Author Archives: Tony Whitehead

Planning Your Garden: Think Like a Pollinator

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Every food source and habitat provided can help pollinators rebound from the challenges they face. You can provide food and habitat in your garden to help pollinators thrive.

Here are seven ways to make your garden a haven for native pollinators:

  1. Use pollinator-friendly plants in your green spaces. Shrubs and trees such as dogwood, blueberry, cherry, plum, willow, and poplar provide pollen or nectar, or both, early in spring when food is scarce.
  2. Choose a mixture of plants for spring, summer, and autumn. Different flower colours, shapes, and scents will attract a wide variety of pollinators. If you have limited space, you can plant flowers in containers on a patio, balcony, and even window boxes.
  3. Eliminate pesticide use in your green spaces, or incorporate plants that attract beneficial insects for pest control.
  4. Accept some plant damage on plants meant to provide habitat for butterfly and moth larvae.
  5. Provide clean water for pollinators with a shallow dish, bowl, or birdbath with half-submerged stones for perches.
  6. Leave dead tree trunks, in your green spaces for wood-nesting bees and beetles.
  7. Support land conservation in your community by helping to create and maintain community gardens and green spaces to ensure that pollinators have appropriate habitat.

Thanks to Birmingham Open Spaces Forum for the lovely drawing they published in Facebook

LINKS:

Birmingham Open Spaces Forum

National Federation of Parks and Green Spaces

Birmingham Botanical Gardens

Friends Of Sutton Park Association

The recent Place Alliance Housing Audit suggest that when built Langley SUE will be “Mediocre” or “Poor”

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Overview

With the drive to deliver more homes across the country has come a loud call for those developments to be of a high standard of design in order to deliver high quality, liveable and sustainable environments for residents. Research has consistently shown that high quality design makes new residential developments more acceptable to local communities and delivers huge value to all.

Housing design audits represent systematic approaches to assess the design quality of the external residential environment. This new audit by the Place Alliance evaluates the design of 142 large-scale housing-led development projects across England against seventeen design considerations. It provides enough data for comparisons to be made regionally and against the results of previous housing design audits conducted over a decade ago. It establishes a new baseline from which to measure progress on housing design quality in the future.

Whilst some limited progress has been made in some regions, overwhelmingly the message is that the design of new housing environments in England are ‘mediocre’ or ‘poor’. Collectively, we need to significantly raise our game if we are to create the sorts of places that future generations will feel proud to call home.

Findings and Recommendations

Based on a design audit of 142 housing developments across England, and correlations with data on market, contextual and design governance factors, a number of conclusions were drawn. These concern the type of housing that is being delivered, what is going right and wrong, and why there is such a variation in practice across the country.

Follow this LINK to find out more . . .

 

Research National Housing Audit

Parc Hadau Net-Zero Housing Project in Wales

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Continuing our series of Case Studies relevant to the Langley Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE) Parc Hadau is an innovative net-zero-carbon housing scheme in Wales that will be built from cross-laminated timber and be powered by renewable energy. Designed by Loyn & Co and landscape architects Farrer Huxley for Developer Sero Homes, the Parc Hadau neighbourhood comprises 35 eco-friendly dwellings on a scrubland site in Pontardawe.

 

The homes will have a net-zero-embodied-carbon primary structure, use passive design, with renewable energy technologies to generate enough electricity to power the scheme. The residents of Parc Hadau will pay no energy bills because the development will use a mixture of renewable energy technologies to generate enough clean electricity to power its homes over the year. When Parc Hadau needs to draw on electricity from the grid, such as on cold winter nights, Sero will measure the carbon intensity of the imported electricity and later export enough clean energy in return to balance the overall carbon emissions.

  

Sero Homes, which was founded in Wales two years ago, said Parc Hadau provides high-quality, affordable housing through long-term index-linked leases. It will also be the first scheme to meet the UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) definition of net zero carbon by tracking the development’s energy use and carbon emissions in real time.

 

James Williams, the managing director of Sero Homes, said: “The principles underpinning our vision for housing are simple – people’s homes should minimise the harm done to our planet and they shouldn’t cost the earth to run.”

 

Park Hadau is set to begin construction later in 2020, with residents expected to move in during Summer 2021. Once complete, it will comprise 11 two-bed homes, 22 three-bed homes and two four-bed homes, alongside a large communal garden and a community building for both residents and locals

 

Parc Hadau is an example of a small specialist development. There is no reason such types of project, built by smaller building companies, and designed by specialist eco-architectural and landscaping teams, cannot contribute to large SUEs like Langley; and in so doing they will contribute to Birmingham’s policy of securing the highest standards of sustainable design. 

LINKS:

Plans submitted for zero carbon neighbourhood – Parc Hadau

“PARKLINE” . . . could Trams come to Sutton?

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Light Rail has seen unprecedented expansion in the West Midlands. Trams bring many benefits: non-polluting, high capacity, flexible, but as a downside especially in City Centres they are expensive to build. This BLOG explores applying the benefits of Tram Systems to the Sutton Park Line, and make a case for onward assessment of viability and VFM.

2040 Plan for Metro and Rail in the West Midlands: this is a notional Plan prepared by the Elected WM Andy Street’s Office in February 2020 showing a comprehensive rail transport network including a revitalised Sutton Park Line

It seems more likely that pigs would fly than new and expensive Tram lines be brought to Sutton Coldfield. After all Sutton already has an excellent well-used passenger railway the Cross-Town Line, linking to Birmingham City Centre. But there is another railway, the Sutton Park Line which occupies a significant swathe of land from Walsall in the NW to Water Orton in the SE, which with imagination and the application of new technologies could become the West Midland’s own Crossrail. This would be a vastly more economic project than London’s exorbitant and delayed programme, one that would strategically and flexibly link across the fast developing WM transport network. A new “Parkline” if you like.

And whilst there are already aspirations to bring the line into use, including (as illustrated) a 2040 Plan for Metro and Rail in the West Midlands prepared by the Elected WM Andy Street’s Office in February 2020 showing a comprehensive rail transport network including a revitalised Sutton Park Line, what is clear is that this remains an un-programmed long-term objective. Meanwhile the principle of a large new township at Langley comprising up to 6K dwellings has been incorporated in the Birmingham Development Plan (BDP). The absence of a programmed passenger rail-link makes sustainable transport planning for Langley problematic, and increases the strong likelihood, despite the fine words in the BDP, of a fundamentally vehicle-driven township.

Langley has all the makings of a classic dormitory suburb heavily reliant on multiple car use. PARKLINE could offer compelling alternatives for residents.

The benefit of Parkline can be summed up in one word: capacity. The Sutton Park Line linearly occupies a large area of valuable real estate, and moreover acts in a negative way as a physical barrier between the Town Centre and Township expansions along the A38, risking a new Township dislocated from its environs and traditional Centre. Whilst this important infrastructure link does provide a route for occasional freight traffic, there are much greater and more significant passenger capacity benefits to be utilised.

The wide open spaces of the Sutton Park Line in contrast to a typically congested A38, this disparity of capacity makes no sense; surely there is a way to bring the Sutton Park Line into passenger use to the benefit of ALL travellers

And let’s not forget the additional traffic arising out of Langley. Langley is an aspirational suburban township linking directly onto the extensive West Midlands Road Network. Incoming house-owners will most-likely enthusiastically commit to the national trend for bigger and heavier vehicles or SUVs. This will not be fertile ground for changing behaviours away from cars to public transport. Be realistic: it simply will not happen. And new bus routes with – in the short to medium term – diesel powered vehicles, will occupy the same squeezed, polluted and congested highway as all other vehicles. Within easy reach of Langley are Tamworth, Litchfield, Birmingham Airport and (likely) the new Solihull HS2 Station. And whilst the local and under-utilised A38 may have capacity, the onward connections fundamentally do not. Expect severe overloads especially at peak times on Kingsbury Road and links to the M6 and beyond, resulting in intensified vehicle-borne pollution and impaired health and diminished economic efficiency for the WM. This scenario is not a Planning solution. Frankly, it represents an absence of Planning, and significantly does nothing to address the Global Climate Emergency impacting on the WM . . . and meanwhile the Sutton Park Line drifts on as a transport backwater . . .

There is a strong likelihood of a dislocated Langley Township. As a flexible, clean movement system, PARKLINE would reduce this risk

And so, what can be done to shift the moribund Sutton Park Line to a sustainably vital Parkline? The answer quite simply is in thoughtfully applying innovative but tried-and-tested Light Railway battery technology. In China the Nanjing Tram System employs a wireless system, powered by lightweight Li-ion batteries. Batteries are charged via a pantograph at stations and terminals, and dynamically during acceleration. Charging time is reported to be 46 seconds at stations, and 10 minutes at terminals with 90% of the line catenary-free. These figures look impressive, and on this basis, there is great potential to assess the application of Li-ion technology for a catenary-free Sutton Park Line.

A further innovation would be to apply (if proven) “Riding Sunbeams” track-side PV technology to boost the localised power grids at stations and charging points. This would be especially applicable to PARKLINE where much of the route is non-urban with open skies to collect solar.

The starting point of the Hexi Tram line is located at the Nanjing Metro Line 2 Olympic Stadium East Station. The other terminus is located in Hexi, 7.76 kilometers (4.82 mi) away. The Tram stops at a total of 13 stations.

The innovative “Riding Sunbeams” scheme aims to demonstrate that solar can safely bypass the grid to provide a direct supply of energy to Britain’s railway’s traction systems without disrupting train operations – a UK First

There is another advantage: flexibility. Because the Sutton Park Line is freight-only there are no traditional stations requiring expensive adaptation. As with Metro expansion elsewhere in the region, Station infrastructure would be modest and economic, with a short run of pantographs to quick-charge Tram Cars at stations and stops. Significantly Trams could actually leave the existing rail line at key locations to connect directly to local Centres, say: at Walsall or Sutton Town Centres, or Langley Centre or further south at Chelmsley Wood; where, subject to detailed assessments, there is potential to integrate with the eastward Metro expansion through to Birmingham Airport. This is important, because the aim here is not to add to an already congested New Street Station infrastructure, but rather as with Crossrail in London, create and connect to new strategic hubs, in this case the Airport and HS2 Hub in the SE.

In principle battery powered Trams could flexibly descend from the PARKLINE and loop around Town Centres before returning to the pre-existing rail route . . .

And as elsewhere with Metro expansion a revitalised Parkline offers significant economic and regen gains, but ones which compared to the relatively cumbersome and expensive expansion of City Centre light rail infrastructure, would utilise existing track, meaning a potentially higher VFM leverage of benefit to investment.

To conclude, through the pro-active utilisation of new technology, connected by Park & Ride to WM Communities, this proposed extension of the light railway network would help to significantly reduce congestion and vehicle emissions in the West Midlands, whilst at a stroke providing the sustainable rationale for an economically advantageous eastwards expansion at Langley and Peddimore; and one firmly rooted in an expanding, sustainable and integrated movement system.

LINKS:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trams_in_Nanjing

https://www.networkrail.co.uk/stories/pioneering-trial-for-solar-powered-trains

https://www.citymetric.com/transport/mayor-west-midlands-has-released-map-his-15bn-transport-plan-and-it-s-so-so-beautiful-4925

http://www.railtechnologymagazine.com/Rail-News/west-midlands-andy-street-transport-plan?dorewrite=false

Case Study Relevant to Langley / Town Centre: Three Generation House / Amsterdam

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In the Netherlands, as in the UK, until the Second World War, inter-generational living was a common phenomenon. With the advent of the Welfare State in the 60’s and 70’s, it became possible, and common, for families to split up geographically. Evolving political and economic pressures, and a move towards multi-generational and sustainable forms of living, are encouraging Western societies to reconsider this situation. The aim is for generations to once more look out for one another, with a family comprising of two households choose to build a house together. In this example while the younger couple already lives in the city, the Grandparents were keen on moving back to be close to grandchildren as well as convenient urban amenities.

The goal of the project, which was constructed in Amsterdam in 2018, was to create a building where both families could enjoy each other’s company without sacrificing the advantages of private family life. To achieve this, two separate apartments are stacked on top of one another with the only connection being a communal entrance. While the project anticipates a greater dependency of the Grandparents, the immediate advantage of the close proximity of the two families is enjoyed through activities such as running errands, shared social gatherings and the occasional day-care for the children. For this mini-apartment building a concept was devised that would allow the building to accommodate changing spatial demands over time.

The bottom apartment has an office and a direct relationship with the garden, making it ideal for a working family with young children. The elderly couple occupies the top apartment with generous views across the city. This apartment has an elevator, level floors and wider door openings in order to accommodate wheelchairs.

While it does not resemble a home designed for the elderly, the “Lifetime Homes” design anticipates reduced physical ability. Instead of reducing vertical circulation to a necessity, the stair and lift occupy the heart of the building. By placing the vertical access system in the middle of the floorplan, the building is divided into a ‘fore’ and ‘aft’. Either side of the floorplan can be connected to one of two staircases to create a different configuration.

The building is designed with flexibility in mind to facilitate, say, the transfer of space on the second floor. Initially used as a space for guests for the Grandparents’ apartment, the space can be easily adapted and added to the lower apartment with minor adjustments. The position of the double-helix staircase makes it possible to stretch the inter-generational living concept even further. Two studio apartments could be created on the North façade to allow the younger family’s children to live in the building past their adolescence.

Also, the house’s elevations contrast and respond to environmental context: for example, the Northern façade is un-fenestrated to reduce thermal loss and reduce sound exposure along the busy street. Towards the South the building opens up completely, with its glazed façade maximizing passive solar gain and the connection with the outdoors.

In between the two contrasting façades, the building’s plan undergoes a gradual transformation, from compartmentalized in the North, to open-plan and structured with free-form elements towards the South. Here the building is concluded with an informal, filter-like balcony layer.

The remaining structural walls are composed of large format concrete masonry and wrapped in high-grade thermal insulation. Between these walls, bare concrete slabs span the full 8 meters to provide for internal flexibility.

The contemporary utilitarian design might not appeal to all comfort-focused British home dwellers, also the lack of available urban sites could make this type of solution hard to achieve here in the UK, though with imagination existing buildings could be adapted and perhaps combined to create a multi-generational arrangement. It is therefore especially important that new developments like Langley SUE carefully consider all viable multi-generational approaches, both in terms of the overall layout / types of houses, and in the physical design of houses themselves.

LINK:

https://architizer.com/projects/three-generation-house

CREDIT:

Architizer Online Magazine for original text, reedited and amended to suit a UK context.

As we Enter a New Decade: an Update on Langley SUE

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As we approach the start of a new decade this is a perfect time to reflect on the state of play at Langley. Eco Sutton has been developing community responses to the Langley SUE to be sited on recently de-designated green belt on the edge of Sutton Coldfield, and is working closely with the Walmley Residents Consultative Group (WRCG), Birmingham City Council, local MP, the recently constituted Town Council, and other active stakeholders.

We submitted a detailed response to the Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) last October 2018. A positively received idea was to consider establishing a Community Development Trust (CDT) to oversee community aspects of this very large (up to 6000 houses – although this figure appears to be reducing) and impactful development, and the CDT idea was later added to the approved SPD.

We also researched suitable Community Housing Exemplars, and three Case Studies have LINKS to this article. The Group is lobbying Birmingham hard on community aspects as this is an issue of common interest, and in parallel is liaising with the innovative and successful Witton Lodge Community Association based locally in Perry Common. As the Town Planning Authority Birmingham has set a high policy bar for design and sustainability; Eco Sutton’s role with others is to ensure (with evidence) this standard is achieved.

And Sutton DOES have a rich and under-appreciated housing context rooted in the West Midlands Arts and Crafts tradition. Early in 2019 Eco Sutton examined the potential for a Garden Suburb approach, drawing on the Bournville Village Trust and Hampstead Garden Suburb (and other) traditions. A combination of creatively reimagining garden suburb design, low carbon solutions within an ecological landscape, with a multi-generational community ethos, offered great potential for a Langley vision, one that the local community would comprehend.

The Royal Town has a strong tradition in housing design easily capable of reinterpretation.

However, from informal contact made with the Consortium through its consultation and ad-hoc follow-up meetings, significant challenges remain: landscape context, public realm, low-carbon innovation, and design ALL appear (at least from this stakeholder perspective) to need improvement. Langley appears to be a proposal based on MINIMUM required standards, with basic conformity to Building Regulations, Town Planning, Highway and Environmental requirements. In the context of the increasingly high profile of the Global Climate Emergency Langley appears to be a meagre response by any stretch of the imagination!

Volume house builders deliver new houses efficiently and to profit. Generally however these are to Minimum Required NOT The Highest Standards of Sustainable Design.

In terms of process our assumption is that the Planning Authority and its Agents have been engaging with the Development Consortium’s design team, but these discussions are occurring behind closed doors. There has been little attempt at engagement despite the policy commitment to so do. Other than through ad-hoc meetings there has NOT been a sense ‘that local people have played a meaningful role in shaping the development.’ In fact, the two structured consultations (by Birmingham, and by the Consortium) reflect two divergent development approaches.

These architectural examples in the SPD are fantastic “Grand Designs” but do they suit the context, and would local people warm to them?

Birmingham’s SPD was illustrated with some of the brightest metropolitan housing architects, though with less reference to the prevailing suburban context in the Royal Town. Conversely the Consortium’s vision for Langley is of a typical market-led proposal with the site parcelled out to house builders. There is a massive gulf between these two visions, with the local community sitting somewhere awkwardly in the middle.

Sure, there is an ambitious list of supporting provision: schools, sports fields local centre etc; but given this mix it appears very easy indeed for quality and locally driven issues to be eased out of the frame. Meanwhile the movement strategy will rely heavily on the new township’s vehicles disgorging onto an already congested highway network. The conveniently sited Sutton Park Railway Line – in Transport Planning terms surely manna from heaven – is at best an aspiration. Why; when this a viable commuting option linked to Park & Ride should be a MANDATED requirement for a sustainable development?

Consequently, Langley has all the makings sadly of a standard dormitory suburb, dislocated from and disadvantaging its traditional town centre, with an  emphasis on car use and ownership. If this is indeed the case then in no conceivable meaning of the term is Langley “sustainable.”

And yet could there be potential for a positive outcome? Relationships between the parties are good. The Consortium includes the Sutton based Gilmour family, with a housing development track record, and  concerns over legacy. WRCG is well-led and coordinated and could easily provide the nucleus of a CDT. Stakeholders such as Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) obo the Combined Authority / WM Mayor appear responsive, flexible and committed.  And the Town Council has recently commissioned a Masterplan with east-west considerations given to Langley / Peddimore. Meanwhile Birmingham has a strong record in delivering exemplary development and initiatives: Eastside, Paradise and Centenary Square being prime examples. The West Midlands is seriously getting its act together wrt transport and movement infrastructure, Birmingham is a City going places.

A green Langley has the potential to advance this progress. Perhaps the development control process will pull a miraculous new-year Langley rabbit out of the hat! And a reduction in housing numbers and density will lean towards a greener Garden-Suburb solution. Intimations of delay and reconsideration of overall numbers of dwellings would benefit a more modest, community-focused scheme; perhaps using local building companies and supply chains, this in itself helping create a more sustainable local economy. Let’s hope there’s a WIN-WIN-WIN not a depressing fudge and retreat!

Otherwise it’s a long haul for the community that has to live with the consequences to vigorously challenge and seek improvements to an unsatisfactory proposal.

LINKS:

  1. Marmalade Lane Co-Housing  http://www.ecosutton.co.uk/co-housing-a-template-for-sustainable-housing-for-langley
  2. Derwenthorpe Housing York http://www.ecosutton.co.uk/derwenthorpe-case-study
  3. Goldsmith Street Housing Norwich http://www.ecosutton.co.uk/housing-exemplars-relevant-to-langley-sue-energy-efficiency-at-goldsmith-street-norwich

BLOG: Environmental Impact of Construction

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Construction uses vast quantities of cement, steel, copper, plastics, and the actual process of construction itself produces significant CO2.

From 2020 – 2030 embodied carbon in buildings contributes more than normal operating emissions

Rather than build new one method to reduce impact is for an increasing adaptation of existing built infrastructure; though this is not easy as design requirements are often very specific: think of Victorian Terraces, or post-war tower blocks, or Olympic Swimming Pools, or Coal Fired Power Stations for example, Plus, adaptation can be complicated, costly and impactful. It’s not a panacea.

Slipform technique of casting concrete is quick and efficient, but emissions as a result are high. Also concrete buildings are harder to adapt and demolish.

Another green idea is to drastically reduce the use of steel and concrete and instead go back to timber (or other more sustainable materials), but there are downsides, one being increased fire risk. And timber has to be responsibly sourced. Modern day timber is poor quality kiln dried unsuited for UK and other wet climates, so the tendency is to source robust timbers like Western Red Cedar globally which can be harmful and outweigh the benefits.

The Construction industry itself talks about reducing impacts through greater efficiency, systemisation, or just-in-time delivery of materials. But we must be sceptical this is enough! Increased efficiency brings about more construction not greener buildings. It’s becoming increasingly easy to build large and large is where the biggest impacts are. For the future . . maybe there will be a contribution to green construction through the use of 3D printing and robotics? But can technology get us out of the technology fix we’re currently in ?

We should be building out of low-carbon materials at higher densities. for example here is a four-storey multi-family building, which could be built out of materials that store carbon rather than emit it – straw, wood, linoleum, cedar.

Hempcrete is a green building material attracting a lot of interest.

Construction impacts on climate are a big problem. Global growth craves bigger and faster construction. We see this everywhere. To mitigate there must be a greater emphasis in construction-related education / training about green aspects (like the Endeavour Sustainable Building School featured in the tree hugger LINK), not simply reducing operating impacts, but the upfront emissions, and also decommissioning impacts. And construction clients need to be better educated. Clients tend to be the ultimate short termers . . fixed on today’s needs not tomorrow’s.

Depending on specified materials the same building can have widely different emissions.

And fundamentally it all comes down to the way we live and use global resources. What we’re prepared to give up. It’s not pain free.

The Eco Sutton website features greener case examples. But these are more about reduced operating impacts for sure. The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment method (or BREEAM) and other environmental assessment tools do include credits for upfront impacts but overall are skewed more towards in-use impacts.

In fact, assessment tools are likely to be compromised as they sit within the existing industry which inevitably is heavily pragmatic and profit based.

LINK about ways buildings can be carbon sinks instead of carbon sources:

https://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/landmark-study-shows-how-change-building-sector-major-carbon-emitter-major-carbon-sink.html

CREDIT: featured diagrams are taken from the Treehugger Article with thanks.

The term Carbon Use Intensity (CUI): represents a mix of Upfront Carbon Emissions plus (energy use intensity x energy source emissions) = CUI

 

Loudoun Road Case Study

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Continuing Eco Sutton’s Case Study Blogs relevant to sustainable housing for Langley and also in the revitalised Town Centre.

Dating from 2012 this is a ground-breaking residential project pushing forward the boundaries of design to deliver sustainable, low energy homes on a large scale.

Project Details:

Client: Origin Housing Group

Architects Levitt Bernstein

Construction Value: £5m

Completion: 2012

Location: Camden / London

 

The architects Levitt Bernstein were first approached by Origin Housing when they were looking to deliver homes of excellent environmental performance, going further than many other housing providers at the time to prioritise reducing CO2 emissions and energy usage within their developments.

A former builder’s merchant yard was identified next to South Hampstead station on a prominent corner plot, and following our capacity study, Origin went ahead with the purchase. In order for this to be a flagship sustainable project, the architects were tasked with designing a building achieving the key principles of Passivhaus. This would not only radically reduce energy consumption and therefore residents’ bills, but would create appealing, comfortable and easy-to-run homes.

Their challenge was to deliver this very high standard of energy efficiency on a large scale block of apartments, with the knock-on implications on construction methods and detailing that this brings. Passivhaus specialists were brought in at an early stage to ensure that the building could be delivered according to our proposals – giving the designers, the contractor and client the opportunity to learn more about how these principles come together in practice on site – something that had previously not been attempted on this scale in the UK. Crucially, the team has also since returned to the project to check that the building matches up to expectations.

The focus on environmental performance informed all aspects of the design. Walls became thicker to allow the necessary levels of insulation, reflected in deep window reveals; homes are carefully oriented to gather natural warmth from the sun and reduce heating need; fixed shading devices to windows and overhanging balconies help prevent overheating; and an effective air tightness strategy including triple glazed windows.

Importantly, the team wanted to make sure that these energy efficient homes are easy for residents to use. There are no complex controls or restrictions, and they considered practical things such as hanging pictures and shelving. Placing fixings through walls could compromise such an airtight building envelope, but we made adjustments to the build-up to ensure residents were able to do this without affecting airtightness.

In addition to sustainability concerns, the focus was to design a building suited to its context. The prominent corner provided an opportunity for height and the new eight storey tower, agreed by planners on the basis of its design quality, has become a landmark for the area whilst providing a large number of homes and excellent views for the new residents. The building then steps down to four storeys to match the scale of the neighbouring Victorian villas. Brick is used to respect the Conservation Area surroundings – a material not necessarily suited to a Passivhaus building, but, working carefully with the engineers and contractor, they achieved a solution which is important for future schemes in London – a predominantly brick built city.

Links:

https://www.levittbernstein.co.uk/project-stories/loudoun-road

http://www.architecturetoday.co.uk/sustainable-building/

 

Image Credits: Tim Crocker and Clive Smith

Langley SUE_Material to Support Outline Planning Applications (from Final SPD)

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Langley / Info to Support OPAs (from SPD)

   

This Blog is a reminder of the commitment in the approved SPD for supporting information to accompany the OPA’s. As follows:

There will need to be a comprehensive, site- wide outline planning application for all of the allocation, which commits all landowners and developers to the overarching approach for development and infrastructure in a proportional and equitable manner. This will allow the next stage of key requirements and parameters to be set  for the development. The Langley (Sutton Coldfield) Consortium is managed through a legal Collaboration Agreement to bring forward an outline planning application for the site.

An approved comprehensive, site-wide approach needs to be in place before detailed planning applications/proposals on individual sites will be considered positively by the City Council. The southern access point onto the A38 is likely to be subject to an initial and separate planning application as part of the Peddimore proposals, and this will need to demonstrate how it contributes to this comprehensive site-wide approach for the development of Langley SUE.

Key place-making information will need to be submitted with the outline planning application, and detailed schemes will need to show how they fit within the agreed site- wide approach. This includes:

  • Site-wide illustrative masterplan to help all stakeholders to visualise and develop a common understanding of the place that Langley SUE will become.
  • Parameter plans showing the spatial distribution of land uses, maximum building heights, a layout and street hierarchy (primary and secondary), gateways, urban design requirements and green infrastructure, with which future proposals must also comply. These plans must clearly relate to existing site assets and landform.
  • Langley Design Framework setting out the design principles that will guide future development, including residential density, blocks (including edges), parking, built form and appearance of the Neighbourhoods, access and movement, and key public spaces.
  • It should also include the approach to public art. Images should be included to illustrate these principles and how they relate to the overall masterplan (including 3D models, building elevations, street scenes, precedent images, and others as necessary).
  • Design Briefs for specific sites and design codes may be used as an alternative or to support the Framework approach where details are not yet available.
  • Design and Access Statement (DAS), to set out how the proposed development is a suitable response to the site and its setting, and demonstrate that it can be adequately accessed. It should set out the principles underpinning the design and how these have taken on board pre-application consultation and design review. The DAS has a different role to the Framework and could be incorporated within it.
  • Site-wide strategies, including the Delivery and Infrastructure Phasing Plan.
  • An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the site as a whole.

The infrastructure funding strategy will need to be secured through appropriate planning conditions and/or captured in a section 106 agreement(s) and, where costs need to be tested, they will be evaluated using a viability assessment methodology to be agreed with the City Council to ensure transparency and consistency across the whole site. This will take into account relevant legislation, best practice and guidance to secure appropriate contributions from all developers and landowners.

To ensure the approach is fair and equitable, a protocol will be established through the outline planning application, and the Section 106 will set out the method for calculating proportionate contributions based on the proposed use of land. Planning Conditions will be used to ensure that all landowners and developers on the site contribute towards this approach.

Where land is not provided, landowners and developers will need to make contributions (land or funding) to ensure the requirements are provided elsewhere. Affordable housing will be agreed as part of each Reserved Matters application in the context of the approved site-wide approach.

The City Council will establish Planning Performance Agreements (PPA) with developers within which the required project management and decision-making structures will be agreed, coordinated and maintained for the project. It will capture the spatial vision and development objectives along with a project plan, programme and key terms of reference and responsibilities.

Conclusions:

It will be very important to see the level of commitment to Net Zero Carbon impacts in the plans when submitted. This development  is very impactful, and significant mitigation is required. Eco Sutton and other environmental groups must challenge inadequate proposals which comply only with the required minimum standards.

A green approach is implied in the Birmingham Development Plan and Final SPD. This is what must be delivered.

LINKS:

https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/20054/planning_strategies_and_policies/1793/langley_sue_and_peddimore_spds

https://www.worldgbc.org/thecommitment

Photos: are of Derwenthorpe Development York

Foundations for Community Led Housing

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This is a summary of the recently published Report called “Foundations for Community Led Housing”

Although published by the “Future of London” Group for London, this report which contains current Case Study examples, is relevant to other Cities and Towns, including Sutton Coldfield: both Town Centre and Langley SUE.

Over the past decade, community-led housing has risen from relative obscurity to gain attention and growing support from a diverse range of citizens, government and the built environment community. What’s fuelling this interest is clear and that is the pressing need for more affordable homes.

To tackle chronic under-supply, councils have re-entered the market and traditional house-builders are working to accelerate development. But big developers are set up to deliver big schemes and 25% of the sites identified for London’s future housing are under 0.25 hectares.

So bringing smaller builders back into the mix is critical to delivering homes in these smaller spaces. Research from Grosvenor found just 2% of the public trust developers and only 7% trust local authorities when it comes to large-scale development. All levels of government recognise the value of community-led approaches in delivering homes and integrated social value outcomes on complex or contentious sites. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, working with Homes England and the GLA, has identified a potential pipeline of around 16,700 community-led homes across England. In London, community-led housing efforts have access to a £38m funding pot to support delivery; a hub providing technical expertise to groups and authorities; and land is being made available to SME builders. Despite this, projects often falter due to misaligned priorities of groups and landowners and a lack of local authority confidence or sector capacity to support the CLH approach through to delivery.

To help overcome these barriers, Future of London led a major action learning programme throughout 2019, bringing its membership together with community groups to build relationships and support the Mayor’s ambition of 500 starts on new community-led homes by 2023. The project brought together more than 250 people from the public, private and third sectors through interactive workshops and seminars. Their expertise and experience, combined with desk-based research and interviews, forms the basis of this report.

It includes:

• An overview of community-led housing in London and how it is being delivered, covering best practice in partnerships and planning, access to land and funding

• Case studies showing effective ways of delivering projects

• Recommendations for policymakers, CLH groups and built environment practitioners

• Signposting to additional resources

Future of London is grateful to core partners Community Led Housing London, igloo Community Builders and Pollard Thomas Edwards for financial and content contributions and to partners Legal & General and the Bartlett Real Estate Institute for their expertise and support with events.

LINKS:

https://www.futureoflondon.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/delightful-downloads/2019/12/Foundations-for-CLH-report.pdf

igloo Community Builders

CREDITS:

Future of London Group