The first stage of our programme for Spring Gardens / Bishops Walk was to hold a workshop where community ideas could be gathered and best practice could be shared.
The session involved presentations, site visits and workshops including a SWOT analysis that formed the basis of the site analysis.
Also included were examples of best practice from elsewhere to serve as inspiration as to what is possible. Initially the focus was big box retail but as we shall see this soon changed to a mixed scheme with a better balance of uses.
<div style=”width:425px” id=”__ss_10911707″> <strong style=”display:block;margin:12px 0 4px”><a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/transformplaces/tewkesbury-examples” title=”Tewkesbury examples” target=”_blank”>Tewkesbury examples</a></strong> <iframe src=”http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/10911707″ width=”425″ height=”355″ frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no”></iframe> <div style=”padding:5px 0 12px”> View more <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/” target=”_blank”>presentations</a> from <a href=”http://www.slideshare.net/transformplaces” target=”_blank”>transformplaces</a> </div> </div>
TransForm Places were invited to help WNDC in developing a vision for an important part of Northampton, the area near the waterside that formerly housed the Avon building and other industrial uses but which is intended to become an important residential area with other uses that will expand the town centre.
The area is already subject to various masterplans and visions brought forward independently by developers and landowners and there is a need to bring these together in a coherent plan that not only delivers commercial aspirations but that supports Northampton’s town centre and waterside areas.
Our role was to review the existing masterplanning work, and along with WNDC excellent in-house urban design team we identified the areas of agreement and the areas of conflict. This allowed us to focus the design team effort in the right places. Also, this first step was critical in establishing common ground between the various stakeholder.
Later work involved developing a shared design approach between stakeholders so that the finished project would together deliver on their objectives and so that each development phase would support those adjacent.
Priors Hall is an urban extension on the outskirts of Corby, Northamptonshire. The developers are working closely with the North Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit (NNJPU) to deliver over 5,000 new homes, with supporting uses such as schools, shops and open space. The developers took the posisitve step of producing a design code and the code-writers stayed on a design champion to ensure that it delivered on the vision.
Our role was to help assess the design decisions against not only the details of the code but of the wider aspirations for the site, taking into account national guidance and best practice. Regular stakeholder meetings and design workshops were held and the results from this work were changes to the design that lead to improvements on the ground. So successful were these interventions that the lessons from this early work have led to changes for future phases, and the outcome is an unmitigated commercial success.
Northamptonshire Borough Council approached TransForm Places to help them develop a study to define character areas in the town centre and the to use this work to develop a tall buildings strategy. The finished work was to become adopted council policy, forming part of the LDF and setting the design framework for future policy initiatives.
We started by working with the council policy team, assessing the state of their current evidence base and seeing which bits of this could help with any future documents. We then began defining our terms, setting the framework for a project brief that could be sent out to tender. The approach we adopted differed from those in the past in that we decided not to try and cover the whole town centre. Rather, we used ‘street segments’ that were special and memorable and defined these as places for special policy intervention; other areas were adequately covered by existing policies and could be left out.
The use of street segments naturally gave rise to framework for the setting and locations for potential tall buildings, and the next discussion was to define a tall building the context of Northampton town centre. Once this work was completed, we worked with the policy team to develop a brief for consultants. We also developed a scoring matrix that allowed the team to assess tender submissions. Shortlisted consultants were then interviewed by the policy team to TransForm Places in attendance. The finished document can be found here.
This exciting approach will serve as the model for the rest of the sub-region and beyond, paving the way for a more place based approach to planning policy and ensuring that the design agenda is at the very top of the priorities list.
We are able to bring both our design and policy experience to the table, helping to ensure that not only is the correct process undertaken, but that the outcomes meet the aspirations of everyone involved. Be it design coding, masterplanning, policy formulation, or enabling, the TransForm team can help.
TransForm Places is committed to raising design quality, and this means working with all sectors responsible for delivering built environment projects. Barwood Land and Estates Ltd approached us to help work on their design and access statement, drawing on our placemaking skills to help them articulate the processes that they have gone through in putting their development proposal together. Working with the design team, TransForm Places worked through the proposal, examining the prompts and steps that lead to the masterplan, and helped to develop a clear and well articulated explanation of the design and put this in to the design and access statement.
TransForm Places can bring our knowledge and experience to the table, meaning that we can guide design teams, act as ‘critical friend’, and advise on how to improve schemes. This translates to better value, streamlined planning, and a high quality end product.
TransForm Places is helping to deliver training sessions on the Place and Movement Guide to spread best practice and to raise awareness on this exciting new initiative. The PaM Guide places emphasis on the importance of collaborative working and coordinated decision-making, as well as on the value of strong leadership and a clear vision of design quality at the local level. The guide also supports the MfS policy of using the environment to influence driver behaviour rather then just standard set criteria. The guide encourages applicants to use a Quality Audit process to show how a design led layout would work rather than sticking to set criteria, which may then lead to a poor sense of place; MfS provides an outline on how this can be done effectively. TransForm Places supports this through workshops, advice, training, and seminars.