Temperatures are creeping up, the mornings and evenings are getting brighter and there is a smattering of colour in garden – spring is on the way!
For us, like many others, the past year has been challenging in many ways. A large part of this has involved finding new ways to do things that remained quite physical until a year ago – from site visits and public consultations to the most commonplace of activities such as marking a plan, issuing a sketch or pinning up a drawing for discussion.
Technology has been a saviour. However, the past year has also shown that there is no substitute for human contact and ultimately, that people need to be around people. We will need to keep this in mind when we look ahead to the challenge of repairing embattled high streets and town centres.
Fortunately, we have been kept busy with a variety of projects and this post provides an opportunity to share a few of these.
Continuing from the previous year, we have been working on a place shaping strategy for Biggleswade, a traditional market town in Bedfordshire. Strategically located between London, Cambridge and Bedford, Biggleswade has been identified as a hub for growth and the strategy will assist in guiding this in a unified and sustainable manner.
At Foxholes in Hitchin, we have been working with the care team and EHW to develop a model for a more holistic care offering that is based on fostering a close connection with nature and a strong sense of community. This follows the successful approach of pioneering operations in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Canada and Ireland and would be tailored to fit the specifics of the site and the local context.
A mid-summer gap between lockdowns provided the opportunity to visit the location for a town centre visioning and public realm design study in West Sussex, which is being undertaken with Hampshire based The terra firma Consultancy and Planning Solutions.
With a focus on residential, we recently secured consents for brownfield sites in Dacorum for Gade Homes and in East Herts with Fleming Homes, which have both required a particularly sensitive approach to building massing, arrangement and treatment. We are currently working on developments of between 9 and 115 dwellings from the West Midlands to the South East as the basis for the submission of applications later this year.
Overseas, we completed a comprehensive development control package for an exciting waterfront development in Nigeria and look forward to seeing this progress on site once the situation permits it.
On a personal note, I prepared two articles for the spring and summer editions of PBC Today. Titled, ‘Can we build the way out of this?’, these considered the impact of the pandemic and subsequent Government initiatives on the construction sector. Little did we know that each of these aspects would still be relevant almost a year later. Links to both articles are included below;
The break between lockdowns also allowed the opportunity to visit and review a very interesting new settlement in Bedfordshire for Placemaking Resource. Here is a link to this (subscription required);
In other news, we are currently refreshing the website (with a slight twist!) and look forward to being able to share more about this later in the year!
By David Edwards