We seek to craft vibrant developments that are embraced by their neighbours as well as the people that come to live, work and/or socialise there. This involves active stakeholder engagement, job creation and economic growth, a focus on efficient design, the environment and sustainability and transport initiatives. Some recent examples include:
Alongside the full range of community consultation events, such as those described for Waterbeach on page 48, we have sought out a series of projects to support and engage specific groups in the process of development and the history of the sites, and we have even re‑established transatlantic connections.
Offering local children the opportunity to explore and learn about where they live is exciting, but offering them the chance to shape and create it is the really exciting part. Given Rugby’s transatlantic connections, we also wanted to reach out to the community of Houlton in Maine, which was the receiving station for Rugby’s transmissions to North America. Our team went over to Houlton and met representatives of the civic, historical and educational institutions of the town and we have a whole series of events planned for 2017, which will help forge new connections between these two places.
These include celebrating the 90th anniversary of the first regular transatlantic phone service in January and a joint school project on the history of telecommunications.
At Alconbury Weald, working with theatre company New International Encounter we developed a project for young people to get involved in a range of cultural projects about the Cold War, which culminated in a three-night production over the summer, an arts display, and the opening up of the listed avionics building for English Heritage’s annual heritage open days. The events were booked out and building 210, often referred to as “Magic Mountain”, was opened up for the first time to the general public. Designed to withstand a direct nuclear attack, the building was created to safely process the photography from U2 spy plane reconnaissance missions in the late 1980s. Completed in 1988 and redundant in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is packed with symbolism of the Cold War period and is an emblem of the American presence in the area post-Second World War. It’s both an inspiring and stark reminder of global politics and certainly left an impression on everyone that visited it.
Job creation and economic growth
At Alconbury Weald, 2016 saw the first full operational year of the innovative jobs and skills partnerships – EDGE – founded by Urban&Civic and working with local partners including the Jobcentre, training providers, careers advice services and local authorities.
Based in Huntingdon Town Centre, the EDGE team acts as a jobs and skills brokerage between Alconbury Weald businesses and contractors and local people looking for work. All construction contractors employed by Urban&Civic on site are part of the CITB National Skills Academy for Construction framework, which mandates them to support local employment, careers aspiration and to invest in training, through EDGE.
To date EDGE has put over 70 local people into work or training, with 53 in employment, 11 in further training to make them job ready and eight in apprenticeship schemes. The team has also laid on a number of events including:
- the annual schools careers fair, which brings 800 students together with 80 businesses. This year the focus was on construction and engineering with the Urban&Civic team being joined by the companies delivering the £1.5 billion investment in the A14 upgrade;
- as part of National Apprenticeship Week, EDGE held a sign-up day, seeing over 100 people and securing a range of apprentice opportunities, including for on-site contractor Breheny; and
- in July, EDGE and Urban&Civic partnered with the environmental charity Groundwork to organise a green team project, in which six young volunteers spruced up various sites in Huntingdonshire while gaining valuable practical experience and qualifications to help boost their job prospects. Breheny has since taken on two of the participants on a work trial.
With housebuilding underway, iMET locating in the Enterprise Zone and significant employment space under construction, we anticipate that the impact of EDGE will increase significantly during 2017.
Urban&Civic is also committed to supporting the local supply chain and maximising the economic benefit of the development. In addition to regular meet-the-buyer events, our team at Alconbury Weald also hosts a quarterly Construction Network, which brings local companies together to have an update on the development and on other projects in the area. The Network is delivered in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Construction Sector and has a regular attendance of 50–70 local companies. With more and more companies moving to the site, the team has now launched business surgeries that bring companies on site together with similar companies from the local area to look at opportunities for growth, skills and training requirements and supply chain. The surgeries are held in partnership with the Economic Development team at Huntingdonshire District Council.
Our project teams around the country learn from the experience at Alconbury and work with contractors on site to support their use of the local supply chain and to look to combine supply requirements where possible. At Newark, for example, the Buckingham Group are employing nearly 40 per cent of subcontractors from within a 45-mile radius of the site and are targeting locally based material and plant suppliers.
Efficient Design, Environment and Sustainability
Alconbury Weald continues its reduce, reuse and recycle principles, with over 340,000 tonnes of crush recycled in the last 12 months. We have been working hard with our first housebuilder, Hopkins Homes, to achieve our low carbon agenda building on the success of our Club building which opened this year. Designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris to sit alongside our existing Incubator building, the Club is constructed from 355m3 of timber generated from 2,250 trees. This method of construction is estimated to remove 1,082 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. The annual growth of the sustainable forest, from which the trees were sourced, is 30,400,000m3 meaning that our 355m3 of timber would have been replenished 23.4 minutes after it was harvested. What’s more, at the end of the Club’s life that same 355m3 of timber can be recycled as fuel generating 710,000 kWh which would heat 64 homes for a year.
Case study – sustainable housebuilding
Hopkin's approach to low carbon is to "be lean", "be clean" and "be green".Download case study PDF
In addition to the s106 contributions that formed part of planning permission for the supermarket consent in Herne Bay, Urban&Civic also helped fund a pedestrian and cycle crossing across the railway line next to the existing road bridge. The bridge was something that the community had made clear they really wanted from the outset of discussions and so we worked with landowners, Network Rail and local companies to help make it happen. The bridge is named the Albert Hugo Friday Bridge, in honour of a young Spitfire pilot who crashed nearby, and was opened by his descendants earlier this year. It creates a safe passage over the railway line for pedestrians and cyclists and has been warmly welcomed by local residents.
At Alconbury Weald, 2016 saw the launch of the extensive travel planning that underpins the development, including the offering of free bus tickets and cycle vouchers to establish early cultures of getting people out of cars. The development’s cycle group and bike hire hubs are due to be delivered over the next few months. Urban&Civic has also agreed to fund environmental enhancements along Ermine Street, which runs parallel to our site, through to the Stukeley villages. The scheme aims to both provide a more rural setting for the road, and in turn deter cars from driving through the villages as a “rat run”.
The plans have been developed with local authority transport teams and a residents’ transport group. The enhancements were written into the Transport Plan and need to be in place before the 250th home is occupied in the first half of 2018. The team is also funding Gateway Features for the neighbouring Alconbury Village to enhance the rural feel and to link into a wider update of signage across the local area.