Houlton, Rugby, a landscape designed for life, shortlisted for ‘Partnership Working’.

Houlton, Rugby, a landscape designed for life, with biodiversity at its core, shortlisted for ‘Partnership Working’ as part of the Planning Awards 2020.

Houlton is the new 473-hectare large-scale strategic redevelopment of the former ‘Rugby Radio Station’ site. As the lead landscape architects for Houlton, we are responsible for the concept and detailed design, coordination and implementation of all green infrastructure elements of this strategic development that over the next 20 years, will deliver some 6,200 new homes.

The first phases of this joint venture between Urban&Civic and Aviva Investors are well underway with over 300 homes already occupied and a further 600 consented homes in the pipeline. An early primary school has been built and is in its second year of occupation along with the Dollman Farm community hub with café and community centre, a children’s play park and over 1.5km of connected wildlife corridors, a network of footpath/cycleways, and 20 hectares of informal open space.

Our nature-led vision for this first phase is underpinned by the following key pillars:

  1. retention and restoration of inherited assets
  2. integration of nature and communities, and
  3. celebration of Houlton’s local history and surrounding area.

Working collaboratively with Urban&Civic and the wider project team, here’s how we delivered on them to make it a unique place.

  • Our landscape design centres around the creation of an extensive ‘Nature Recovery Network,’ which sensitively integrates connected habitat mosaics with inclusive and accessible movement corridors designed to promote healthy lifestyles with access to nature on the door step.
  • The first residents of Phase 1 have already formed a thriving community, despite being pioneers on an active development site – with a connected and diverse landscape as the catalyst for daily activity.
  • Our design work references and repurposes the historic ridge and furrow landscape found across much of the site and has reintroduced the Wyken Pippin – a rare and local Warwickshire apple variety.
  • We retained existing orchard trees wherever possible and worked with Hillier Nurseries to source and replant salvaged stock from derelict UK orchards.
  • Through the design of the landscape, we’ve helped Urban&Civic create an instant village feel that influenced the ‘Come Home to Houlton’ marketing campaign and helps to sell the ‘Houlton’ lifestyle.
  • We designed and procured a custom suite of street furniture for the site in partnership with a local carpenter.
  • Materials have been selected to provide quality, simplicity and durability and with a sustainable and reliable local supply chain.
  • Selection of native and local plant species and integration with sustainable methods of water management also ensure that the landscape will adapt as it matures.
  • As well as extensive community consultation, we developed and implemented a bespoke wayfinding strategy for Houlton including a series of hand-drawn sketches and fun facts to bring biodiversity to life.

Phase 1 at Houlton is the culmination of over 5 years of collaborative working; bringing together like-minded professionals to create a development that not only meets but significantly exceeds the needs of residents – all whilst protecting and enhancing the natural environment.

For more information about Houlton, Rugby click here.

Alconbury Weald, shortlisted for ‘Best Use of Heritage in Placemaking’.

Alconbury Weald, a landscape-led development in Cambridgeshire, has been shortlisted for ‘Best Use of Heritage in Placemaking’ as part of the Planning Awards 2020.

A largely brownfield site, the former RAF airfield at Alconbury was bought by master developer Urban&Civic in 2009. Over the next 20 years, their vision is to transform the 1425-acre site into Alconbury Weald; a unique and inspiring place for working, living, learning – a place for everyone to call home.

A project of epic proportions, BMD are solely responsible for delivering all landscape architectural and ecological services for Urban&Civic on-site.  Championing design quality throughout, we are a key part of Urban&Civic’s extensive work with stakeholders; supporting their community engagement programme that has established Alconbury Weald within the local area and provides continual feedback that shapes our design proposals.

Urban&Civic has been keen to create a sense of arrival and unique character for Alconbury Weald from day one; encompassing high-quality homes, historically respectful layouts, natural landscaping and inspiring civic buildings. Once complete, it will consist of 6500 homes, an employment Enterprise Campus, schools, sustainable transport links, energy infrastructure and community facilities – integrated with more than 600 acres of green space at its heart.

Key Phase 1, is the start of an exciting journey for Alconbury Weald; a place that has harnessed the power of landscape to transform a dusty airfield into an established community. Inspired by the Site’s rich aerospace history, our landscape design connects the new community to surrounding grasslands, water and ancient woodlands.

Our landscape-led vision for this first phase is underpinned by three pillars – Growing a Pioneer Community, Staged Placemaking and a Multi-Generational Design Approach.

Working collaboratively with Urban&Civic and the wider project team, here’s how we delivered on them to make it a unique place.

  • Set within a newly-created ‘urban forest’, we have delivered a sequence of interlinked spaces, each with their own distinct character, that form the heart of a new community.
  • We worked with the site’s existing landscape assets and designed ecologically-focused features that provide extensive habitat for wildlife and will deliver a net gain in biodiversity across the development.
  • We translocated over 120 mature trees, including a 70-year-old London Plane, using Europe’s largest tree spade and planted new trees raised from seed collected from adjacent ancient woodlands.
  • Over 1ha of species rich grassland and woodland have been established, the specification of which has been shaped by trials undertaken on-site.
  • People focussed and inclusive, the landscape and public realm draws upon the area’s character and the site’s heritage to deliver a unique and welcoming place.
  • Delivering a ‘landscape and social infrastructure first’ approach meant key open spaces, pathways and facilities were open when the first residents moved in; making it feel like home from day one.
  • Key Phase 1 delivers ‘instant’ impact landscape – helping Urban&Civic set the tone for the entire development and sell the Alconbury Weald vision to their customers and future residents, resulting in record sales launches for housebuilders.
  • Ensuring social and environmental resilience have been at the heart of design thinking and decision making. Facilities and opportunities for all ages are layered to create places that bring people together.


Truly landscape-led masterplanning, detailed design and implementation have created a place with a unique identity that exhibits a real sense of permanence. Drawing on a combination of client, consultant and stakeholder collaboration, bespoke design, technology and expert advice, our approach has opened access to and engagement with landscape for all.

For more information about Alconbury Weald, Click Here