For those that live in the secure developments, do you find that you experience less crime and generally feel safer living in such a community? Also is there more of a community spirit within these developments?
I feel pretty safe, but we're definitely not devoid of crime. Thieves are incredibly cheeky, and several times have been caught in the act, pretending to be valid residents, or friends of. More than a fair share of bicycles have been stolen from the development.
I do know most of my neighbours however, and we also try to organise a social on occasions.
Crime: not really. Lived in "unsecure" SE1 for a few years previous to our current place and never suffered from any crime then.
Community: definitely not. We scarcely know (or even see) anyone else in our dev't (apart from the bloody noisy students downstairs, about whom I know much more than I ever wanted to, and who IMO have the community spirit of Hitler).
What you will get is a lot of nosiness from invisible people who (under the guise of "Directors"), seem to spend inordinate amounts of time snooping on other residents' business and then leaving laminated signs telling people off - rather than initiating any face to face contact, you understand.
You will also get a lot of inconvenience when you want to get post delivered (because of posties changing their delivery time to the afternoon, they can't get through to our mailboxes as the tradesmen's entry is closed by the afternoon), or when anyone wants to visit you (because you have to go down to open the gates and let them in).
Used to live in the Church Commissioners flats on Union St. Bit of a community feel amongst families but a lot of "professionals" live there who never seem to speak to anyone. We moved out as we noticed a lot of dealers starting to hang around the gardens.
We have been living in a gated community for the last couple of years and although there are downsides some of the upsides definitely compensate for them.
My partner suffered a number of burglaries whilst growing up so has always been very wary of leaving windows open through the night or while we are out, no matter how high we are or how hot it is. Now we feel so much more secure that this is not a problem so I can actually breathe in summer. We do have 24 hour security on top of the gates and although not impossible to reach our flat, we think that thieves would probably look for an easier target rather than get through the gate, a security guard and a further two doors.
Another good point is that because of the security, parcels are always collected, no matter what time they arrive and the same for our shopping although I always try to be home for that one.
Re community feel, I don't feel there is much but I think is mainly down to us not making an effort. Sometimes I get the feeling that everyone wants to be part of a community but not many really know where to start.
Downsides: a vague feeling of living in a highly structured place with rules and regulations. They are necessary to ensure you don't encroach on your neighbours space but it can get a bit stifling. And some of our friends feel that having to get a ticket for the parking is a bit of a palaver.
But I do love our development, it's quite serene and tranquil and different.
A friend of mine lives in such a development and set up a web-site for residents to talk and share common interests/ cocerns/ problems with the development. By all accounts it works very well and they even have the occasional social event.