Background

The Maidenhill area of East Renfrewshire was identified in the East Renfrewshire Local Development Plan as a mixed use land release capable of providing over 1000 new homes.  The former greenbelt designated site extends to 85ha and is defined by the M77 and the Glasgow Southern Orbital route.

An aspirational vision of delivering a high quality green development is controlled through supplementary Planning Guidance and a Master planning process. Land ownership currently lies with five private sector owners/developers who have been closely been involved in the evolution and preparation of the Masterplan. The local community had originally raised objections to the loss of the greenbelt site.   In response to these concerns, East Renfrewshire Council created a Masterplan with a strong integrated Green Network at its core.

The wider area includes Dams to Darnley Country Park, a valuable recreational resource to both existing and new residents. Future investment is set to transform this into one of the area’s most important leisure facilities.

Vision

The Masterplan’s vision is that Maidenhill will ‘provide an attractive and distinctive landscape setting that will enhance the green network’. This is provided for within a landscape framework that will ensure an integrated approach to amenity, connectivity, biodiversity, ecology and drainage. Also a Roads, Access and Transport Strategy that will encourage the use of public transport, cycling and walking.

The Masterplan and framework were created with invaluable support from GCV Green Network Partnership, helping ensure a high quality Green Network which will play a central role in the Maidenhill development. The Masterplan encourages the utilisation of the natural environment to create an attractive and unusual development. This includes using existing varied topography, natural features like rocks and, where possible, retaining existing vegetation.

Outputs and Outcomes

Maidenhill will be a multifunctional integrated space where site features have several roles to play. For example, a central green spine running through the site will be linked to informal and formal play areas and also community spaces. This crucial recreation and social space will also act as a habitat corridor - so it is good for wildlife too. The proposed naturalised sustainable urban drainage (SuDS) ponds, swales and water courses will also be beneficial in this respect and will help improve the general attractiveness of the area, whilst providing essential water management functions.

The expectation is that residents should be able to access the Green Network from their front door and use it as a way of moving safely and easily around and out of the development. An integrated cycling and path network with multiple access points is intended to encourage people out of their cars and take up more sustainable and healthy methods of transport.

Strong structural landscaping is part of the integration of the Green Network. The Masterplan calls for the retention of the positive and distinctive features of the site such as the rocky outcrops and hills. Although this may incur logistical issues and extra expense for the developers, the unique place that will be created lends itself well to the creation of informal play areas and social spaces and, ultimately, the housing will be more desirable and command a higher market value.

Early Achievements

This development had been considered for a number of years. However, adjoining housing areas were prone to flooding and this raised concerns which hampered progress. GCV Green Network Partnership offered support to overcome this. A key piece of help was to assist in drafting a consultant brief to undertake a hydrological scoping study. This was a vital starting point as the whole development hinges on ensuring a sustainable approach is taken to water management, drainage, flood risk and water quality.

Another achievement was getting all the five developers to accept the Green Network running through and connecting all parts of the site. This involved creating a joined up collaborative approach between the developers in order to reach the same goal. The ‘green spine’ and the connected informal play and socialising areas is now an agreed fundamental feature and it will be the location of a new primary school.

One of the factors which helps offset the loss of greenbelt has been the agreement of developers to contribute towards the improvement and development of nearby greenspace. In particular, Dams to Darnley Country Park lies within easy reach of the site and will benefit in this respect.

Overcoming Challenges

As a greenbelt release, Maidenhill was highly sensitive and local community concerns were focused on the loss of green amenity as a result of this and other recent development. Initial proposals contained within the Local Development Plan received more than 500 objections. The Masterplan process sought to address this and sets out a strong series of targets for the development which will support the delivery of a high quality green infrastructure. Following a number of consultation events and engagement, the number of objections to the Supplementary Planning Guidance and masterplan fell to just 36.

The site is highly visible from the M77 and Glasgow South Orbital road. As such, it is a window into this part of East Renfrewshire and important that people passing by gain a positive impression. From a residential perspective, sound attenuation is required adjacent to these busy roads. This is not so much a challenge but an opportunity to find innovative green solutions to these issues and suitable GI such as ‘green walls’ is being investigated.

Drainage and flooding is also a sensitive local issue and the masterplanning process has tried to allay local concerns that the development may exacerbate drainage problems. As set out in the Supplementary Planning Guidance, there are strict requirements to tackle this issue. However, there remains a key challenge for all stakeholders to be closely monitored in this  respect to deliver the vision of an exemplar integrated, sustainable and environmentally attractive SuDS throughout the masterplan area.

Next Steps

Now that the planning application process has commenced, the Council is continuing to engage with the owners/developers to ensure compliance with Masterplan vision. Continued successful collaborative working between developers is encouraged to deliver the Masterplan over the phased stages. A key requirement will be the delivery of 2 new primary schools. The first school will commence construction in April 2016 with completion in time for August 2017.