• Client
    Bellway and Miller Homes
  • Location
    Stevenage, Hertfordshire

Following success at the Outline Planning stage in 2022, we helped secure Reserved Matters Planning consents in 2023 for strategic Green Infrastructure and Public Open Space. Designs include a new Country Park in the new neighbourhood ‘Forster Park’, to the north of Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

We were part of the Bellway and Miller Homes design team, appointed to secure planning consent for the new neighbourhood. The development was allocated in the Stevenage Borough Local Plan for up to 900 new homes, a network of new public open spaces, a local centre, primary school, and also to create a new 38 ha Country Park to provide access to the Hertfordshire countryside for local communities.

Our role was to provide integrated Environmental Design services, in collaboration with the project architects, engineers, and planners to develop the Green Infrastructure proposals from the concept stage, through to the planning and contract stage. The proposals include a network of accessible spaces, integrating and enhancing public rights of way, and providing a connecting series of new sustainable and active travel routes. Our Landscape Architects and Ecologists worked collaboratively to ensure that the proposed Green Infrastructure successfully connects existing habitats with new areas of open space designed for amenity and recreational enjoyment as well as wildlife value.

The Green Infrastructure integrates new surface water attenuation basins designed to accommodate future climate change requirements and wildlife. These are located throughout the site for maximum amenity value. The basins are designed to hold water throughout the year; native aquatic and marginal plants and flowering grassland sward all provide a range of habitats and add visual interest.

Throughout, native species selection is prioritised, allowing local wildlife to prosper amidst the thriving new community. Species diversity was also a key objective, ensuring that planting across the Site was allowed to adapt to a changing climate. In total over 350 specimen trees are included within the main site’s Green Infrastructure network, connecting areas of retained and proposed woodland, hedgerows, and shrub thickets.

As required by the planning agreement, we developed an Open Space Strategy that assigned landscape character areas and design requirements to the Green Infrastructure network. These were informed by the existing site conditions and by the proposed new residential context and structure of the landscape, ecological, and functional objectives for each area. As a result, the strategy ensures that the designs were developed for the public open spaces to balance nature, beauty, and function.

The public open spaces provide vital opportunities for the new residents to socialise, engage with nature, and have the opportunity to get outdoors and be active. We prepared a play strategy for the Site that includes two large new community play areas equivalent to a combined Local Equipped Areas for Play (LEAP) and a Local Area for Play (LAP). These were further supported by 5 standalone LAPs and 2 pocket parks to ensure that all children within the site would have easy access to play facilities that would encourage active participation in their outdoor environment. Consultation with local interest groups helped to ensure that sustainable and active car-free travel routes are provided throughout the project area. Proposed footpath designs were assessed for steepness of gradient early on in the design phase to ensure that routes for a range of users are provided.

The cornerstone of the project’s Green Infrastructure provision is the creation of a new 38-hectare Country Park. Located to the west of the site within the St Nicholas Meadows and Rectory Lane Conservation Area safeguards an area of countryside valued by the existing community and with cultural association with the author E.M. Forster who lived nearby. Aspects of the design were inspired by his writings and the study of historic maps.

The Country Park which was predominantly species-poor arable land features:

  • New hay meadows,
  • a new community orchard,
  • new woodland and tree planting,
  • enhanced and new hedgerows located from historic mapping,
  • a new visitor car park and toilet block,
  • a network of footpaths and cycle routes for the enjoyment of the site by the whole community, and,
  • drainage and flood prevention measures to address historic off-site flooding.

Over a 30-year biodiversity management plan period it will become a haven for wildlife and provide a significant contribution to the Biodiversity Net Gain that the scheme delivers.

Our Visualisation team prepared both Verified Visual Montages (VVMs) and Computer Generated Images (CGIs) to illustrate the design and show how the site will mature over the years as the new planting becomes established. Our visualisations were valuable tools during the planning process, helping the planning committee members and residents to see the proposed changes from a range of viewpoints.

The new Country Park will be adopted and managed by Stevenage Borough Council as a lasting community asset.

Further to our role in developing the landscape design proposals for the Infrastructure and Country Park Reserved Matters applications, we supported the project through:

  • Preparation of a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) and Ecological Impact Assessment, forming technical chapters of an Environmental Statement,
  • Design support through the Allocation and Outline Planning process,
  • Ecological surveys and advice,
  • Preparation of a Landscape and Management Plan and a Biodiversity Monitoring Strategy,
  • Planting designs and ecology advice for Section 278 and Section 38 highways applications and residential Reserved Matters applications,
  • Detail landscape design for tender and contract stages, and
  • Marketing CGI’s for sales teams.

 

Our expertise

Environmental Design

Our values and value-led approach to Environmental Design help you to achieve your project’s potential We get to know our clients and provide pragmatic guidance and design solutions We can be [...]

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Landscape Architecture

Our value-led approach to Landscape Architecture will help you deliver your project’s potential We will work with you to understand your ambitions and provide you with design solutions and [...]

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Ecology

Our ecologists will help you understand the biodiversity potential of your site We will get to know your site and build a consultancy relationship that you can depend on Our ecological site surveys [...]

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Visualisation

Our talented team will help you to understand your site’s potential and visualise your site’s development opportunities We can provide you with a range of photographic and digital services to [...]

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