To revive and enhance the Black Country’s under-used land assets, particularly brownfield sites.
The Black Country is scattered with over 550 vacant brownfield sites, with the potential to deliver 45,000 new homes. A Garden City should aim to add value to derelict land through appreciating it in the context of its surrounding environment- is there a local canal front we can enhance? Can we incorporate local greenery? Can I easily walk to town, or catch a bus or train?
To maintain and make the most of the Black Country’s existing assets.
The Black Country was, and is still, very well known for its manufacturing industry, which is remains reflected in the character of certain town centres, such as Willenhall. As well as that, the Black Country has veins of multiple canals running through it. A Garden City should embrace and enhance the legacy of the Black Country, through incorporating these assets, rather than designing them out.
To integrate open green spaces, planting and home food-growing into homes and neighbourhoods.
Evidence shows that people with access to green spaces, live healthier and happier lives. The Black Country is spotted with plenty of green spaces, ranging from larger parks like the Walsall Arboretum and Sandwell Valley, to smaller neighbourhood greens. A Garden City should encourage the use of such greenery, through incorporating open and shared spaces into the development, as well as creating accessibility to existing local greenery, to achieve walkable, vibrant and sociable neighbourhoods.
To ensure connectivity via all modes of transport, particularly public transport, walkability and cycling.
The Black Country is at the heart of the West Midlands, with various transport links leading to every corner of the country. With the new Metro link across the Black Country, by 2023 it will be easier than ever to walk from home, onto a tram, straight into Birmingham City Centre, onto another train from New Street or Moor Street stations to anywhere in the country. And with Birmingham being the centre of the HS2 Hub, the opportunities are vast. Links also exist to the Birmingham, East Midlands, Manchester and Heathrow airports, for international flights via the M6 and M1 motorways. A Garden City should embrace the opportunities of transport links through recognising, and enhancing, connectivity in a healthy way- encouraging walking, cycling and use of public transport.
To ensure easy and convenient access to local facilities and services, such as schools, health care and shops, and preventing isolation.
In the past 20 years, England has seen the closure of many schools, post offices, pubs and so on. It is evident that such services provide natural interaction, preventing social polarisation, and in turn creating a better quality of life. As well as that, easy access to education and healthcare provisions are key to any development. A Garden City should provide all residents with equal opportunities through ensuring access to a range of facilities, services and amenities.
To have a clear identity and be distinct from the surrounding developments.
Taking into account the surrounding environment, existing assets and features of the Black Country should create a distinctive development that stands out from its surrounding in a positive manner. A Garden City should be a development incorporating innovative design and “thinking outside of the box” in developing, with a strong character and a sense of identity.
To support and encourage growth in current and new business.
The Black Country is home to numerous businesses of all sizes, from local to national. The region thrives from high earning jobs in its advanced manufacturing industries and Birmingham’s professional services sector. The Black Country has the UK’s highest concentration of manufacturing, with major companies in the aerospace and automotive sectors, including Jaguar Land Rover, who have opened their engine manufacturing centre in the Black Country Enterprise Zone. A Garden City should support enterprise growth within the region and embrace the existing economy through enhancing existing businesses, particularly small local businesses.
To give residents the voice to manage and build their community.
The key to creating a community is engaging and interacting with residents to respond to their wants and needs- creating a shared sense of pride within neighbourhoods; a sense of place; and a sense of belonging to a community. Community cohesion draws a line through creating segregation, social polarisation and resulting mental health issues. A Garden City will engage its residents throughout the development process, providing homes, not just houses.
To harness technical innovation on a small and large scale within developments.
With fast moving technological advancements, the potential to incorporate these into developments is vast. The European Smart City Framework, identifies various themes in which we can be “Smart”, the following three can be influenced through development;
• Smart environment- energy efficient buildings; low carbon and renewable energy generation and distribution; urban services.
• Smart people- provision of education and training; social inclusion; encouraging creativity and innovation; and personal data management
• Smart living- behaviour and consumption; healthy lifestyles; quality housing, amenities and services; cultural vibrancy; and social cohesion.
A Garden City should aim to encourage environmentally-friendly ways of living, through provision of smart technology on either a small or large scale.
To promote and encourage living healthy lifestyles.
It is proven that there is a strong relationship between the environment in which people live and their health outcomes; if one lives in a quality-built, well-thought after environment that in itself will have a positive impact in terms of quality of life. All of the principles in some way relate and have impact on health i.e. garden, engaging, connectivity, facilities and services include social factors- it is well known that the key determinates of health are social (as shown below). Through encouraging walking/cycling; use of public transport; organic foods and community cohesion, the physical and mental health of a community can drastically improve; preventing obesity, depression, social polarisation etc., which in turn reduces stress on public services and leads for a happier life. A Garden City should recognise that everything within it is health related and should aim to promote healthier lifestyles, whether in an obvious way or not.