Tag Archives: Places

NW Bicester

Bioregional Oxfordshire supported the development of the UK’s first eco-town North West Bicester, from 2010 to 2017, through a long-term partnership with lead developer, A2Dominion, and the local authority, Cherwell District Council

The UK’s first eco-town

NW Bicester eco-town is a 6,000-home extension to the market town of Bicester, with highly sustainable, true zero-carbon homes plus workplaces, schools, community facilities and abundant green space.

It is the only development to be built to the original high sustainability standards outlined in the UK’s official government Eco Towns Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 2009. The policy was scrapped in 2015.

Bioregional got involved with the eco-town process in 2008 when our CEO Sue Riddlestone OBE sat on its advisory panel, helping to define the standards for the PPS.

Following this work , Bioregional started working with NW Bicester’s lead developer A2Dominion and the planning authority, Cherwell District Council to help deliver the eco-town.

Working across the traditional planning divide, we took a collaborative approach to understanding the PPS standards and developing the strategies to deliver them.  We provided advice on energy, waste, water, landscape, transport, green space and nature, and employment strategies.

We have also helped deliver sustainability benefits across the wider town by working with the local authority and other organisations. Read more.

What makes a One Planet Community?

Elmsbrook is the first phase of the eco-town, a 393-home One Planet Community. Bioregional helped A2Dominion to prepare an ambitious sustainability action plan using the One Planet Living framework. This action plan was then endorsed by Bioregional in 2012.

Construction of Elmsbrook began in the spring of 2014, with the first residents moving in mid-2016.

With a local office nearby in Bicester, Bioregional Oxfordshire worked with A2Dominion during the  first phase to ensure it fulfils its sustainability promises.

The 393-home One Planet Community includes a primary school, community centre, an eco-business centre and local neighbourhood shops, creating a village feel.

  • All homes are built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5 incorporating triple glazing, rainwater harvesting and water recycling.
  • Electricity is generated from PV solar panels on every home (34 square metres per property on average) which, when complete, will make this the UK’s largest residential solar array.
  • Heat and hot water come from the community’s own combined heat and power plant. The ambition is to eventually use waste heat from the existing Ardley energy-from-waste facility nearby.
  • With cycle and pedestrian routes, a bus stop within 400 metres of every home, live timetable updates in each home, charging points for electric vehicles and an electric car club, residents are being encouraged to adopt sustainable modes of travel.

Heart of Hackbridge

Working with the local council and community, we have transformed a run-down local shopping parade blighted by speeding traffic. We’ve helped shopkeepers to make their businesses more competitive and eco-efficient and made the area far more attractive for pedestrians.

Sustainability in suburbia

Bioregional developed and led a partnership bid to the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund to radically improve the suburban local centre of Hackbridge, preparing it for the challenges it will face over the coming years. These include major housing and retail redevelopment of surrounding brownfield sites.

Overseen by a local resident and stakeholder Project Board which we set up, and working across the ten One Planet Living principles, BioRegional has delivered a multifaceted £1.4 million regeneration programme including:

  • Local economic development, working with 23 existing local traders to diversify their offer and cut their energy bills, to prepare for the competitive challenges they face
  • Sustainable business operations, including south London’s first Marine Stewardship Council-certified fish & chip shop and a solar-powered coffee van
  • Community development, including running family events and facilitating a local business network.

We underpinned this with a co-ordinated programme of high-impact low-cost environmental improvements, including:

  • A traffic calming scheme, with a safer highway layout, narrowing the main carriageways and junction, with new informal pedestrian crossing points
  • Transformation of the street setting, by widening of pavements and installing new trees, seats, cycle facilites, rain-gardens, wayfinding, shopfronts and signage
  • Creation of a new ‘Pocket Park’, providing a new entrance to the Beddington Farmlands and emerging Wandle Valley Regional Park.

Five new jobs have been created in local businesses, and one new business has started up. To promote this positive change we organised three community events in the centre attracting more than 1,000 people.

The bulk of the  work was completed in 2014, with the Pocket Park being completed in June 2015. This has transformed a neglected corner plagued by fly-tipping and unauthorised car parking, providing a tranquil green space to sit, chat and relax a few yards from the shops and services.

In the Spring of 2015 we surveyed Hackbridge centre visitors to find out what impact these changes had made. Compared to findings from a baseline survey in 2012, we found visitors were likely to come to the centre, spend more time and money in it, had a better opinion of it and felt the local shops had improved.

The proportion of visitors saying they:

  • visited the shops every day  doubled, from 31% to 63%
  • felt the local shops were either poor or very poor fell from 26% to just 8%
  • spent more than £10 per visit rose from 49% to 58%
  • spent more than 15 minutes per visit rose from  25% to 55%.

About our partners

The London Borough of Sutton took the lead role in the highway engineering aspects of this project. It is the first One Planet Council.

Adams & Sutherland Architecture, Landscape and Urban Design were the project’s designer

Retail Revival were our retail consultants for this project.

One Planet Brighton & Hove

Brighton & Hove is the first One Planet City. It is using a stretching and ambitious sustainability action plan based on the ten One Planet Principles. The aim: to maintain this top seaside resort as a thriving and attractive city while spreading opportunities to all of its citizens and living and working within a fair share of the earth’s resources.

Sustainability on sea

Brighton & Hove’s Sustainability Action Plan was endorsed by Bioregional in April 2013, marking its debut as the first One Planet City. As well as greening the city council’s own operations, it aims to enable 280,000 seaside citizens to live well within a fairer share of the earth’s resources.

Working with Bioregional and other partners in the city, the overall goal is to boost the local economy, make Brighton & Hove more resistant to price hikes in energy, fuel and food, and foster a more equal and healthy city while protecting the environment and our one planet.

The plan sets out how Brighton & Hove can meet all the targets under Bioregional’s ten One Planet Principles, identifying achievable goals that are compatible with living within the natural resources our one planet can provide. For each principle, it sets objectives for both the council and the entire city. Councillor Jason Kitcat, Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council says: “It’s a huge achievement for Brighton & Hove to be recognised as the world’s first One Planet City.”

This detailed but practical three year plan sets out baselines (“where we are now”), high level objectives (“where we want to get to”) and short, medium and long term actions (“what we are going to do”) to improve local quality of life, reduce impacts on the environment, save money and make Brighton & Hove more resilient. For example, the plan embraces more local, renewable energy sources and insulation programmes which save energy and make homes cheaper to heat. Read its 71 page plan.

The council has also published case studies detailing work going on around the city under the plan and the ten One Planet Principles.  In December 2014, Bioregional published an 18 month review of Brighton & Hove’s progress against the timetable and targets set out in the plan.  Please see the Annual Review section in the sidebar to view both the summary and full reports.

Bioregional has been working in Brighton & Hove for more than a decade. Projects include the landmark One Brighton development of 178 homes, the first One Planet Community in the UK.

In 2014/15 we supported an exciting photography project in Brighton & Hove based on the ten principles of One Planet Living and the city’s One Planet status. It included a photography competition for local people – you can see the winning images here.

About the partner

Brighton & Hove City Council, overseen by 54 locally elected councillors, has a total budget of nearly £800 million, employs 9,400 staff and provides a wide range of essential services to about 280,000 residents, 12,650 local businesses and some 8.5 million annual visitors.