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Delivering Sustainable Cities

Cities of the future will have to be cleaner, greener and more energy efficient. To get there, developers and local authorities will have to work together.

The world’s population is increasingly urban. By 2050, the UN estimates that more than two thirds of people in the world will be living in a city. The climate crisis, therefore, will never be tackled without creating a vision termed ‘sustainable cities’. Unfortunately, the cities of today have a long way to go.

Take London, for example. It is overcrowded, polluted and inefficient. The transport system is old and overloaded. Air quality regularly exceeds safe levels and quality of life is often substandard.

And this is one of the better cities in the world. What we need, therefore, is nothing short of a transformation.

Delivering Sustainable Cities

Cities of the future will have to be cleaner, greener and more energy efficient. To get there, developers and local authorities will have to work together.

The world’s population is increasingly urban. By 2050, the UN estimates that more than two thirds of people in the world will be living in a city. The climate crisis, therefore, will never be tackled without creating a vision termed ‘sustainable cities’. Unfortunately, the cities of today have a long way to go.

Take London, for example. It is overcrowded, polluted and inefficient. The transport system is old and overloaded. Air quality regularly exceeds safe levels and quality of life is often substandard.

And this is one of the better cities in the world. What we need, therefore, is nothing short of a transformation.

About sustainable cities

Sustainable cities is number 11 on the list of the UN’s development goals. It addresses a number of issues including inefficient housing, high pollution levels and local infrastructure to create an idea of a city which has a dramatically lower carbon footprint and is much more pleasant to live in.

In the past, we’ve tended to compartmentalise these issues which means problems get addressed in isolation. For example, we may try to make buildings more energy efficient, but we haven’t ensured there is a link so the total environment is good enough. The future needs to be different. Everything must be integrated.

People must live-in high-quality housing and apartments, but that should also transition into the environment outside with more green spaces, action on biodiversity and better transport links to their places of work which can be closer to their homes. Currently most city dwellers spend hours each day commuting to and from work.

Aside from the emissions this produces, long commutes are also poisonous to quality of life. Developing a holistic view of all these issues can bring that idea of a sustainable city a step closer. People and the planet will benefit.

Sustainable development in Whitehill and Bordon

We can see the principles of sustainable cities in action at our development in Whitehill and Bordon. As a new development, this gives us an opportunity to deliver a project which is high quality and efficient in terms of energy usage and gives people enough light and space outside.

For example, we’ve made good use of both ‘green’ infrastructure(in terms of plants, trees and other green spaces) and ‘blue’ infrastructure in terms of water sources. It has streams and a small river which runs through the development. We’ve used runoff water to create these spaces which also creates a more efficient drainage system.

For existing buildings, the challenge can be more complex. Upgrading developments which tick all the boxes is not always practical. There are so many elements to bring together. Improving a house is one thing. You can add renewable energy, better insulation and other modifications, but you still have to work to improve the environment with better green spaces, transport and infrastructure.

Inevitably, there will be concessions. It’s about creating the most positive and sustainable development possible within the constraints of the individual project.

Creating a sustainable development

For developers, the most important thing is to work more closely alongside their colleagues in engineering and other areas to create a more unified development strategy. They will also have to work with the local authority and have a joint venture mentality.

For many, this is a bit of a leap of the imagination. Today the relationship is often combative. The local authority pushes the developer to make changes which the developer says it can’t afford. It’s a combative relationship in which both sides are constantly working against each other.

Instead, they should aim for something more collaborative. A wise developer is someone who keeps the local authority in the loop and integrates their plans with the various disciplines of a sustainable city. The results will be better for everyone. 

Aside from anything else, the developer will be more likely to get planning applications through at the first time of asking. Because they’ve been working with the local authority from the outset, they’re in a better position to clear this hurdle and get the development finished more quickly.

This is why Whitehill and Bordon has been a success. It ticks many of these boxes and has seen the developer working closely with the local authority. They understand the brief and work as an integrated team to produce something which is high quality, green and efficient. In other words, a development which brings the goals of sustainable cities to fruition.

About sustainable cities

Sustainable cities is number 11 on the list of the UN’s development goals. It addresses a number of issues including inefficient housing, high pollution levels and local infrastructure to create an idea of a city which has a dramatically lower carbon footprint and is much more pleasant to live in.

In the past, we’ve tended to compartmentalise these issues which means problems get addressed in isolation. For example, we may try to make buildings more energy efficient, but we haven’t ensured there is a link so the total environment is good enough. The future needs to be different. Everything must be integrated.

People must live-in high-quality housing and apartments, but that should also transition into the environment outside with more green spaces, action on biodiversity and better transport links to their places of work which can be closer to their homes. Currently most city dwellers spend hours each day commuting to and from work.

Aside from the emissions this produces, long commutes are also poisonous to quality of life. Developing a holistic view of all these issues can bring that idea of a sustainable city a step closer. People and the planet will benefit.

Sustainable development in Whitehill and Bordon

We can see the principles of sustainable cities in action at our development in Whitehill and Bordon. As a new development, this gives us an opportunity to deliver a project which is high quality and efficient in terms of energy usage and gives people enough light and space outside.

For example, we’ve made good use of both ‘green’ infrastructure(in terms of plants, trees and other green spaces) and ‘blue’ infrastructure in terms of water sources. It has streams and a small river which runs through the development. We’ve used runoff water to create these spaces which also creates a more efficient drainage system.

For existing buildings, the challenge can be more complex. Upgrading developments which tick all the boxes is not always practical. There are so many elements to bring together. Improving a house is one thing. You can add renewable energy, better insulation and other modifications, but you still have to work to improve the environment with better green spaces, transport and infrastructure.

Inevitably, there will be concessions. It’s about creating the most positive and sustainable development possible within the constraints of the individual project.

Creating a sustainable development

For developers, the most important thing is to work more closely alongside their colleagues in engineering and other areas to create a more unified development strategy. They will also have to work with the local authority and have a joint venture mentality.

For many, this is a bit of a leap of the imagination. Today the relationship is often combative. The local authority pushes the developer to make changes which the developer says it can’t afford. It’s a combative relationship in which both sides are constantly working against each other.

Instead, they should aim for something more collaborative. A wise developer is someone who keeps the local authority in the loop and integrates their plans with the various disciplines of a sustainable city. The results will be better for everyone. 

Aside from anything else, the developer will be more likely to get planning applications through at the first time of asking. Because they’ve been working with the local authority from the outset, they’re in a better position to clear this hurdle and get the development finished more quickly.

This is why Whitehill and Bordon has been a success. It ticks many of these boxes and has seen the developer working closely with the local authority. They understand the brief and work as an integrated team to produce something which is high quality, green and efficient. In other words, a development which brings the goals of sustainable cities to fruition.

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If you'd like to talk to us about your project, do get in touch.