We want to build successful communities, and we believe the best way to do this is by creating strong relationships with local people and groups. We invest in our relationships, allocating time and funding to bring communities together and providing the services and activities both existing and future residents want and need.

With our sites at different stages and in different areas, our activities at each project vary. Our approach, however, remains the same: we develop community hubs and schools early in our developments while running events to build communities in response to specific local needs.

At Houlton, the Tuning Fork continues to form a hub for the community with an average of 121 visitors per day, many of whom also come to our Visitor Centre.

It also plays a role in supporting local initiatives, providing a venue for events and opening out of hours to play their part in the growing community.

We continue to support substantial initiatives in Rugby through our Houlton sponsorship programme. We have invested £50,000 into the programme to strengthen the town’s profile and its connection to Rugby and promote community engagement. Activities have included Pride of Rugby, Rugby’s Got Talent, Festival of Culture, Spring Fair and Fireworks Extravaganza, which we have delivered with key partners including RBC, Rotary Club, Rugby Roundtable and Rugby FM. Social media provides a further mechanism for engagement and we use our voice to not only promote our sites but also to link to local activities and events in the surrounding area.

At a business level, our community engagement extends to active market and governmental involvement. We regularly hold site visits for key stakeholders and recently showed the boards and senior officers of the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and Homes England around Alconbury to explain the Master Developer approach in action. Our team is also regularly invited to speak at key events such as MHCLG’s national design conference and Homes England’s all staff conference.

Staff engagement

We encourage our people to get involved with community projects that support our sites and now have several roles which are dedicated to supporting and developing site communities. In total we spent 5,776 hours on community development projects. With 2.5 full-time equivalents at Alconbury, our allocation of staff support is currently heavily weighted to this site. Roles here include a skills lead and community development. As some of these roles also cover the other sites in Cambridgeshire the staff support will redistribute more evenly as Waterbeach and Wintringham become further established.

Colleagues are involved in all kinds of community projects. For example, Priors Hall employees attend and present at bi-monthly residents’ meetings, host monthly coffee mornings, attend Resident Association planning meetings and sit on the boards for the community centre and the business academy. In Cambridgeshire staff are involved in the local nature partnership – Natural Cambridgeshire – chairing of the Developers Panel and sit on the boards of local charities and school governing bodies.

We supported the Newark Half Marathon for the second year to help fund a great local event and boost the profile of Middlebeck. 1,000 people took part and there were a range of activities on around the finish area for supporters.

While supporting a local initiative, the event also created goodwill and allowed the housebuilders to promote themselves and the development.

Our engagement with local communities starts early. We have already begun to build our relationships around Basingstoke to take forward Manydown, which we acquired in February. Our team took part in a four-day workshop, which was hosted by local architects and facilitated by SPUD Youth. The event gave 13 to 21 year-olds interested in architecture, buildings, art and green spaces a chance to develop their skills and have a say in the development of new communities at Manydown. We ran a workshop which explained master development and why community infrastructure is so important when designing at such a large scale. We then discussed Manydown in detail and helped the students prepare and present their own masterplans for parts of the site, addressing the real world constraints. The exercises helped the students grasp the scale and complexity of strategic delivery. The students subsequently presented their conclusions to the local council’s Manydown Overview Committee to strong acclaim from the Councillors.


hours spent on community
development projects


Rebecca Britton hosting the “Secrets of Scaling Up” Event, Alconbury


U&C Non-executives site visit to St Gabriel’s Church of England Academy at Houlton

Community projects

We want to make a real difference to build and support the emerging communities on our sites.

At Alconbury we have been working with a community-run project called Grub Hub for a number of years. It provides a hot meal and get-together once a week for families who are receiving support from the Food Bank in Huntingdon. Grub Hub has developed into a positive environment, in which family support workers meet and work with families. Working with the EDGE team, we have helped provide advice on jobs and training, and by making connections with the companies growing at Alconbury Weald. Last Christmas, we asked all contractors and companies on site to contribute funding or goods to support the Food Bank and Grub Hub. Together we raised an incredible £14,000. This secured enough funding for the Food Bank to provide Christmas and Easter hampers to families registered with them. The money left over covered the cost of hiring the venue for Grub Hub in 2018, securing its future and enabling the partners to provide more and different activities alongside food.

Waterbeach has hosted a broad range of activities over the year including a fundraising 10km run for a local toddler playgroup. Following the success of last year’s event, we hosted Summer at the Beach, which is run by local artists to showcase their work and engage people in art and cultural activities, as part of the Cambridge Open Studios month of July.

At Rugby we are providing space for community groups in Houlton’s The Barn. Events have included Dollman Dots (church-run play sessions for kids), yoga, pilates, mother and baby yoga and knitting. These community groups are proving integral to the foundation of a vibrant community at Houlton.

We supported Malcolm Hancock to publish his book ‘A History of Rugby Radio Station’ which covers the history of the site. As well as remembering the history of the site, all the proceeds have gone to charity, now raising over £6,500 for Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.



Estimated people reached (2017: 113,050) Community activities (2017: 44)



Download case study PDF


With over 8,000 jobs coming up at Alconbury Campus, learning and skills development is a core priority and during the Festival of Learning we want to demonstrate the positive impact of lifelong learning and encourage more adults to see that it isn’t too late to learn new, potentially life-changing skills. It’s also a fantastic way for the local community to find out more about the new neighbourhood at Alconbury and meet new people whilst participating in fun and informative events
Victoria Denny-Morley
Download case study PDF


New resident's event at Houlton, Rugby.

Charitable activities

We also encourage our staff to donate their time and enthusiasm to charities beyond our site developments. 2017/18 saw a broad range of support for various good causes.

The Catesby team pulled together and walked the 42km Arden Way to raise funds for the Eve Appeal. The walk was in memory of Jayne Manning, a much loved and long-serving member of the Catesby team who passed away this year, and it raised £3,400.

Teams from across Urban&Civic also took part in a charity run raising money for Landaid, with the Catesby team ranking as the fastest team. Five Catesby cyclists rode 50 or 100 miles as part of The Bidwells Golden Triangle Bike Ride for Maggie’s Cancer Centres and a joint team of 11 also pedaled4cancer between the Olympic Stadium in London and Cambridge City Centre.


David Wood and Oluwole Ogunleye approaching the finish line. 

A community taking shape

We are proud of the places and communities we create. With the first residents moving into the Royal Papworth Accommodation blocks at Waterbeach and at Newark, we now have emerging communities at five of our sites.

That does not mean our work is done. We are providing lots of support to these communities as they grow and develop. At Priors Hall, which now has 1,000 occupied properties, we held “A Right Royal Event” summer fête with stalls and live music. The fete was organised with funding from us and housebuilders from across the site and brought people together.

At Rugby, we are working with community leaders to help them establish a residents’ association. The association will enable residents to facilitate and run their own events and amplify their collective voice.

Alconbury welcomed its pioneer minister, who moved in at Easter. With two children at the school he is rapidly becoming part of the community, organising summer trails and events and holding weekly services.

The Ermine Street Church Academy primary school at Alconbury welcomed 100 children in its second year and is continuing to grow.

With pancake races, assemblies and the summer fete, the school is becoming well established in the community. As part of our work to engage housebuilders with the emerging community we are working with Morris Homes and the school to provide a school allotment for the children to develop with Big Barn, which runs a field-to-fork campaign with local children.

To support local demand we are working with local authorities to deliver and open a primary school early at Wintringham and to bring forward the secondary school at Rugby. At Wintringham additional capacity will be provided at an existing school before transferring this over to the new school building once it has been developed.

At Rugby, terms have been agreed with the Department for Education (DfE) that will see Houlton’s secondary school delivered some eight years ahead of the original timetable. Working closely with the DfE and the department’s property company, LocatED, a pioneering funding arrangement is to be put in place that secures the early delivery of the school with reimbursements made by us in line with the section 106 triggers. This approach can herald a new dawn in the way schools are brought forward and is a product of a strong and positive collaboration with the Borough and County Councils, the DfE and Homes England.

CASE STUDY - 1,000th home sale

We have worked closely with Urban&Civic to secure
the future of Priors Hall and the result is an excellent
example of what can be achieved through
collaborative working.
David Acheson
Download case study PDF

case study - SOCIAL MEDIA

Urban&Civic’s social media support has definitely contributed to the enquiries and visitors we have seen at Hansford Park, Houlton. We look forward to continuing our work together, promoting the Houlton and Crest Nicholson brands, by campaigning our events and offers via their social media platforms and the Houlton website which have a strong following.
Chloe Simpson, Marketing Manager, Crest Nicholson
Download case study PDF


Ermine Street Church Academy Allotment opening supported by Morris Homes.