#LoveParksWeek – the importance of local green spaces and parks

This week is #LoveParksWeek and to celebrate, our colleague Zuzanna Golczyk, discusses the importance of local green spaces and parks.

Parks are very important to all of us. Our recent experiences during lockdown have brought this to the forefront of the public’s attention. Having a chance to exercise in a nearby park has been, for many people, the essential link to normality throughout these months. This year we’re joining #LoveParksWeek 2020 to help celebrate our local green spaces and parks. #LoveParksWeek is an annual national campaign run by Keep Britain Tidy that aims to encourage people to enjoy local parks and to raise awareness about our environment and the communities which help to protect them.

Parks during Covid-19 lockdown

It’s difficult to overstate the positive impacts which being in the park can have upon our well-being, particularly during these difficult and unprecedented times.

Because of the Covid-19 outbreak, the whole world has had to learn a different way of working and functioning. Being able to visit the park has given people a much needed release during the pandemic. Parks were also the first places where people could begin meeting friends, family members and loved ones again as restrictions lifted.

However, the current situation has put many people’s wellbeing under stress. Spending time in nature can counter these effects. It is widely recognised and documented that experiencing nature has a beneficial effect on many aspects of our lives. Research has shown spending 20 minutes in a natural place can reduce stress and help people from feeling overwhelmed during difficult times. It also enhances the ability to focus, which can make it easier to work from home. Psychologists say that even surrounding yourself with plants at home or watching nature videos can have a meaningful impact on our wellbeing.

Access to parks and other natural spaces will remain vitally important on the road to recovery from the pressure that the pandemic has put on our health and wellbeing. We need our parks more than ever before.

Creating places for the future

Bradley Murphy Design’s (BMD) leading aim is to create places for people and nature. This means that over the last 9 years, across a wide portfolio of projects, BMD has designed and delivered an array of parks and public green spaces which provide an engaging, direct experience of nature for those who visit them.

We believe that parks and green spaces are essential for individuals and communities and in 2018 created the award-winning H.A.L.O model to underpin the design of exemplary public spaces. The H.A.L.O model for growing healthy infrastructure was named the winner of the Ebbsfleet Garden City: Landscape for Healthy Living International Design Competition 2018.

H.A.L.O re-evaluates how the green, grey, blue and built infrastructure work together to make new communities inherently healthier, greener and smarter. It comprises four key design interventions, Hives, Arcs, Links & Organics, that collectively form an interconnected web of healthy infrastructure on residents’ doorsteps.  The whole process started with identifying the obstacles that hold people back from having healthy lifestyles and developed into a design ethos with people’s health and wellbeing at its centre. It won the award for its ‘radical but realisable’ approach that could be applied to future developments.

HALO Ebbsfleet BMD

Approach

Our company aspiration is to design and build accessible and resilient places that have the power to regenerate not only landscapes but whole communities, contributing to healthier lifestyles. To enable us to achieve this, we want to raise awareness of the need and importance of these spaces, educating where we can and collaborating with stakeholders to reach a common goal of beautiful and useable landscapes for everyone.

What can you do?

We invite you to join us in celebrating our parks and green spaces by taking a picture of your favourite park and post it using #LoveParksWeek.  You can also support your local park by joining the local green community group, volunteer group or Parks Trust, donating to charity or simply sharing this message to raise the awareness.

Waterbeach Barracks and Airfield; healthy infrastructure for modern living.

Waterbeach Barracks & Airfield, Shortlisted for ‘Planning Permission of the Year’

In August 2014, Urban&Civic Plc were appointed as Development Partner to DIO (Defence Infrastructure Organisation) to redevelop the 290 hectare (716 acre) former airfield and barracks site at Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire.  The site constitutes the western two thirds of a new settlement allocated by South Cambridgeshire District Council through their Local Plan process, which has a capacity for 8,000 to 9,000 homes.

BMD were commissioned by Urban&Civic to provide the full suite of green infrastructure services covering landscape architecture, soil science, ecology and arboriculture and have worked alongside Fletcher Priest Architects, David Lock Associates, Stantec (formerly Peter Brett Associates) and a wide range of other partners since the outset of the project.

The airfield and barracks is an entirely brownfield site located on the northern edge of the historic village of Waterbeach.  Sitting at the meeting point between the Western Claylands and Fenlands landscape character areas, the site is a gateway to the fens with excellent transport connections that is just three miles from the Cambridge Science and Business Parks, home to some of the most dynamic employment generation in the world.

With a man-made lake at its heart and historic links to the Schedule monument of Denny Abbey in the north, the inherited features within the site, such as the extensive areas of existing grassland and woodland plantations, combine to form a rich ecological and heritage mosaic that drove the masterplanning process from the outset.

A critical and ongoing element of the project has been demonstrating how the site will achieve a net gain in biodiversity without relying on any offsite improvements or other offsetting measures.  Central to this is the creation of four Biodiversity Priority Areas that harness the best of the sites existing assets and build on these to create rich and distinctive habitats at a macro scale, which are linked through smaller scale interventions to provide an interconnected mosaic of treatments for wildlife and people.

Combined with the site’s flat topography and adjacency to the city of Cambridge, this extensive green infrastructure framework formed the ideal basis for the creation of an exemplary pedestrian and cycle movement network that has been designed in collaboration with SCDC, Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) and a range of key stakeholders and cycle advocates.

The fenland setting has also been the inspiration for a sustainable drainage system that operates from the streets to the existing and new lakes, to bring the water story to life and nature to the doorstep.

The outline planning application was submitted jointly by the Secretary of State for Defence and Urban&Civic to South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC) in February 2017, who, during a specially constituted Planning Committee on 13th May 2019, resolved to grant permission for 6,500 new homes and associated employment, transport, educational, health and community uses.  Formal planning permission was granted by SCDC on the 27th September 2019, following the completion of the associated Section 106 agreement.

Waterbeach Barracks & Airfield is the culmination of long-term partnerships between the Client, the design team, local authorities and a cast of stakeholders and consultees that will create a unique and exciting place to live and work.

BMD are currently working on the detailed landscape design of Key Phase 1 and construction is due to commence on site later this year, with first occupations anticipated in 2022/23.

For more information about Waterbeach click here.