Town and Country Planning Association
Our aim is to promote the creation of high quality new places; ones that enable people to live in the homes they need; to be able to enjoy the countryside; to have places to walk and cycle; and where ‘work styles’ and business needs are catered for.
Our approach enables us to gain a detailed understanding of how places function and how people and businesses support each other, in order to prevent situations where development is imposed on communities.
The National Planning Policy Framework states that ‘the purpose of planning is to help achieve sustainable development’ and that relates to planning for change as well as planning to protect the landscapes, livelihoods and lifestyles of the people and environments we are responsible for.
Our experience and expertise in rural sustainability means that we can understand the unseen intricacies of places. The community facilities within a village or small town are often symbiotic in nature where the church, the post office, the school, the pub, the playground and the areas where people can walk their dogs support a wide range of the needs of their societies and natural environments.
Other, more technical aspect of community life include the ability to work from home with good communication and transport links, and the ability for younger and older members of the village to be able to get to places for shopping and to serve other needs.
We work sensitively with communities to ensure that their priorities and needs are thoroughly understood as part of the master plan process. Our work with BREEAM Communities has also contributed to the creation of Village Plans through our methods of consultation and visioning.
We put sustainability at the heart of any development proposal as we see this as being fundamental to the long-term success of any project.
Our understanding of the technical issues and processes involved in creating schemes means that we can interpret the requirements of multiple specialists and stakeholders and communicate these to the project team. Our team, supported by our associates, cover a multitude of disciplines and work creatively to develop ‘blue sky’ ideas into practical, on the ground, solutions.
Unusually we are also in a position to create the natural infrastructure through our estate and ecological teams. In this respect this makes us a little different from other sustainability consultants whose relationship with a site ends with a positive planning application. Understanding what works on the ground, and how people engage with newly created sites provides a planning team with a real perspective on how their designs will be used day to day.
BREEAM Communities and the Village Plan
We were in the interesting position whereby our client put forward a site for development into an eco-village extension, whilst the local Parish Council also were at the beginning of creating their Village Plan.
We quickly identified that the BREEAM Communities methodology would be most appropriate form of sustainability planning as this starts with early consultation with the local community and stakeholders to identify the goals, priorities and needs of those involved with the village.
In discussions with the Building Research Establishment, it was soon recognised that this approach was a new direction in terms of the application of BREEAM Communities. Therefore, the consultation and engagement element of BREEAM took on a direction wider than just the proposal site.
This has worked well so far, with both our clients understanding what people in the village needed and when, and also enabled the Parish Council to future project what infrastructure and community facilities would be needed over the following ten years.
Using the BREEAM Communities approach in this case also ensured that as the scheme project managers we were able to have continuous dialogue with the team, and a clear set of sustainability targets was understood.