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- Embracing Blue and Green Infrastructure: Enhancing Communities within the Built Environment
Dean Cadby, SPD Studio's managing director and self-proclaimed Urbanist gives his thoughts on the importance of Blue and Green Infrastructure in the built environment. In the realm of urban development and community planning, the significance of blue and green infrastructure in the built environment cannot be overstated. As settlements expand and urbanisation accelerates, integrating elements of nature into our developments becomes pivotal. Blue infrastructure, encompassing water bodies and systems, along with green infrastructure, including parks, gardens, and green spaces, hold immense value beyond their aesthetic appeal. They play a transformative role in fostering resilient, sustainable, and liveable communities while nurturing a profound sense of place-making. The concept of blue infrastructure refers to the networks of water resources, such as rivers, lakes, wetlands, and stormwater management systems. These elements not only contribute to environmental sustainability by managing water flow and quality but also provide invaluable recreational and aesthetic benefits. Incorporating blue infrastructure into urban planning not only mitigates flooding risks and enhances water quality but also creates spaces for community gathering, recreation, and relaxation. Camden Highline Vision Consider the revitalization of riverfronts or waterfront developments in various cities and town worldwide. These areas, once neglected or industrialised, have been transformed into vibrant public spaces, attracting residents and tourists alike. The Camden Line in London, a repurposed elevated railway track turned into a greenway, or proposed regeneration of Thamesmead exemplify how reimagining water bodies can invigorate communities, fostering social interaction, and boosting economic growth. Project Oranges vision for Thamesmead -Grey to Green Vision Similarly, green infrastructure plays a pivotal role in enhancing the urban environment. Parks, green roofs, community gardens, and street trees contribute significantly to mitigating the urban heat island effect, improving air quality, and providing habitats for biodiversity. These green spaces act as lungs for cities, absorbing carbon dioxide and purifying the air, thus promoting public health and well-being. The impact of green infrastructure extends far beyond environmental benefits. Accessible and well-designed green spaces encourage physical activity, reduce stress, and foster a sense of community belonging. They serve as meeting points for diverse populations, transcending social barriers and creating inclusive environments. When people feel connected to their surroundings, a stronger sense of ownership and responsibility for their community develops, leading to a more engaged and resilient society. Similarly, green infrastructure plays a pivotal role in enhancing the urban environment. Parks, green roofs, community gardens, and street trees contribute significantly to mitigating the urban heat island effect, improving air quality, and providing habitats for biodiversity. These green spaces act as lungs for cities, absorbing carbon dioxide and purifying the air, thus promoting public health and well-being. The impact of green infrastructure extends far beyond environmental benefits. Accessible and well-designed green spaces encourage physical activity, reduce stress, and foster a sense of community belonging. They serve as meeting points for diverse populations, transcending social barriers and creating inclusive environments. When people feel connected to their surroundings, a stronger sense of ownership and responsibility for their community develops, leading to a more engaged and resilient society. Moreover, the integration of blue and green infrastructure contributes significantly to place-making—the process of creating spaces that reflect and strengthen a community's identity. These elements evoke a sense of local history, culture, and ecology, weaving narratives that connect residents to their surroundings. When a city incorporates natural features and landscapes into its fabric, it adds depth and character, distinguishing it from cookie-cutter urban developments. Hammarby, Sweden where a thriving community resides in a blue environment. Successful place-making through blue and green infrastructure involves community engagement and participatory planning. Collaborative efforts that involve residents, stakeholders, and urban planners can ensure that these spaces reflect the unique identity and needs of the community. By integrating local stories, traditions, and aspirations into the design process, these spaces become more than just physical landscapes—they become emotional anchors that instill a sense of pride and attachment among residents. Additionally, the economic value of blue and green infrastructure should not be underestimated. Studies consistently show that properties near green spaces or water bodies command higher values and experience increased demand. Beyond property values, these spaces drive tourism, support local businesses, and stimulate economic activities. Town and communities that invest in blue and green infrastructure not only improve the quality of life for residents but also attract investment and talent, fostering long-term sustainable growth. However, the realisation of blue and green infrastructure in the built environment requires sustained commitment and investment. Challenges such as limited space, competing interests in land use, and budget constraints often hinder their implementation. Moreover, ensuring equitable distribution and access to these amenities across socio-economic boundaries remains a critical challenge that needs to be addressed. In the face of escalating climate change, the integration of blue and green infrastructure stands as a pivotal solution for communities striving to adapt and fortify against its impacts. Blue infrastructure, encompassing water bodies and systems, and green infrastructure, incorporating natural elements like pocket forests, wetlands, and green spaces, offer multifaceted resilience to the challenges posed by a changing climate. Water-centric adversities like more frequent heavy rainfall events, intensified storms, and droughts necessitate innovative approaches. Blue infrastructure components such as strategically designed pocket forests, restored wetlands, and stormwater management systems aid in mitigating flooding risks and shoreline erosion. Constructing artificial reefs or restoring natural ones not only bolsters marine ecosystems but also acts as a buffer against storm surges, shielding coastal areas from devastation. Moreover, green infrastructure plays a pivotal role in climate adaptation. Trees and vegetation serve as natural shields, mitigating heat island effects prevalent in urban areas while enhancing air quality. Permeable surfaces, green roofs, and rain gardens facilitate water absorption and filtration, reducing the strain on drainage systems during heavy rainfall and mitigating urban flooding. In conclusion, the incorporation of blue and green infrastructure into the built environment is not merely a matter of aesthetics—it is a fundamental pillar of sustainable urban development. These elements offer multifaceted benefits, ranging from environmental sustainability and public health to social cohesion and economic prosperity. By embracing these natural assets and integrating them thoughtfully into urban landscapes, cities can truly thrive as resilient, inclusive, and vibrant communities, fostering a profound sense of place-making for generations to come.
- Celebrating Our Studio's Excellence: Josephine-the Creative Force
We are excited to announce our new addition to the studio, Josephine Harkins RIBA. As an accomplished architect, interior designer, and artist, Josephine has over three decades of experience, displaying a remarkable ability to transform clients' thoughts and aspirations into captivating and inspiring built environments. Since joining our studio in July, Jo has led the initial feasibility stages of various projects, expressing her exceptional talent for freehand sketching concept designs to bring the vision to life! Her passion for architecture and interior design and unique talent make her an indispensable asset to our studio and clients. The Artistry -image While having an exceptional talent for designing beautiful aesthetics and designs, what sets Josephine apart is her ability to truly listen, understand, and fulfil our client's visions, objectives, and goals. Josephine believes architecture should be a visual delight and resonate with the client's ambience, emotions, goals, and character. Her designs are a testament to her deep understanding of this philosophy. Architecture as an Experience -image Josephine's perspective on architecture is refreshing and enlightening. She firmly believes that architecture should be a source of pleasure for everyone involved in the process - the architect, the client, and the builder. For her, every project is an opportunity to craft an experience that brings joy and respect to all stakeholders. This approach has not only led to the creation of stunning architectural masterpieces. Still, it has brought to light the creative force we celebrate at the studio and provides a sense of collaboration and satisfaction among the project team. Beyond the Studio -image While Josephine's professional life is filled with artistic pursuits, her interests are equally engaging. She treasures spending quality time with her family and beloved dogs outside work. Her passion for art extends to her family, as she enjoys creating portraits of her loved ones when they grant her the privilege. In the words of Josephine herself, 'Architecture is a pleasure to be enjoyed by both Architect, Client, and Builder. Project making should be an experience of joy and respect.' We couldn't agree more and are excited to have her as an integral part of our team.
- Have you considered self-build and custom housebuilding when developing your site?
With the increasing demand for housing in the UK and lack of supply in terms of available land and houses, it is understandable why home buyers and developers are seeking alternative approaches to house construction and securing planning permission to develop a site. The traditional housing supply relies upon decision-making between a developer and the local planning authority, resulting in policy-compliant houses, but is this what buyers want? And with the increasingly limited supply of available sites to develop, what can developers use to their advantage in the planning process? Introducing - self-build and custom housebuilding. Could this be the saviour of home buyers and developers in the UK? This article focuses on the legislative position, definitions and planning position for self-build and custom housebuilding to inform your approach to selecting a plot of land and developing a site. The legislation The self-build and custom housebuilding act was adopted in 2015, later amended by the Housing and Planning Act in 2016, requiring the relevant authorities (including Local Planning Authorities (LPA)) to maintain a register of individuals or associations that are interested in self-build and custom housebuilding in their locality. This register provides a valuable tool to understand the demand vs supply, which across the board has seen a consistent rise in demand, but varying provision of supply. However, with LPAs starting to adopt local policies specific to self-build and custom housebuilding, this could be set to change. What is the difference between self-build and custom building? Whilst there is no legislative requirement to differentiate between the two forms of development, as the two can be summarised as a house constructed according to the future occupant's design and requirements, it is helpful to understand the differences. Self-build enables a higher degree of individualism in the design and the construction process, limited only by the statutory requirements relating to the LPA, insurers or mortgage lenders, resulting in a higher risk to the buyer. Custom housebuilding, in contrast, is lower risk whereby a developer, contractor or landowner takes on part of the development along three routes: 1. Turnkey, where the buyer selects from a list of design choices, and it is constructed to that specification, 2. A shell, where a developer will build the external shell of the building, leaving the internal design to the buyer and 3. A serviced plot, where the services (e.g. road connection, electricity supply etc.) are installed on a plot, but the design of the house is left to the buyer, within set design parameters. However, it is essential to note that both of the above require planning permission from the relevant authority. The planning position Where planning permission is required, as well as enabling design input from the future occupier, self-build and custom housebuilding can also assist in the planning balance. The NPPG clearly states that an LPA must consider the self-build and custom housebuilding register, making it a material planning consideration. Whilst this has not significantly impacted decision-making across the board, varying positive weight has been attached to this in Inspectors' decisions. Examples of this include appeal APP/Z1510/W/22/3305099, allowed in Braintree, where the provision of five self-build/ custom housebuilding plots was given significant positive weight due to a shortfall in supply in the local register. Additionally, appeal APP/W3520/W/23/3316136 in Suffolk was allowed based on a significant under-provision of available plots compared to an increasing demand from individuals, resulting in significant weight being attached to the proposed nine self-build/ custom housebuilding plots. However, this is not always the case, as evidenced in a recent appeal in Warwickshire (reference- APP/F2415/W/22/3312699), where, despite significant weight being attached to the provision of 7 self-build plots, this did not outweigh the significant harm identified to the character and appearance of the area. Considering the above, the addition of self-build and custom housebuilding into the development of a site will not enable development on all sites; put simply it will not be an automatic approval. However, it does enable a degree of design input from a future occupier, which is often rare in medium to large site developments, and it should be a consideration where local needs have not been met, which can play significantly in favour of achieving planning permission for a site, for house and plot buyers, as well as land developers. In light of this, SPD Studio has provided planning support on projects that either focus on or include an element of self-build and custom housebuilding. As the individual characteristics of a site, such as the location of the site and the position of the LPA in respect of their self-build and custom housebuilding register, play a crucial role in the provision of self-build and custom housebuilding sites, SPD Studio provides an appraisal process to understand the potential of a site from self-build potential to the principle of development. In addition to appraisals, we offer planning, architectural and engineering support for pre-application, formal submission and technical design. If these services are of interest, please get in touch.
- Projects | SPD Studio
Our Projects Abbey Corner, Colchester AFFORDABLE HOUSING HYLO Tower, London STRUCTURAL INTERIOR Braiswick, Colchester RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT Silverstone COMMERCIAL RENEWABLES Rolleston GROUNDMOUNT RENEWABLES The Lindens, Gosfield RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT Gladwins Lodge MODULAR BUILD Hatton GROUNDMOUNT RENEWABLES Castle Camps, Cambridgeshire RESIDENTIAL HOUSING Unit 18 Freebournes COMMERCIAL/ INDUSTRIAL Warrington COMMERCIAL RENEWABLES Let's work together We’re always looking for new opportunities. Please get in touch and one of our project managers will contact you about beginning the proposal process. Connect with one of Our Team Get Started
- Gladwins Farm | SPD Studio
Gladwin Farm Lodge Susan Bradshaw, Gladwins Farm "It was a pleasure working alongside SPD Studio, they understood the brief perfectly and the lodges have settled into the current surroundings beautifully. SPDS were efficient and professional and we look forward to working with them in the future." Bespoke Cottages Designing Holly lodge and providing desi support
- Contact | SPD Studio
Contact Us Please provide some information on your project or goals and one of our professional team will be in contact. Further case studies available upon request. New Project Enquiry View policies Opening Hours Mon - Fri 8:30 am – 5:30 pm Unit 1&2, Tollgate Business Park, Stanway Colchester, Essex. CO3 8AB email@example.com 01206 265224