Mick’s original master plan for 1000 new homes at West Gorton, East Manchester is starting to take shape. Demolition has begun on the first of the two tower blocks and most of the original Radburn housing is gone. First phase homes are complete along with two large apartment buildings and a series of terraces and semi-detached villas which are starting to put proper streets back into the community again.
Earlier this week I was invited to give a talk on well being and urban design for the North West Region RTPI event, ‘Planning for a Healthy Future’.
This is a subject I have been interested in for some time. Based on the New Economic Foundation’s 5 Ways to well-being the talk proposed a new approach and methodoogy for making new and happy communities. You can download it here: Happy by design
There is huge anmount of work being done on Happiness at the moment. It ties very closely with the emerging Mindfulness work which is spreading across the internet and, it seems, Waterstones in Deansgate.
For me its liberating and could be the basis for new ways of talking about design and place making over and above the usual design guidance we have. Its also very inclusive in that invites other professionals to get involved in design, particularly from the health sector. The 5 ways also puts the advantage back onto the developer and their design team to think more freely and creatively about how we can make lasting places. I have always thought design guidance should invite and encourage what could be done rather than what can’t be done.
Today MTUD has been in business three months. It’s going well.
Being back in the city I have made contact with all my old friends, collaborators and colleagues. The new office is great too and I have made friends with barista in the new Albert Square Costa…
Projects are growing. I am working on an interesting strategy for Sandwell Country Park with the Leisure Consultancy, which seems to be leading to more work focusing on concept making and feasibility work.
I am also back designing churches with a nice project in Chorlton.
I am also out, giving talks and workshops. Last month saw me leading a workshop on well being at Lancaster University and next week I am giving a talk entitled Happy by Design for the NW Region RTPI event, ‘Planning for a Healthy Future’, at BDP on well-being and place making. This will be the first time I have put together well being as set out by the New Economics Foundation and place making design tactics…watch this space.
I have finally joined the establishment too. I have just been elected an Urban Academician (about time too) and then directly got roped in as local helper. I have also become an Affiliate of the RTPI and an Ambassador for Placed based in Liverpool.
I am still drawing and making too. Here is the view from drawing table…
Last week my master plan for Manchester’s first low carbon community was awarded Outline Planning Permission by Manchester City Council.
The master plan is a great example of how to ‘re-stitch’ a Radburn plan back into a more recognisable community. Re-linking roads, removing cul-de-sacs and reconfiguring blocks to ensure that there is clearly defined, defensible space, which is clear and unambiguous. In other words making sure there are proper fronts and backs. The success of West Gorton was the realisation that we had to manipulate space within an infrastructure that was only 40 years old at best. In fact this is the lesson of most regeneration led master plans – Don’t move the roads…unless you really have to.
Like most other Radburn plans the neighbourhood is awash with green space, which is mostly underused, poorly maintained forgotten about or un-safe. These spaces do become development plots as long you can provide better open space elsewhere. This was changed at West Gorton by removing areas of lower density to create a new village green. All the new houses are designed to meet Manchester’s DFA 2 Design Standards.
You can download the project sheet here.