We just want to be good, is perhaps a thought that crosses the mind of any professional in respect of their work - as with professionals, so too agencies and governments.
This question is being asked in relation to our housing environment. The Scottish Government is developing a tool for assessing how 'good' housing schemes are at placemaking in response to difficulties developers and planners have in judging urban design quality. A parallel interest is asking the question of how good a project is in relation to people's health, best indicated that the process is being developed in partnership with the NHS building on recent documents like 'Good places better health for children'
Are health and environment in tune with each other. Physical activity is important - it has been shown 30 mins of walking has benefits for health but more than that supports local economies with the so called Pedestrian Pound as well as reducing car uses.
The strategy methodology is innovative through the creation of a standard to assess achievement. Called 'A Place Standard for Scotland' it echoes an approach developed in England called 'Building for Life 12' - 12 referring to the number of assessment criteria. Amongst them are the broad context issues such as connections and public transport, more specifically character and definition of streets and how it is experienced, orientation and amenity.
The Scottish version follows these lines with some interesting variations, play, green space, the potential for social interactions, perceptions of safety and the degree of opportunity for engaged communities.
Each aspect helpfully is written as a question in a starburst extending from a central point in a sequence of ripples equivalent to a score from 0 at the centre to 7 on the edge. Marking each question in turn results when the scores are joined in a shape, the closer to a complete circle the better the housing is in the broader assessment. The idea is that achieving a benchmark score will result in the accolade of 'A Place Standard for Scotland' award.
Our Places to Live team had a go at applying the standard to test the system, the results from a range of European Housing and an assessment of our recent Laurieston Phase 1A and Moffat Housing from the 1990's, below was a sequence of varied shapes.
So what does 'good' look like - beyond a series of interesting shaped graphs. It will obviously be experienced in the finished piece but whether that is 'Good' depends on the process to get you there. It is therefore not the final mark but the working through, showing your working and asking and answering the questions across a broad front of issues that builds the foundation for a truly 'good.'