We continue to create places that support people to live sustainable lives, designing sustainability into our sites from the very beginning.
We tailor our designs to respond to local social and environmental concerns. This means that while some sites promote economic growth and job creation, others focus strongly on biodiversity. We also make sure these sites are accessible by public transport and on foot and that they promote easy and safe cycling.
Job creation and economic growth
Our developments actively seek to leverage our investment to create a positive economic impact, both during development and once in use.
At Alconbury, EDGE is a jobs and skills partnership to help businesses at Alconbury Enterprise Campus and beyond recruit and develop. EDGE works with local training providers, careers advice services, local authorities and the Job Centre to connect companies building and operating at Alconbury with local job seekers. Since opening, EDGE has promoted over 500 jobs with 150 different local businesses, and worked with over 420 customers.
To enhance this service, we now have a full-time in-house lead dedicated to supporting skills development. Through this new role, we have developed a new work experience programme to engage local students. Ten students from local schools were introduced to all aspects of our business, with platforms for partners and others to explain what they do and introduce practical elements. The feedback has been very positive and one of the students has already secured a placement with a partner business.
To further support economic development in the area, iMET, Alconbury’s innovation, manufacturing, engineering and technology centre, has now opened.
iMET provides technical training and skills development to support key local industries. iMET is located on land donated by Urban&Civic and we sit on the board.
With skills and labour gaps having the potential to slow down delivery, we are continuously seeking opportunities to help new people into construction and upskill the existing workforce. Our recent application to the Government’s Construction Skills Fund for a new construction training hub at Alconbury has been successful. Funding will cover set-up and operation for 18 months, supporting and promoting the new training hub.
The hub has the potential to work across all three of our sites in Cambridgeshire and our project partners currently include iMET, Cambridge Regional College, Breheny, Hopkins Homes and RG Carter. With EDGE and the schools providing the pipeline of new people wanting to get into construction, the housebuilders and contractors have an existing workforce for upskilling and training with specific targets to support those leaving industries in decline and ex-forces personnel. We expect to train over 600 people in the first 12–18 months and to create a sustainable business model which the housebuilders subscribe to.
The funding allows us to prove the concept and once up and running this has the capacity to generate a step change for on-site delivery of jobs and skills.
We hope to replicate this success at other sites. St Neots, home to our Wintringham site, has lost its local Job Centre and local college provision and we are in discussion about how EDGE and our skills hubs can help fill those gaps.
The business incubator, mentioned earlier, that we are funding at Wintringham, will promote innovation and entrepreneurship, supporting the local growth plan and helping to fill this gap. We are already working directly with a local creative cluster and other sectors to explore the type of space, setting and facilities which should define the commercial areas of the development. We are also working with a local secondary school to explore how visits to the site and projects can be used to enrich curriculum content in a variety of subjects, from ecology and history to geography and science.
Supporting existing organisations is another way to promote economic growth. Through an agreement with Royal Papworth Hospital, the first residents have moved into our Waterbeach site. Doctors and nurses relocating to the hospital’s new biomedical campus have now occupied two former barracks buildings which we converted and refurbished. These former barracks buildings now provide 236 units for clinical staff working at the world-leading heart and lung specialist centre.
|Jobs created by our developments in 2018||Number of partnerships||Average duration of partnerships|
Avon Valley School visit to Houlton, Rugby in collaboration with Warwickshire College Group and Galliford Try.
Efficient design that promotes sustainability
We design all our sites to be low carbon and sustainable. We reuse materials on site where possible and recycle materials we cannot reuse. The small amount of material that cannot be reused or recycled is hazardous materials which are sent for appropriate processing. The reduction in waste materials this year reflects a change in activity, particularly at Rugby and Alconbury with fewer preparation works and more construction. Of the material we sent for recycling a large quantity originated from the refurbishment of the Barracks at Waterbeach.
Where we deliver buildings, these reflect our sustainability aspirations. For example, at Alconbury, Incubator 2 is a flexible office space for small and start-up businesses which was developed as our first incubator building was full and companies needed grow on space. The building will include a range of sustainability features as well as promoting entrepreneurship.
Our sites preserve and promote biodiversity. At Wintringham our plans are designed to achieve a net gain on biodiversity. We started working with the Wildlife Trust early in the process and have engaged it to help develop our vision and refine our plans for two parts of the site, Railway Field and Brooks. We continue to collaborate with it to develop biodiversity audit frameworks so we can ensure that we meet our biodiversity net gain commitment and benefit wildlife.
At Waterbeach we also want to demonstrate a net gain on biodiversity and will take a similar approach, working with the Wildlife Trust and other local wildlife groups from planning right through to delivery and long‑term management.
|Reused on site (tonnes)
Hazardous waste* (tonnes)
* Asbestos sheets which were removed by a licensed contractor for processing.
CASE STUDY - BIODIVERSITY IN ACTIONDownload case study PDF
Incubator 2 which opened at Alconbury Weald this year alongside Incubator 1 and the Club.
A great place supports people going about their daily lives. Travel planning is essential to ensure people living and working on our sites can access what they need quickly and sustainably.
To help build a culture of sustainable travel we offer free bus tickets and cycle vouchers to every new household at Alconbury as part of a wider travel strategy developed with Cambridgeshire County Council. This is supported by our on-site Community Development Worker who visits each household when they move to the site to take residents through our site‑wide welcome pack. Uptake of these are recorded and people’s travel choices measured each year in an annual survey which also includes the businesses on site.
We aim to promote a culture of cycling and walking and have integrated these considerations into our plans right across our portfolio of sites. At Waterbeach a 2.5km central spine for pedestrians and cyclists dominates the development and restores a historical causeway between Denny Abbey and Waterbeach Abbey. By working with Cambridge Cycling Campaign and Waterbeach Cycling Campaign we have driven a design to achieve what we anticipate will be a world-leading cycle-first community.
At Alconbury the southern gateway to the development is being designed to prioritise buses and cyclists.
The design will provide a safe road through the centre of the roundabout, giving priority to buses and cyclists over cars and allowing them greater safety.
At Newark, the early bridge over the new link road for the SUSTRANS cycle route continues to ensure that the early phases of delivery have a safe and sustainable link into the town centre. The link road currently under construction at Rugby will also have a dedicated footpath and cycle route running alongside it to promote safe and sustainable transport between the site and the town.