Blueprint is seeking Nottingham City Council’s formal pre-application advice in respect of residential development proposals at Trent Basin.
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The Site is recognised by both Blueprint and the Council as
forming a prominent part of the Waterside Regeneration Zone. As
such, Blueprint intends to adopt an iterative approach through
which the development’s design should evolve.
The project team has engaged on an informal basis with the Council over the last 12-18 months and has received useful feedback during this time as to the issues, constraints and opportunities the development proposals must consider.
This current submission therefore represents the first stage of
formal pre-application discussions, whereby Blueprint seeks to
agree the Site’s overall urban design and masterplanning
principles before progressing to the next stage of detail.
A second stage of pre-application work is then expected to be carried out, building upon the agreed principles of Stage 1, and before commencing work towards preparing a planning application.
We trust that this iterative approach is welcomed by the Council as a proactive route towards delivering a highly sustainable development in one of the City’s key regeneration areas.
Using the map
Let us guide you through the Trent Basin Pre-Application by
scrolling the story menu.
Listen to Andrew Matthews (Proctor & Matthews Architects) discuss each chapter of the pre-application and look out for blue highlighted text like this - it will indicate interactive features on the map.
Finished reading? Our story is fully interactive - pan, zoom and tilt the map to fully explore Trent Basin.
Read the full audio transcript below
Trent Basin Pre-Application Introduction
Nottingham City's vision for its waterside regeneration area has informed these proposals for the remaining phases of Trent Basin. Building on the success of the first phases these designs set out to capture the opportunity to deliver a 21st century living environment that relates to Nottingham's unique riverside character. All the homes have been designed to employ the very best in new construction technologies and to provide low carbon energy efficient dwellings.
Vision - SPD Development
The Waterside Supplementary Planning Document or SPD that was adopted last year provides the strategic urban design principles that new development within the waterside regeneration zone needs to respond to.
These include the creation of a new residential waterside neighbourhood, a new primary school to provide vital social infrastructure, and the establishment of a new public realm with legible streets and spaces, as well as a new Riverside path and associated green infrastructure.
Vision - SPD Connectivity
New development needs also to facilitate good connections for both pedestrians and cyclists to the city centre and the surrounding neighbourhoods. Most importantly, the SPD calls for the establishment of more people friendly spaces.
There is no doubt that Trent Basin is a pivotal site within the wider waterside regeneration area. While it is located towards the eastern end of the SPD subject zone, it is the only site with a significant historic wharf that sits perpendicular to the river and provides a water focus at the heart of the new development area.
Trent Basin Context
The remaining Trent Basin development area now includes the site for the new primary school and a mobility hub at the head of the basin. It will also deliver new strategic pedestrian connections both east west along the riverside and north south from the riverfront to Daleside Road. The site's significance means it will be the local centre for the wider riverside community as it grows over the coming years.
Trent Basin Hybrid Planning Application Strategy
The proposals presented here will be submitted as a hybrid planning application with part of the site designed in detail and the remainder drawn in outline. The development area supports 199 dwellings of which 122 houses and 23 apartments are planned in the detailed area. The outline area supports a further 54 dwellings with an indicative mix 46 apartments and 8 houses.
Existing Site Conditions
The photographs that accompany the site layout show the site conditions today and you can see that large areas of the site are unused with other sections occupied by large industrial sheds some of which are still occupied.
The boundary conditions are important and very different in character. We have the verdant nature of the river with all its natural landscape on the south side of the site and then the existing industrial areas to the east and west. While both these areas are due to be transformed in the coming years, we still need to be mindful of the transition period for the new residents at Trent Basin. To the north the site has a new boundary onto the busy Daleside Road.
The large water body that we know as Trent Basin dominates the centre of the development area measuring 36.4 metres wide by 113 metres long. It is an amazing resource both to look over and to bring water side leisure activities to the heart of the neighbourhood. The water level is approximately three metres below the existing tow path. We will see later in the presentation how landscape architects BBUK have mitigated this level difference.
Trent Basin History
Trent Basin has a very interesting history. It was built in the 1930s as a timber wharf and in its heyday had some very significant buildings and wharf side cranes set around its edges. Obviously, the scale of the basin reflects its industrial past and the historic images show the large ships that docked here and the dockside equipment that supported the movement of timber.
So, we have this fascinating historic context to work with and as architects, we are interested in the way in which we can combine this historic industrial scale alongside new housing fit for our Century. The challenge is how we create a contemporary residential quarter for Nottingham that can respond to this spatial context and deliver an appropriate domestic architecture.
There are a number of precedents, both from the immediate context and from further afield that help us begin to think about appropriate urban spatial structures, as well as an architectural language. Nottingham's historic core, its original medieval streets and hidden courts and alleyways are relevant as are Dutch examples like Delft where domestic architecture forms strong frontage to the canal side as well as providing clear thresholds to quieter courtyard spaces behind.
The accompanying images illustrate this with both contemporary pictures of Nottingham and Delft, in the Netherlands. The famous 17th Century paintings of Delft by Pieter de Hooch depict domestic spaces that still exist to this day and demonstrate the importance of urban thresholds in forming increasingly private space. Delft's handsome domestic architecture, its canals and people friendly spaces make it one of the most sought-after cities to live in in Holland.
The East Midlands and particularly Nottingham has its own architectural character, and this can also inform a contextual design approach at Trent Basin. Nottingham Leicester and Derby all have a prevalence of red and blue brick as well as the use of Colley Western stone employed to augment brickwork and emphasize important details.
These materials are bought together in some of the best Arts and Crafts buildings of the period in Nottingham. We show here a number of buildings by Watson Fothergill and it is interesting to note that Fothergill skilfully employs a domestic language on buildings of multiple scales.
Principle Movement Corridors - Vehicular Network
In this section of the presentation we talk about the creation of a 21st Century neighbourhood. The masterplan is designed to support a hierarchy of public and private realm space. This begins with the three site wide movement corridors; the principal movement corridors that are referred to in the SPD.
We've got the new East West vehicle connection across the site, which is called Kilpin Way, a section of the new Riverfront path including a new pedestrian bridge across the head of the Basin (and access for pedestrian around all sides of the Basin), as well as a new pedestrian connection through a new pocket park to Daleside Road.
Principle Movement Corridors - Shared Surfaces
The new Kilpin Way that connects Poulton Drive in the west with Trent Lane in the east has been designed as a shared surface residential street to keep traffic speeds as low as possible.
At present the road is configured to allow only free movement for pedestrians and cyclists at the northern end of the basin, with access for emergency and maintenance vehicles when required. It is hoped this configuration will allow arguably the most important public realm space within the waterside regeneration zone to be a people place rather than a busy through route for cars.
Spatial Hierarchy - Aerials
The built form proposed configures a hierarchy of spaces of different scales, which in turn supports different house types and shared surface environments. The accompanying aerial views, illustrated here, show the development from all angles and clearly indicate the roof profiles, urban structure, the grain of the built form and the public spaces.
Our diagrams also show the building heights and the way they support the master plan’s spatial structure with taller housing topologies providing strong frontages to both the basin, the riverfront and the triangular pocket park that leads through to Daleside Road.
The urban form is punctuated with what we call 'marker buildings'. These are buildings or individual houses that provide townscape incidence at important junctions throughout the plan. The larger apartment buildings which are arranged as tall villas serve this function on the more expansive frontages, while smaller houses will be detailed to play this same role within the lower scaled sections of the plan.
The new mobility hub building, which will be a little public building set at the northern end of the basin is also planned as an important marker, which can be seen from all vantage points. It is particularly important that it is seen from the new entrance to the site on Daleside Road.
Behind the principal frontage is a sequence of smaller sheltered residential courtyards. These are arranged and connected by semiprivate pedestrian routes. The smaller marker structures (houses with slightly different treatments) within these lower scaled areas also augment important vistas and act as way finders. They also deliver a townscape sequence at a more intimate scale as people move around the development.
Townscape Markers continued
The sheltered courtyards spaces are the complete opposite of the more expansive frontages across the Basin and of course across the wide River Trent. These are sheltered spaces where small children can play, and there can be neighbourly interaction. These spaces generally support the lower scale dwellings. The courtyards are all designed as shared surface spaces with the provision for drop off and disabled parking.
The sketch views that you see here of the River and Basin fronts give a sense of the importance of these principal public thoroughfares and the larger scale buildings that support these routes. The sketch view of one of the residential courtyards illustrates the contrast between these two kinds of environment.
Public Realm Landscaping
It is important to note that the landscape treatments also act in tandem with the organisation of the built form. New landscape and public realm treatments are used to augment the Riverfront path and to provide a public space at the southern end of the basin. A pontoon is proposed within the basin with graduated steps that allow people easy access to the water. The new pocket park at the northern end of the basin is designed as a neighbourhood wide amenity space.
The landscape treatments in the principle public realm contrasts with that proposed within the sheltered housing courtyards. Here shared surfaces, benches, rain gardens and specimen tress create places for immediate neighbours to sit, talk and for children to play.
People Friendly Public Realm
The extensive people friendly public realm that stitches the development together is made possible by the introduction of a 'car barn'. Most of the required parking (although not all) is located within the barn and this frees up space for people and landscape rather than cars. This is not a new idea and was used at the Greenwich Millennium Village 20 years ago where the streets and spaces have become the focus of community life. It was also pioneered at Vauban in Freiberg Germany which is one of Europe's most sustainable developments.
The barn also allows us to future proof car parking requirements without affecting the public realm and provide opportunities for things like car clubs and for efficient electric car and bike charging. This approach means that in the future if car ownership diminishes and more people are prepared to use car clubs or car rental, then the public realm is not sacrificed for cars. It also allows us to design homes that are more sustainable and move us closer to a zero-carbon future. Many more developments throughout the UK are adopting the advantages of this approach.
A Mix of Housing
The accompanying dwelling mix diagram shows the broad range of typologies that the masterplan supports. There are one, two, and three-bedroom apartments as well as two, three and four bedroom family houses. This range of types will help support a mixed neighbourhood of first-time buyers, families and downsizes. A lot of thought has also gone into the way we plan these houses so that they support modern family life with kitchen and living spaces connected directly to gardens, and separate homework stations incorporated as part of the plans. Well planned private amenity spaces and designated home working stations seem even more important in a post Covid world.
Blueprint is also keen to bring architectural variety to the masterplan. With this mind three practices have been engaged. These include our practice Proctor and Matthews Architects, as well as Sarah Wigglesworth Architects and Turner Works. All are involved in creating different housing typologies within the massing and organisation set by the masterplan. The practices are also all interested in context (discussed earlier) and how this can be interpreted in different ways. The accompanying plan shows where each of these practices have been assigned homes to design.
Emergency Access Strategy
Of course, it is important that the masterplan works in detail and particularly from the point of view of access arrangements. We are aware that with masterplans like the one we're proposing here, where there are a lot of shared surface space, that the way we manage the movement of vehicles, particularly emergency and refuse vehicles, is going to be really important in for the success of the neighbourhood.
We have worked closely with our engineers BWB who have tracked the scheme for emergency vehicles so that we conform to Part B rules. This is indicated on the attached plan.
In addition, we have taken advise from Nottingham's waste team on both capacities for central waste arrangement and access rules. We have now met the waste team and they have confirmed that they are happy with what is being proposed. Again, the attached plan indicates how this will work.
In this next stage of the presentation, we look in a little more detail at one part of the masterplan. Illustrated opposite is one of the courtyard clusters of dwellings that make up courtyard 2. These drawings and accompanying notes in both plan and isometric show the design principles applied and make clear how the public and private realm structures work at a smaller scale.
Private & Communal Amenity Space
As with the wider master plan, building frontages combined with garden walls provide a clear definition between the residential courtyards, the private gardens and communal bin stores, which are set within the private areas.
Importantly, these primarily car free residential courtyards allow us to integrate the built form the landscape which is seen in the sketch perspectives of the courtyards. We can also see that the mix of housing delivered across the wider plan is reflected here in one courtyard cluster.
Ground Floor Plans
The detailed ground floor plan of these courtyards shows how the different typologies come together in a seamless built form to support the routes and spaces. The houses are also planned to allow principle spaces to overlook and enjoy the courtyards. The basin front housing has been specifically designed with two front doors, one to the basin and the other to the smaller courtyards behind. Boundary structures in these courtyards give privacy to these dwellings without becoming solid barriers. The sketch perspective shows how they become part of the landscape of these spaces.
First Floor Plans
The housing close to the pedestrian routes that link the courtyards and the basin tow path are also arranged with windows that overlook these spaces. The first and second floor plans (also shown) indicate that fenestration at these levels is maximised to the public realm and minimised on rear elevations to limit any overlooking of private garden spaces. Several of the plans are shown at a larger scale and illustrate the flexible open plan dual aspect family rooms, as well as home working provision and ample storage.
Finally, we have provided some sample elevations prepared by each of the architectural practices. This is very much a work in progress, but you can see that material selection is from the immediate context, either of Nottingham or Trent Basin’s industrial past and details are also being explored that take inspiration from these sources. We look forward to discussing this work further with both planning and urban design officers as we progress to the next stage of work.
The project team has engaged informally with the Council over the past 18 months and so we appreciate that many of you will be familiar with the proposal presented here. We have had very valuable feedback over this period and the current design and presentation has evolved in response to this.
In this first formal engagement, we hope to receive feedback on the strategic issues of urban design, scale and density, access and parking, and our public realm and landscape approach. Blueprint belief these proposals embody all the aspirations set out in the SPD and that they represent the very best in the design of sustainable neighbourhoods and low carbon housing for our age.
Thank you for listening.
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