” and so are not regularly in the property in any case. The situation was more complex with those in the affordable housing. Whilst again most were of the opinion that they were no more or less likely to be part of associations, some, including a number of respondents from BME groups, said that they were. On closer inspection in the interviews it became clear that the RSL has organised several events where residents of the affordable housing units were invited to talk about the block and ways in which it could be improved. One respondent explained that as a result of these meetings she had become a member of the “Tenant Steering Group” of the RSL and had become a recycling champion. However, another was much less impressed at the ability of people in the development to get together in any kind of official capacity. When pressed as to whether she thought people would get together if there was a serious problem she replied “Not really, no, because people don’t know each other”.

Hypothesis 3: that mixed communities encourage greater generalized feelings of trust amongst all people
On the question of generalised trust there were some muted but positive responses (See Appendix C, Table 5 and 6). Whilst those in the market units did not feel an increase or decrease in their levels of trust, those in the affordable units saw some increase. This may have something to do with the evidence that residents of areas with high disorder experience low levels of trust and vice-versa (Letki, p.10). Several of the respondents from the affordable units explained that their previous homes had been plagued by crime and anti-social behaviour, in contrast to their new residences which were far calmer.

Hypothesis 4: that mixed communities encourage shared values and help address negative racial attitudes amongst residents
None of the respondents from the market units felt that their knowledge of people from different backgrounds or their appreciation of those backgrounds had changed in the slightest (See Appendix C, Table 7 and 8). Similarly, residents in the affordable units who described themselves as White did not feel that their knowledge or appreciation of diversity had been altered by their situation. This need not imply that any of these respondents had a poor understanding of different cultures or no appreciation for different cultures. Indeed one interviewee spoke at length about her understanding of Sharia law. However, they did not feel that this knowledge had been gathered from their neighbours but rather through their own reading, the media and work colleagues. Respondents from BME groups in the affordable housing units gave slight different responses to this question. A sizeable percentage replied that they did understand different cultures a bit better as a result of living in the development. One interviewee explained “why do people go on holiday? To see other cultures!” they argued that a similar principle was in operation in the development, concluding that “every day you know different things about [different] culture[s]”. He explained that “if I want to respect another one I must know everything about them.” This knowledge was not the type which one can get from reading, he went on, “you know different things, not just the religion, the culture, the food, everything.” This knowledge and appreciation of his neighbours was gained through interaction with them. The fact that BME respondents were more likely to report these changes may be related to the findings of the Commission on Integration and Cohesion that white people were less likely to interact with people from different backgrounds to themselves than any other group (Commision on Integration & Cohesion, 2007c, p.7). The question as to whether living in the development has promoted shared values amongst neighbours elicited three radically distinct responses (See Appendix C, Table 9 and 10). Those who lived in the market units felt that living in the development had had no effect either way on their opinion of their neighbour’s values. Those in the affordable housing unit who defined themselves as coming from BME groups uniformly felt that living in the development had made them more likely to think that everyone in Britain shares the same values. In complete contrast to this half of the white residents in the development felt a lot less likely to think that everyone in Britain shares their values. Given the lack of knowledge or contact with their neighbours it is perhaps not surprising that those in the market units were completely unaffected by their stay in the development. When asked if he felt that there were any racial tensions in the area one interviewee responded “No. Well, not that I am aware of”, tacitly admitting his lack of awareness of the area. Those from BME groups were positive about the effect that living in the development had had. They pointed to a pervasive, tolerant atmosphere in the block. “Everyone can have their own religion” one respondent replied. This mutual respect was a recurring feature of their comments on shared values. The same interviewee described this as “one of the basic things, of course this is important. I respect his culture, his religion, his everything.” It would seem that

the increased interaction with people from different backgrounds had lead to these residents feeling a greater sense of solidarity with their neighbours. Some of the White respondents from the affordable units were ambivalent in their response. One replied that she did not think that her attitude had changed since she had always believed that “I have a lot of common aspirations [with people from different backgrounds].” However, when pressed she revealed that there were differences. Although she felt that everyone valued family and wanted “good services, [and]… a nice place to live” she did think that “some people go about it a different way” These people “think they don’t have to work. They feel that it is ok to not work and claim benefits forever… expecting to get a four bedroom house”. I asked her if she found that this type of person was often from a non-white background to which she responded “Yes. Horrible to say but true. They are Arabic. Or Bengali.” She also felt strongly that, as a result of living in the development, she had observed that some people from Arabic backgrounds were “incapable of putting their rubbish away properly” and described in some detail an altercation which had taken place between herself and a neighbour who had not thrown his rubbish away properly. The root cause of this difference was, in her mind, that they did not feel that having their property was a privilege but rather believed it was their right. “If you and I went to Saudi Arabia I would have to obey the laws there” she concluded “and I think people are allowed a lot of leeway here”. One interviewee was stronger still in her feelings. She admitted that where she had previously lived she had had several neighbours from non-British backgrounds, including many Muslims. However, she felt that living in Blandford Street had given her further reason to believe that Muslims do not share the same values as her. As she said “the problem is that people want the benefits of living in a democracy… but they don’t want to integrate because they think I should come round to their way of thinking. This is a Christian country, I do drink alcohol… it’s like me going over to Dubai and trying to open a pub.”

Hypothesis 5: that mixed communities encourage a greater sense of ownership of place and greater responsiveness in local government amongst all residents.
Most residents felt that living in the development had had little or no impact on their trust or interaction with the Local Authority (See Appendix C, Table 11, 12, 13 and 14). To use the jargon of the academic literature, there was no evidence that living in the mixed income community had increased their linking social capital. All the responses from those in the market units were that their trust in the Council was unchanged by the experience of living in the development. Whilst some responses from those in the affordable units initially indicated that there might have been some change either way on this indicator, on closer inspection in the interview stage there appeared to be little evidence of this. However, there was some evidence that residents from BME groups had began to feel more empowered by their residence in the block. The fact that this group had not felt more influence over the council may be because their landlord was a RSL rather than the council. Many explained that they had far more dealings with their landlord than their council. One interviewee explained a story over how the residents of the block had got together to demand that Arabic channels be included in the satellite system for the block “We get together if there is a problem and we talk to each other and then we report it, like

when the satellite did not work. We said there are too many Arabic families in here and they fixed it.” One respondent had become more entrenched in her view that the Council would not listen to her or people like her during the time she had lived in the development. She felt that “they’ve got their priorities wrong.” As a result of living in the development she was more convinced that the Council listened to private residents “because they bring money in” and to ethnic minorities “because they don’t want to upset them.” This caution found agreement with another respondent who felt that nationally questions over the treatment of Muslims is “so politically hot” that people are afraid to offend Muslims. Similarly, she agreed that life was very different if you had money. She explained that “it’s not your right to live in 4 bedroom accommodation that doesn’t exist, unless you’ve got lots of money. It just doesn’t exist. It’s not being racist it’s just a fact of life.” This view was echoed by another neighbour who, when asked what he imagined the residents of the private flats were like responded “because they have money they have everything”

The aim of this essay has been to establish whether community cohesion can be increased by creating more mixed communities. In order to determine the answer to this overriding question five hypothesis were postulated and then tested with reference to the residents of a relatively new mixed community. On the basis of the literature review we expected that the more meaningful interactions that were taking place between neighbours of different backgrounds the more likely it would be that there hypothesises would be proved true. What was uncertain was the degree that mixed communities can encourage these interactions.

The case study found that the specific mixed community under study did not significantly promote community cohesion. The main reason for this was that not only did the development not encourage meaningful interaction between residents; in fact it placed barriers in the way of such interactions. There were reasons to believe that, for each hypothesis, if the development had been designed and managed differently, it could have been a driver for more positive community cohesion. There were also reasons to think that policies aimed at the neighbourhood level were quiet unable, by themselves, to effect substantial change in community cohesion without being nested in complimentary national policies.

The most unqualified positive result was the extent that those in the affordable units reported greater general feelings of trust. This seems to be a result of the much lower amounts of antisocial behaviour which the residents of the development experienced as compared to their previous homes. This is not an accident. There is considerable evidence which shows that disorder is linked with deprivation. The residents of the affordable units who reported high levels of trust had previously lived in areas which were dominated by social housing and had high levels of deprivation. The new development was in an area which does not have much social housing but the Local Authority was able to secure the development of the new affordable units by using the planning system.

While few residents reported feeling that the Council was more likely to respond to their concerns as a result of living in the development there was some increase in those who felt able to affect change in their area. This may have something to do with the fact that the affordable properties were not managed directly by the Council. Rather they were managed by a Housing Association. The increasingly nebulous accountability structures of public service providers which have been created over the last 25 years may have made those public services more responsive. They have certainly reduced the extent that Local Authorities are direct providers. As Local Authorities have moved to an enabling role they have become less visible to many. This may have the effect of undermining even the possibility of people feeling a general sense of empowerment.

There was very little evidence of formal mixing between residents. Given the findings of the secondary literature this seems a real failing and there is certainly considerable room for improvement on this score. There is no residents association for the development as a whole, although there are regular meetings for the residents of the affordable units. If left to its own devices there seems little prospect that an association for the development as a whole will be created. If one had been designed into the development the amount of formal interaction could easily have improved. More radical still, if this resident association was given the ownership of a shared resource, such as the courtyard, the results could have been even better. This could also have been a way of linking the residents into the web of third sector organisations which exist in the area and provide another potential setting for formal interactions.

The amount of informal interaction which took place between residents of different backgrounds was again disappointing. The residents in the market units had little awareness of the existence of residents in the affordable units let alone any interaction with them. Certainly design plays a role in this question (Academy for sustainable communities, p.31). The clear intention of many of the design features of the development was to discourage interaction between residents of the affordable and market units. Separate front doors and communal spaces and a courtyard which only the market unit residents could use all presented significant barriers to interaction. If mixed communities are to assist in interactions between people of different backgrounds they must be designed with this in mind. The interactions which took place between residents of different backgrounds in the affordable units were far from entirely positive. They often served to further reinforce negative views of other cultures rather than counteracting these views. This was often down to perceived misuse of communal areas, such as arguments over how to properly dispose of rubbish. The communal areas which did exist were merely areas to travel through, giving residents no reasons to stop and interact with their neighbours. If the communal areas were designed and managed in such a way as to be attractive to all residents this could improve the amount of interaction which takes place between neighbours.

The most woeful results were on the question of the promotion of shared values. Those in the market units felt no change in their view as to whether or not people of different cultures share the same values in Britain. This is unsurprising but damming as it seems to be a result of the lack of interaction between these residents and those in the affordable units. Given their separation there was no way they could increase the social networks of the bridging social capital of their neighbours in the affordable units. The responses from the White residents in the affordable units show that they felt less likely to believe that people in Britain share the same values. It could be argued that this was a result of the lack of meaningful interaction taking place between them. However, in the in depth interviews it was clear that broader societal questions were the predominant reason for these views. Respondents raised questions over the scarcity of public resources, especially the lack of public housing and perceived injustice in its distribution, the pervading influence of class, the lack of English language teaching and a sense that certain views were impossible to voice in the current climate. These barriers to community cohesion are such that they can only be addressed at the national level. If neighbourhood

policies like mixed communities initiatives are to promote community cohesion they must be nested in complimentary national policies. As suggested in the literature review the respondents in this study all reported that they interact less with their neighbours than people did in the past. This is a fact of profound importance for proponents of mixed communities. It is not enough to place people next to each other and assume they will interact. When asked if it would be possible to design a block so that people would mix together more one resident replied simply “not now, no. Years ago, yes.” If we still wish to achieve and foster meaningful interaction between neighbours we must be more vigorous in our efforts. However, this might come up against other priorities, notably those of the private developers who seek to make the largest possible return on their investment. Respondents from the market units felt uneasy about even the prospect of pepper-potting the affordable and market units let alone policies to actual promote interaction. It is a moot question as to whether there is there will or necessity to override the potent barriers to interaction which currently exist.

Neighbourhood level policies, such as mixed community initiatives, can and should be part of efforts to promote community cohesion. They will only be successful if they are nested within complimentary national policies. Certain types of mixed communities can promote community cohesion. These must be mixed communities which promote meaningful interactions of both a formal and informal type between residents of different backgrounds. If interactions of this type take place the key indicators of community cohesion are likely to improve in an area. However, other types of mixed communities can erect barriers to interaction which can mean that they have no or even a negative impact on community cohesion. This essay tested the idea that mixed communities promote community cohesion by looking closely at a particular mixed community development. New developments are one of the two prominent ways in which government creates mixed communities; the other being efforts to regenerate deprived areas by introducing market units in areas with a high percentage of social housing. Many of the conclusions of this case study would also apply to this second type of mixed community, such as those created through the Mixed Communities Initiative. Our investigation found that there were low levels of interaction, both formal and informal, between residents of different backgrounds on the new development. As was expected this lead to a nugatory if not negative movement on the indicators of community cohesion, especially over the question of shared values. Some of the positive responses received can be traced to factors not directly related to the fact that the development was a mixed community. The importance of ensuring that communities do not suffer from anti-social behaviour and that public services are delivered in a responsive fashion which empowers users should not be underestimated by those who seek to improve community cohesion. Whilst the study showed low levels of interaction this in itself pointed to ways in which future developments or regeneration efforts can learn from this case. If promoting community cohesion is to be a goal of mixed communities as few barriers to interaction as possible should be created. Efforts should be made to create well managed, safe communal areas which all residents want to use and are able to use. The courtyard without a single bench which is inaccessible to the residents of the affordable units should act as an example of how not to designed communal areas. Similarly, the opportunity which a new development presents to encourage formal interaction between residents was not seized in this case. There was no residents association established for all residents of the development and there appears to be little prospect of such an association being spontaneously created. Whilst there could have been improvements in the development to encourage interaction between residents of different backgrounds we should also be aware that such efforts increasingly run against the grain of modern life. For a variety of reasons people are less likely than they used to be to have meaningful interactions with their neighbours or to attend meetings

or to join associations. If interaction is to be the principle means of achieving improved community cohesion then more active intervention and will be required to counteract the forces which currently oppose interaction. However, this intervention may be unpopular with people who resent being forced to interact and with house builders who feel that segregated housing is more likely to sell for a higher value. As Cantle made clear “the impact of housing policies on community cohesion seems to have escaped serious consideration to date” (Cantle, p.42). It is for exactly this reason that the link was the focus of this essay. However, it is also for this reason that many of the conclusions drawn here are suggestive rather than definitive and require further exploration. At present the techniques which are needed to encourage the type of mixing which might bring about improved community cohesion are still in their infancy. Whilst it might be true that, in the words of PSA 21 “bridging social capital supports cohesion”, it is certainly not true that mixed communities in and of themselves generate more bridging social capital. In fact it is perfectly possible for badly designed mixed communities to lessen bridging social capital and generate mistrust and resentment. Proponents are still to prove that it is possible to design, manage and maintain mixed communities which promote community cohesion.

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