The basket of measures for resilience and sustainability covers both the natural and built environment.
In terms of the natural environment, we consider air quality, CO2 emissions, recycling levels and energy consumption to identify places that have a neutral impact on the environment. In terms of the built environment, we look at the extent to which places provide the infrastructure necessary for people and businesses to flourish. This includes indicators such as households on local authority waiting lists, dwelling completions, planning applications and the number of homes built on previously developed land.
A very mixed picture
This combination of measures results in a very diverse geographical spread. The top 10 performers alone come from five different regions: London (Croydon and Barnet), the South West (Wiltshire, Bristol and Bath), the South East (Milton Keynes, Aylesbury Vale and Maidstone), the East of England (Central Bedfordshire) and the West Midlands (Shropshire). This regional variation continues throughout the ranking, with places from seven different regions taking the 10 lowest rankings.
Of all the regions, London and the South West have the highest proportion of areas (around one-third) ranking in the top 20% nationally. The North West has the fewest, with just 5% of areas ranking in the top 20% and one-third ranking in the bottom 20% nationally.
The impact of local policies
This local and regional variation can be explained by the measures within this basket. Perhaps more than any others, they are directly influenced and shaped by local authority decision-making and policy actions. This means that, within a region, geographical neighbours could see very different decisions being made in relation to housing, planning and recycling.
To create vibrant economies, places need to provide not just enough homes, but the right type and tenure of homes. This means considering the availability of affordable and family homes as well as the provision of flats and other housing types. But as the population grows, it’s also vital to consider the environmental implications of growth, particularly in terms of energy consumption and the levels of waste generated. As with the other baskets, these are challenging issues with no easy solutions.