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August 2020

Improving open spaces across a social housing estate.

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Four of our planning application for environmental improvements have been granted this week – they increase residential amenity and the quality of open spaces within a predominately affordable housing estate located in Caldicot, Monmouthshire. This is particularly timely following lockdown and the greater emphasis on improving outside spaces for health and wellbeing.

We have been working with Element Urbanism for our client Monmouthshire Housing Association (MHA) who are proposing substantial environmental enhancement of four open spaces within the housing estate known as ‘The Views’, located in Caldicot. The designs include the redesign of the community space, new garden boundaries to help encourage social interaction, play, healthy activities, whilst also improving drainage, visual character and biodiversity.

The four communal spaces are heavily enclosed by housing that forms part of the original layout of the estate built some 40 years ago. The potential for amenity use has gradually diminished over the years and the spaces are currently featureless and of poor quality in terms of design and materials. The condition and layout of the hard and soft areas are not conducive to their use by residents and are visually monotonous and unattractive. The garden boundaries fronting the space generally comprise low trip-rails and are in poor condition.

As a central component of the design process, we have worked with MHA to involve the tenants and private residents to identify and agree with the nature of the improvements.

The proposals include new cross-route across the spaces to allow more convenient access, resurfaced high-quality lawns and new multi-functional low walls that can be used for seating, play and as a distinctive design feature. The spaces will also include boulders to allow informal opportunities for seating and active play. The landscape proposals include a SuDS surface water drainage scheme that will integrate with the overall aesthetic of the proposals. Swales will retain surface water at, or near, surface-level and will form ‘rain-gardens’ supporting a diverse planting. These areas will connect with adjacent proposed areas of lawn, wild-flower, shrub, and tree planting.  Species have been selected for both their suitability to thrive in the prevailing site conditions, seasonal interest, and their enhancement of biodiversity through the provision of habitats, food, and pollen.

Regarding sustainability, health and wellbeing, the primary objective of the project is to ensure long-term improvement in quality and amenity of an existing area of predominantly affordable housing.

Owen Davies Consulting has over a decades experience working with RSL’s to audit, masterplan, design and deliver their estate renewal and regeneration programmes and would love to hear about your next housing project. Please drop Owen a line.

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