An integrated and interdisciplinary approach to designing a mixed tenure development, where social value creation is firmly at the heart of placemaking, successfully guided options selection and the case for public sector investment.

Meridian Water is a major £6bn London regeneration programme led by Enfield Council. When the Meridian Water team ran an ideas competition for creative teams, seeking proposals for an innovative and sustainable approach to placemaking, Bell Phillips Architects (BPA) invited Human City to provide a social value strategy for their community-led housing scheme.

The problem

Enfield Council launched a design competition looking for fresh new ways to embed social, environmental and economic sustainability into the second phase of development at Meridian Water in Enfield, north London. Human City supported BPA during the critical second stage of the competition, working alongside environmental consultants and other specialists to help the firm develop a robust approach to designing and delivering social value. BPA was a runner-up in the competition with its proposal for Gardensity – a mixed tenure development with private gardens, allotments and community gardens.

The considerations

BPA’s Gardensity concept is a modern garden city that meets the evolving needs of the twenty-first century. It takes the best of garden city design, ensuring the highest quality of placemaking and the creation of homes that meet exacting modern sustainable living requirements. In addition to high-quality homes, Gardensity provides strong structural planting and homes with gardens, including front garden space and local food growing. This was a key opportunity for Human City to showcase how social value can drive decision-making early on in development, and how social value considerations can be used to appraise and prioritise design and delivery options.

The implementation

Specialising in an outcomes-based approach to placemaking, the Human City team carried out desk research to identify stakeholder groups and local needs to inform the design of the scheme and scope out potential stewardship and tenure models. We worked alongside the firm to come up with a set of design ideas for a plot, which were presented as a charter and included a set of impact objectives. This charter guided the development and delivery of the scheme, leading Enfield Council to invite a community land trust to tender for it. Human City then commissioned social advisory firm The Good Economy to create an impact evaluation framework for the council, enabling it and its partners to track and monitor their impact.

The benefits

Forming an integrated client team, Human City, in partnership with The Good Economy, collaborated with BPA from competition stage right through to the delivery of its groundbreaking concept for sustainable living in Enfield. By working as an interdisciplinary team in this way, we combined a deep understanding of human behaviour and real estate to provide Enfield Council with the evidence and insight it needed to apply innovative, sustainable Gardensity principles to future housing developments in the area.

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