Sunday, September 30, 2012

A good Brownfield Development

A couple of years ago Stockton Council held a design competition for the housing to be built on the North Shore site - at that stage still a very uninspiring dirty area.  The architects all produced futuristic designs and one was duly declared the winner.  Some months later the plans came to planning committee for the first phase of the housing, now looking a bit more traditional and constrained by what was sensible to expect from that site.  There were promises of housing that would be easy to maintain and low in energy demand.
Yesterday I went to look at what was actually being built, now that the second phase has just received planning consent.  The houses are varied - 2, 3 or 4 bedrooms, some with 2 floors while others have 3 floors.  Some have windows that are really enclosed balconies on the first floor with views across to the Cleveland Hills and the Infinity Bridge.  Others have roof terrraces with similar views.  The roofs incorporate PV tiles, there's rainwater harvesting, there's really good insulation.  I wouldn't mind betting that with care it's possible to use very little electricity for heating and lighting.  Unsurprisingly, when I've looked round them, they are selling well.  With a 10 minute walk into Stockton Town Centre or along to the barrage or the gym, 5 minutes up the road to the bus stop, cars aren't as necessary for every day use as they are in other places.
Developers are telling us that they can't afford to clean up and build on brown field sites because people won't buy them.  Yet here's a developer with people buying the houses before they're built, because they're well designed, well built, with low power costs to run and within easy reach of many amenities.  Talking to people there it seems that there's a bit of community spirit already, and children are actually playing out of doors!  I suspect that this will be a more sustainable development than any of the ones being proposed around Eaglescliffe and Yarm, and longterm a more desirable one too.

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