Houlton, Rugby, A Landscape Designed For Life, Shortlisted For ‘Partnership Working’

A photograph of a woman sat within an informal green space with play elements and tree planting

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:

  • retention and restoration of inherited assets
  • integration of nature and communities, and
  • 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.

Date published: 26 May 20

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