North Sprowston and Old Catton shortlisted for a RTPI 2014 Planning Excellence Award


North Sprowston and Old Catton (NS&OC), a new community to be developed in Broadland, north-east of Norwich, has been shortlisted for a Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) 2014 Planning Excellence Award.

The project, nominated jointly by developers Beyond Green and local planning authority Broadland District Council, has been shortlisted in the category of “exemplary planning to deliver housing” and is up against a shortlist of projects from across the country for the prestigious award.

Broadland Council resolved to grant outline planning permission for the scheme in September 2013 and, following the necessary legal agreements and detailed planning, work is expected to start on site in 2015. Key elements of the project include 3,520 homes, 1,000 jobs, a new high street and square with local shops and services, two primary schools and the dedication of historic Beeston Park as a new country park serving the whole area.

Beyond Green planning director Neil Murphy said, “North Sprowston and Old Catton is intended to be a blueprint for a place that offers a high quality of life with a very small carbon footprint, combining proven features of places people like – such as proper streets, accessible local services and well-built adaptable homes – with the best of contemporary sustainable design. Broadland Council’s cooperation and support is crucial to the project taking shape and we are delighted to have been able to nominate the plan jointly with the Council.”

Cllr Shaun Vincent, Portfolio Holder for Planning at Broadland District Council, said, “Broadland continues to support the right type of development in the right locations and we are convinced that this scheme is an exemplary proposal which will bring many benefits to the area. We are therefore very pleased that it has been recognised as such by the professional body for planning in England.”

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on 23rd June. Details of our proposals for North Sprowston and Old Catton can be found here.

Jonathan Smales speaking at Norfolk Constructing Excellence Club


This evening Jonathan Smales, Executive Chairman of Beyond Green will be speaking at the Norfolk Constructing Excellence Club’s meeting on sustainability.

Jonathan’s  presentation – The Urgent and Remarkable Future: How Shall We Live? – will consider the need for remarkable transformations in how we live as inspired and enabled by where we live. Not only are the challenges remarkable but so too are the opportunities if we grasp them on our increasingly hot, flat and crowded planet. He will examine these issues through the lens of the city and urban places, spaces and infrastructure, with the conclusion that we can live well, affordably and sustainably if we have the right mindset.

Bruce McVean to advise London Health Commission


The London Health Commission is an independent inquiry chaired by Lord Darzi and reporting directly to the Mayor of London. The Commission will examine how London’s health and healthcare can be improved for the benefit of the population.

Bruce McVean has been invited to advise the Commission on the relationship between the built environment and health. Bruce’s expertise in this area includes integrating health into Beyond Green’s development and consultancy projects, helping to draft NICE’s guidance on physical activity and the built environment and, prior to joining Beyond Green, leading CABE’s policy work on health.

The London Health Commission has issued a call for evidence to inform its analysis and recommendations. The deadline for submissions is Monday 10th February – details of how to submit evidence can be found here.

Neil Murphy speaking at Newcastle’s Love Cycling, Go Dutch conference


Neil Murphy, Beyond Green’s Director of Planning, Policy and Economics will be speaking at the Love Cycling, Go Dutch conference in Newcastle on Tuesday 5th November.

The conference will show how Dutch politicians and planners have succeeded in building high cycling levels with public support and consider how this can be achieved in Newcastle and surroundings. The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands will be hosting the event in collaboration with Newcastle City Council, Newcastle Cycling Campaign and Cycle Nation and the Dutch Cycling Embassy.

Neil’s presentation will consider how new developments can and should provide for cycling (and why they often don’t), and how that provision can act as a catalyst for wider change across the city. He will explain how cycling is integrated into Beyond Green’s proposals for North Sprowston and Old Catton, north of Norwich, and consider how successful recent developments in Newcastle have been at creating conditions that will encourage and enable residents to cycle as part of their daily routine.

Beyond Green and Schulze+Grassov’s joint venture – a fresh approach to public realm design

JV Launch Web Header

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new joint venture between Beyond Green and Schulze+Grassov – with offices in London and Copenhagen – to provide inspiring ideas and processes, trans-disciplinary collaboration and rigorous design for remarkable cities. With deep experience in urbanism and sustainability and an initial focus on the planning and design of urban public realm we aim to provide essential services at all scales.

Cities and city places, spaces and infrastructure need to be made and re-made to meet the urgent, unprecedented and remarkable ecological, economic and social challenges of the 21st Century.

The pressing need to live more sustainably – even as we live well – can be both inspired and enabled by wonderful, humane, city neighbourhoods. But, make no mistake, there must and will be rapid change to these neighbourhoods: improving connectivity, reinforcing centres and high streets, re-configuring streets for people, inherently safe everyday cycling and a new generation of renewably powered electric vehicles. We need abundant and productive green to leaven the essential intensification of urban environments, new smart grids for clean energy and intelligent services. And the urbanism – the quality of the places we live and work in – must become far more liveable.

With these priorities in mind our joint venture offers a new approach to public realm design services that combines the know-how and sensibilities of British, Danish and German city-strategists, sustainability & behavioural experts and designers from Beyond Green and Schulze+Grassov.

The posters below are available to download here and the launch brochure, with details of our service offer, can be downloaded here.

Farrell review: Jonathan Smales on sustainability in the built environment

The Farrell Review

In his contribution to Sir Terry Farrell’s independent Review of Architecture and the Built Environment, Jonathan Smales discusses sustainability in the built environment.

The headlines:

  • Sustainable built environments in cities are better for us and better for the economy; they are radically affordable and will drive remarkable innovation; they should be at the heart of politics and business
  • Cities are the principal human habitat – improving cities and delegating powers to cities is one of the quickest ways to a dynamic low carbon economy
  • Education and training in cities, urbanism and strategic sustainability is woeful and must be improved
  • City streets and suburban transport networks need a bold overhaul for healthy, low carbon movement – it will save £billions and greatly improve the quality of most people’s lives
  • Urgent need to enhance city government borrowing and tax raising powers so that they can invest and innovate for the good of their economies and citizens, but need to work through public/private partnerships
  • Smart grids connected to big regional and national grids in cities not local renewables
  • Carbon taxes are both essential and will improve our global competitiveness
  • City neighbourhoods must be intensified and the suburbs re-purposed with more and higher building (still human scale) mixed-use centres, local energy generation and food production

Read Jonathan’s full submission here.

New community to set UK benchmark for sustainable places

NS&OC Main Square web

Plans for the most authentically sustainable new development ever built in the UK are set to become reality after councillors resolved to grant the proposals outline planning consent on Wednesday.

Broadland District Council’s planning committee voted by a majority of 14-1 to approve the application, which has been brought forward by Beyond Green Developments and financed by Development Securities plc. It incorporates 3,520 homes, 1,000 jobs and local shops and services at North Sprowston and Old Catton (NS&OC), north of Norwich.  The proposals also include sites for two new primary schools, new and improved bus services, over 80 hectares of green space including a major new Country Park in a restored historic parkland, a very low-carbon decentralised energy network, and infrastructure to enable the achievement of water neutrality.

Beyond Green’s Executive Chairman, Jonathan Smales, said: “Sustainable development has become a debased term in the UK, covering everything from housing estates with photovoltaic panels on every roof and two cars on every drive to one-off so-called zero-carbon curios.  Sustainability isn’t just about buildings, it’s about how we live in a radically carbon- and resource-constrained world.  We’ve got to start making proper places again that let us live terrific lives with tiny environmental footprints.  We’ve got to make culture change to low-carbon living easy and attractive and that’s what NS&OC is intended to do…”

Download the full article here.

Further information can be found in the Notes to Editors here and on our website here. If you would like to receive updates on NS&OC, please email asking to be added to our mailing list.

North Sprowston and Old Catton – resolution to grant consent

120930 DAS COVER v low res

Broadland District Council on Wednesday resolved to grant outline planning consent to Beyond Green Developments’ proposals for a 3,520-home sustainable urban extension north of Sprowston and Old Catton.  A meeting of the Council’s Planning Committee approved the plans subject to the signing of a Section 106 agreement.

Development at North Sprowston and Old Catton (NS&OC) will provide:

  • up to 3,520 homes of mixed size, tenure and type including up to 33% affordable homes;
  • up to 16,800m² of business and employment space creating 1,000 local jobs by the time the development is completed (with another 200 created during construction);
  • up to 8,800m² of retail and service development providing for shops, banks, cafés, restaurants, pubs and other essential local services to meet local people’s daily needs in a traditional high street setting;
  • sites for two new primary schools and up to 2,000m² of community space including two community halls, a health centre and library;
  • up to 1,000m² of hotel or guesthouse accommodation;
  • easy access to public transport and streets designed to make walking and cycling the most convenient modes of transport;
  • over 80 hectares of green space including a major new public park at Beeston Park, three recreation grounds, allotments and community gardens, with 40% of the site, not including private gardens, becoming accessible green space; and
  • a very low-carbon decentralised energy network, plus infrastructure to manage water resources sustainably.

Jonathan Smales, Executive Chairman of the Beyond Green Group, said “We’re delighted that Broadland District Council has resolved to grant outline planning consent to our proposals for North Sprowston and Old Catton.  A huge amount of work has gone into making the case for a sustainable new community here – not just by Beyond Green, the landowners and our partners Development Securities but by local people, councillors, community organisations and businesses who committed their enterprise, local knowledge and time to helping to define what a superb new community in Broadland might be.

“This is the start not the end of the journey and we look forward to redoubling our efforts to engage local people in detailed design and planning – and ultimately to building a place that fulfils the project vision of a very high quality of life with a very small environmental footprint.”

The application site is within the Broadland ‘Growth Triangle’ proposed for at least 7,000 dwellings by 2026 rising to at least 10,000 after 2026; this is inclusive of the up to 3,520 homes at NS&OC.  Consideration of the outline planning application, which was submitted in October 2012, was delayed pending the emergence of revised policies in light of the High Court judgement in Heard vs Broadland in early 2012.

Beyond Green Director of Planning Neil Murphy said:

“Although the revised Joint Core Strategy policies are not yet adopted, it is now clear that our proposals for NS&OC accord with Broadland Councils vision and emerging policies for the area and can make a major contribution to providing homes in the right place as part of a balanced and sustainable pattern of growth.  By resolving to grant planning consent, Broadland Council is sending a clear message that it’s now time to get on with delivery.  We will now press on with a design code and detailed applications with the intention of the scheme starting on-site in 2015.”

Further information can be found in the Notes to Editors which you can download here. Details of the outline planning application for NS&OC can be found on our website here. If you would like to receive updates on NS&OC, please email asking to be added to our mailing list.

Reading List: 16 Unmissable Books About Cities


This article by Bruce McVean originally appeared on the sustainable cities website This Big City.

Over the last eight weeks I, together with my colleagues Matt Dearlove and Neil Murphy, have been teaching a course called The New City at Cambridge University, part of the Pembroke-Kings Programme.

The course aimed to give students from a variety of backgrounds an overview of the challenges and opportunities facing cities over the coming decades. To examine how cities can be re-made in ways that will inspire and enable all to live well and within tightly bounded environmental limits. In short, how to ensure cities and their citizens thrive in an uncertain future?

Putting together the lectures and readings meant going back through some of the books on my shelves in search of references – a rewarding activity in itself. Like most This Big City readers I’m constantly on the lookout for good writing about cities – there’s no shortage of it on the Internet of course, but sometimes it’s great to settle down with a longer read and lose yourself in a good book. With that in mind I thought I’d share the reading list we put together for the course. I’d happily recommend all the books below, although some have a more specialist focus than others.

Clearly this isn’t a definitive list, there are plenty of great books that aren’t included (Jeff Speck’s The Walkable City and John Reader’s Cities are just two examples from a very long list).

Bruce McVean to chair Hackney Cycling Conference

Hackney Cycling Conference

Bruce McVean, Beyond Green’s Integrated Design Manager and Founder of Movement for Liveable London will chair the afternoon session at the 2013 Hackney Cycling Conference, which is being held at Hackney Town Hall on Thursday 6th June, 9am-4pm.

The conference will explore the potential to turn recent high level political support for cycling, ambitious policy statements and successful campaigns into real change on the ground and create conditions that encourage a significant increase in the number of people riding bikes.

Speakers include:

  • Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney
  • Andrew Gilligan, London Cycling Commissioner on the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling
  • Prof. Phil Goodwin, University of the West of England and author of the APPCG report ‘Get Britain Cycling’
  • Dr Adrian Davis, Bristol City Council on the Bristol model for collaboration on public health and transport
  • Prof. Harry Rutter, Public Health England and Halsa Consulting on cycling risks and benefits
  • Chris Procter, Design and Engineering Manager at Hackney Council on the principles of permeability
  • Sophie Tyler, The Means on cycling and retail
  • Oliver Schick, London Cycling Campaign in Hackney on building local support for road space reallocation
  • The Canal and River Trust on managing shared space on Greenways
  • Mark Strong, Transport Initiatives on designing for different kerb-side needs

The Hackney Cycling Conference is organised by Hackney Council and London Cycling Campaign in Hackney. You can register to attend and find more information here (registration fee £25).