Daniel Forrester, Land Director for Cala Homes Midlands, explains the concept of placemaking and its role in creating thriving communities.

There is no doubt that we need to build more new homes in the UK. Current output of around 170,000 per year in England* falls well short of Government targets to build 300,000 new homes per annum by 2025. However, volume should not be the only driver. 

The homes and communities we build today will shape not only the look of our towns, cities and villages in the future, but the way in which we live our lives, the community spirit we foster and even our health, wellbeing and happiness.

Local plans and national planning policy guidelines only go so far. It is up to us, as developers, to put placemaking at the heart of everything we do. 

So what does placemaking mean to Cala Midlands? For us, it’s about creating more than just a collection of homes; it’s about designing vibrant new communities that are an integral part of the local areas in which we build. It is also about understanding how people live and ensuring that careful thought has been given to all aspects of a modern and sustainable lifestyle, including local amenities, employment and access to public transport and road networks. 

Our sense of community and the open space on our doorsteps are more important to us now than ever. Creating a strong sense of place is key to wellbeing of us all, and public open space, community links and local walks and cycleways are all important considerations in the design of new developments.

Of course, a commitment to placemaking does not mean a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Every development is unique, and each development setting requires a bespoke approach to placemaking. 

Taking a collaborative approach during the planning process is vitally important in understanding the essence of each local community. Through meaningful consultation, we can understand the specific priorities and concerns of local communities and create a development solution that meets the needs of each local area, both now and in the future. 

At Cala Midlands, our recent developments have included rural village sites, regeneration in regency towns and the creation of a brand-new Garden Village. On each occaion, we have tailored our approach to create aspirational developments where people want to live, work and socialise.

In the Worcestershire village of Salford Priors, our Priors Crescent development demonstrates how new homes can enrich the most traditional of settings. A collection of 68 properties has been set in a sweeping crescent overlooking a new seven acre village green. Properties take inspiration from the local area and have been designed around three distinct character areas of cottages, a central crescent and garden courtyards. High quality landscaping, the retention of existing trees and the creation of significant new hedgerows help to integrate the new homes with the existing village. 

Cala’s Burrow Hill Park development in the village of Burton Green in Warwickshire is another example of how a collaborative approach to development can benefit the local communities in which we build. The development of traditional homes brings a new heart to the village with the creation of a village green, as well as a playing field for the use of the local primary school and the wider community and a drop-off parking area for the school. An extensive network of footpaths and bridleways throughout the site links the new homes with the village and we have even included an ecological corridor for the Great Crested Newts found in a pond to the south of the site. 

The development was a result of a close partnership and detailed consultation with local stakeholders including the parish council.

In the Gloucestershire spa town of Cheltenham, the redevelopment of the former police headquarters required a very different approach to placemaking with a different development solution. Cheltenham is renowned for its stunning regency architecture and the site itself is within the Cheltenham Central Conservation Area. After extensive community consultation, we created a scheme that put the site back on the map, transforming characterless office blocks into a new community of landmark buildings, high-quality external landscaping and a focal point of green space.

59 Lansdown now features a striking collection of villas and apartments, the latter housed in Georgian-inspired buildings providing an attractive frontage to the development.  Traditional Regency-style elevations and a muted palette of reconstituted Ashlar stone, buff coloured brick work and powder-coated metal panelling provides a modern take on the town’s traditional architecture.

A flagship development for Cala Midlands starting in 2020 will be a collection of 400 homes at Long Marston Airfield near Stratford-Upon-Avon, part of a proposed new Garden Village. Placemaking here will be delivered on an impressive scale as we create a brand new community. Plans include a 4,000 square metre community hub with the potential for employment units, shops and a community centre.

However, what really sets this development apart is the provision of public open space – a huge 51 acres incorporating sports pitches, a multi-use games area, a community orchard, extensive footpaths for exercise and walking and allotment gardens.
Every Cala development is unique. What remains consistent is our focus on maximising the potential of each new site and going over and above to create a real sense of place. Our aim for every development is to create something that we are proud to build and where people will be proud to live, for many generations to come.  

*ONS Data

Visit our homes for sale page for more information on our developments. 

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