Terms such as “living neighborhoods” or “neighborhoods worth living in” show that quality of living is increasingly being associated with life at a neighborhood level. As a result, neighborhoods are moving into the spotlight of the real estate industry. This can influence urban development by taking a holistic view of the neighborhood – and at the same time create value and improve the housing situation for local residents. Long-term planning and tailor-made construction solutions can help to ensure that living in developed neighborhoods is, and remains, affordable for broad sections of the population. This allows sustainable citizen and tenant-focused urban development to be combined effectively with value creation for the company.
As a result, the development of contiguous housing stocks is a top priority for Vonovia. In our view, they offer particular potential for structural and social design measures – allowing Vonovia to contribute to sustainable urban development.
Community development includes several key measures. In addition to renovation measures with socially acceptable, low modernization cost allocations, the comprehensive review of financial and social hardship cases (see chapter Creating Affordable Living Space) and measures to improve energy efficiency in the portfolio (see chapter Environment), these measures include the creation of living space by adding additional stories to existing buildings and new construction on unused open spaces. They also include measures to shape the residential environment, which not only involve upgrading and optimizing existing green spaces, but also creating new recreational and meeting places. We also take account of infrastructure issues, which we address, for example, by way of holistic mobility concepts or the establishment of local amenities.
In addition to construction measures, social infrastructure also plays a key role. In addition to special forms of housing, such as senior-friendly apartments, services and neighborhood meeting places are also being established with community-focused cooperation partners and children’s day care centers are being set up. The integrated neighborhood philosophy is underpinned by needs-based and functional cooperation projects with social institutions. This allows us to promote a sense of peaceful coexistence, integration and interaction within the neighborhood. We use various tools for this purpose, e.g., making premises available. Conventional donations to social institutions and projects also help to foster community spirit within a neighborhood. Group guidelines on how to deal with social support measures provide a framework within which the responsible individuals are free to operate on a decentralized level, selecting and implementing suitable and needs-based cooperation projects.
Acceptance by the tenants and residents concerned is an absolute must for all changes in the neighborhood. This is why we rely on comprehensive participation formats that give tenants a say and allow them to influence the design of the projects concerned. Participation processes designed for active involvement and civic participation initiatives help us to overcome differences and develop solutions for the neighborhood hand-in-hand with each other. By involving citizens and tenants in project planning and implementation, we can increase the quality of the solutions and their acceptance. Typical involvement formats include fireside chats, planning pop-up offices and tenant workshops allowing tenants to actively contribute to facade and playground design, mobility issues and route/pathway design. Participation and extensive communication involving all partners is a key component for the successful implementation of large community development projects in particular.
The variety of measures proves that it is possible to take a holistic approach that goes beyond merely increasing the value of a property and has the potential to create completely new types of residential environments worth living in. We use our community development projects to play an active role in urban development and to live up to our responsibility for ensuring social harmony.
Establishment in the Organization 103-2
Responsibility for community development projects – once they have been approved by the Management Board – lies with the regional organization, which is responsible for both the planning of, and provision of commercial support for, the individual projects. When it comes to executing the projects, we increasingly use our own on-site community developers in the neighborhoods, which allows us to deal with any special issues that arise as needed.
The participation formats are also the responsibility of, and are managed by, the regions, as are our corporate citizenship and philanthropy activities. The latter are supplemented, and their quality assured, by social engagement approaches that are centrally managed via Corporate Communications.