Vibrant communities have a lively and creative cultural life, making them places people want to visit. They are also places where people feel safe and are engaged in society and community activities.
To measure this, this basket uses a range of indicators, including voter turnout, crime levels, measures of isolation and diversity, and the number of cultural and community assets an area has. From the outset, this has been one of the hardest categories to measure due to a real lack of national statistics on issues like community engagement, belonging and trust.
London and around
In terms of the strongest performers on this basket of measures, the geographical picture is varied. There is a cluster of strong performers around London and in the immediate areas to the north and south. Many of these areas make up the top 20 ranked places, including four London boroughs – Kensington and Chelsea, Camden, Richmond upon Thames and Westminster – which all make the top 10. Outside London, Oxford ranks first in this category, with Cambridge, Windsor and Maidenhead, St Albans, Weymouth and Portland and South Bucks taking the remaining five spots.
In general, London performs strongly with just under half of London boroughs ranking in the top 20% nationally. This is driven in part by the vast array and high density of assets and amenities in the capital. In contrast, the East Midlands faces a significant challenge, with no areas ranking in the top 20% nationally and over half of areas ranking below the national average.
Looking at the geographical distribution of places that rank below average, it’s clear that coastal areas, particularly along the east coast of England from the North East to Essex and Kent, face the most significant challenges. Here, urbanisation – which has pulled people towards cities – and a shift away from the British seaside holiday over several generations has hollowed out the sense of community in many of these traditional resorts. Creating a vibrant economy in these towns is a challenge. It will require action across many dimensions for these places to achieve economic growth, capture a sense of opportunity and become more inclusive. A true sense of community and belonging can only be reignited when some of the underlying factors have been addressed.