Category Archives: Community Planning

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

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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. 


Plans submitted for zero carbon neighbourhood – Parc Hadau

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.



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.


  1. Marmalade Lane Co-Housing
  2. Derwenthorpe Housing York
  3. Goldsmith Street Housing Norwich

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.



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.


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.


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.


igloo Community Builders


Future of London Group


A Royal Town Sustainable Housing Model

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A Royal Town Sustainable Housing Model 

The aim of this blog is to look at a viable proposal for sustainable housing to help revitalise the Town Centre. New housing would replace outdated shops and multi-storey car parks like the Red Rose Centre with residents living, working and shopping in the Town. The vision is to harness Sutton’s excellent facilities and public transport connectivity to build genuine long term sustainable multi-generational communities.

What would these communities look like? 

The idea is to consider combining two innovative models: firstly the Community Land Trust (CLT) model. CLT homes are a way of providing genuinely and permanently affordable new homes either for rent or low-cost ownership. They can be used to address the growing gap between people who qualify for social housing and people who can afford to buy their own home. Crucially they feature a resale price covenant when occupants buy, so that if they sell, they can only sell at a price linked to median incomes again, so the homes remain affordable for generations to come.

The other model would be Cohousing: Cohousing communities are created and run by their residents. Each household has a self-contained, private home as well as shared community space /facilities. Residents come together to manage their community and share activities. Cohousing Development in Sutton would be primarily aimed at starters, perhaps with shared equity or shared ownership linked to the Cohousing Concept. But it might also be aimed at, say, seniors looking at a shared community means of living. In combination both the CLT and Cohousing models would consciously look at broadening wider demographic and multigenerational housing opportunities within the locality, both integral to the Centre development but also to other commercial and community housing in the Royal Town. At the outset this is a means to strengthen communities through broadened demographics and strengthened economic vitality.

How would the housing models fit together?

Both the CLT and Cohousing elements would be carefully and invisibly integrated within the model development. The buildings themselves would be highly sustainable in terms of energy use and carbon impacts: for example using the Passivhaus system of high insulation, and heat recovery. Green Elements such as generous balconies, roof gardens / allotments would help make the urban development distinctively green. And the cost of occupation would be low.

Integral to the development would be shared community facilities. Some would be for residents, such as crèches, communal ‘Great Hall’ spaces, laundry, sacred and/or community spaces etc, others would belong more widely to Royal Town Residents: a new ground floor Library, Town Council Offices, local archive / museum, public spaces and walkways, cycle sale and repair etc

How would this model be delivered and managed? 

A shared Community ethos is critical for success, and so a Community Development Trust (CDT) would be established to scope, design, develop, and oversee the estate management. The CDT would be partnership-based with reps from the Town Council, City Council and Community allied with Community Developer / Landlord, with ethical funding and financial oversight. Occupiers would collectively contribute and agree how the model is managed.

Examples of places where this has happened?


Our Case Study of Marmalade Lane Cohousing in Cambridge can be found at:


Our Case Study of Brasted Close CLT can be found at:

Case Study Summary

Rather than wholly relying on market delivery, this model is very much about communities taking control, with a broader mix of market and community-led development and a strong underlying ethos. The Town Council would initially be the visionary and enabler, later the more complex financing delivery and management would be owned by the CDT, occupiers and Royal Town Community.

Images from other relevant Eco Sutton Community Planning Case Studies:


CLT Case Study: Brasted Close

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Continuing our series of Case Studies relevant to Langley SUE and also models for new community housing in the Royal Town Centre.

Initiated by the local community, Brasted Close is a modest development of 11 new homes to be built on a garage site in Sydenham and existing residents will be involved in the process. The homes will be genuinely affordable and protected in perpetuity.  

Number of homes 11 genuinely affordable homes
Location Sydenham
Stage Planning permission granted 2019

How they formed

Lewisham Citizens, part of the Citizens UK charity, held an assembly with 400 people before the local elections in 2014 and persuaded the then Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, to work with local people to deliver Community Land Trust homes in the borough. After extensive community site walks and a local membership drive, Lewisham Citizens brought in London CLT to discuss specific potential sites with the Council. They also engaged with residents and neighbours, and gradually built up a Residents Steering Committee to help with the plans.


Having considered a report to Mayor and Cabinet in 2016, the council agreed that a small area to the rear of the Brasted Close estate should be declared surplus to the Council’s requirements and that officers work with London CLT for a period of twelve months to develop a fully affordable housing scheme for the site. Out of the 17 garages on the site, only 4 were let to residents of the estate. The Council wrote to all garage tenants advising them of the proposal and informing them of other garage locations. Given the proximity of the site to secure tenants, the council also carried out a statutory S105 consultation about the potential sale of the site to build new homes. In addition to the statutory consultation, officers also wrote to leaseholders on the estate. There was only one respondent expressed concern which the designs seek to address.


Community Land Trusts (CLTs) are a way of providing genuinely and permanently affordable new homes either for rent or low-cost ownership. They can be used to address the growing gap between people who qualify for social housing and people who can afford to buy their own home.

The CLT homes at Brasted Close will be for sale, priced according to local earnings, ensuring that local people are able to live in the local area. ‘Local earnings’ are taken as the average of median incomes using data published by the Office for National Statistics. Based on 2016 figures, the estimated price of a CLT home is around 40-50% of the full market value in the area. Although the scheme is receiving some grant funding from the GLA, these values are primarily achieved because the land value is effectively locked in to the Trust in perpetuity through resale price covenants in individual leases, and governance mechanisms to ensure these are not varied.


Lewisham Citizens held open meetings in late summer 2016 to discuss aspirations and fears about the scheme and to set the criteria for selecting architects. Several architects presented to residents at a ‘pick the architect’ event in September 2016. Residents chose Archio as their preferred architects. Archio spoke to residents on site to begin the design process. Approximately 30 residents and 48 students and staff from the neighbouring school attended. The community engagement has allowed Archio to develop a scheme addressing the key concerns raised by residents around pedestrian access, overlooking, height, privacy and parking. Planning permission for Brasted Close was granted in April 2019.

Who will live there

It is anticipated that the homes will be very popular. A clear allocations policy will be developed with the council focused around:

  • Those priced out of the housing market but able to afford a London CLT home
  • Those require a property more suitable than their current accommodation
  • Those with a minimum of five years’ connection to the borough
  • Those who belong to and participate in the local community
  • Members of London CLT

Resale Price Covenant

All residents sign a resale price covenant when they buy, so that if they sell, they can only sell at a price linked to median incomes again, so the homes remain affordable for generations to come.


Swedish New Town Hammarby Sjöstad as a Model for Sutton Coldfield

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An annotated panoramic photo of Hammarby Sjöstad New Town showing a principal Boulevard

Hammarby Sjöstad (roughly translated: Hammarby Lake City) is a part of the inner city of Stockholm located on both sides of Lake Hammarby Sjisö which has undergone major urban redevelopment. When concluded, there will be 11,000 mixed-use homes designed so that whilst people live on the upper floors at street level there is every amenity a thriving city neighbourhood should have; a bustling mix of shops, grocery stores, bars, restaurants, cafés, bakeries, florists and gyms – anything you want, you’ll find here, including a number of schools, one of which is an important international school.

Hammarby Sjöstad is easy to reach; by bus, tram, free ferry or on foot (it’s just a short walk from Södermalm proper), and like Sutton Coldfield it features many green areas, including the Nacka Nature Reserve (similar but larger than Sutton Park). The scheme features renovated quays and walkways along the water.

The design is intentionally semi-urban rather than suburban, with distinctive green boulevards and waterfront ideally suited for strolling and busy with people day and night. The architecture is bright, simple and modern, with the focus on sustainable materials such as glass, wood, steel and stone. Motor vehicles are tucked neatly behind the main pedestrianized boulevards where they are conveniently accessible; an arrangement which could be replicated in Sutton with parking bays and bus lanes better integrated into the circulatory Loop system around the Town Centre.

Right from the start, the city imposed strict environmental requirements on all aspects of the built environment and transport. It is claimed that the entire environmental concept will halve the total impact so that Hammarby Sjöstad will be twice as eco-friendly as normal built development.

Details of the Urban Realm to Hammarby Sjöstad

Relevant lessons for Sutton Coldfield are:

  • Lively boulevards (rather like the Parade) with a range of commercial and community uses, with people living on upper floors
  • A fully integrated green movement strategy with considerably less reliance on motor vehicles ensuring connectivity is very good
  • Primary and secondary circulation where motor vehicles are tucked away on less prominent roads but with easy access to homes and businesses
  • Connection to water . . and whilst Sutton is not located alongside open water . . it would be perfectly feasible to open up the buried Plants Brook as a special feature in the renewal of the Town Centre whilst acknowledging the historic meadow and mill pool in this low-lying part of the Town
  • AND finally planning . . rather than reliance on market delivery and retail Hammarby Sjöstad demostrates by example how hands-on strategic planning can successfully balance community and business needs to create a vibrant and sustainable community

In conclusion while it may seem wishful thinking to compare our Town Centre to a Scandinavian Eco Town . . some of the basic planning principles and eco pedestrain-friendly approach of Hammarby Sjöstad can be seen to point in a positive way to a practical rethink where living, working and movement all fit neatly together.

Comparison of Hammarby Sjöstad and Sutton Coldfield Plans with the proposed DOG POUND CLOISTER Quarter