As Scotland sees 2016 as the opportunity to focus on Innovation, Architecture and Design, Taylor Wimpey West Scotland has been working in partnership with the Scottish Government, Central Scotland Green Network Trust and academia on an innovative ’Greener Gardens’ project - that looks at how gardens of new homes can be used to contribute to green infrastructure, biodiversity and storm water management.
The project features a number of strands - all designed to encourage the development of sustainable places – including installation of demonstration raingardens, academic research, provision of water butts as part of the package for new homeowners, and raising awareness by promoting the benefits of raingardens both to homeowners and the wider house building industry.
Together with project partners – C&D Associates, Abertay University and Central Scotland Green Network Trust (CSGNT) – Taylor Wimpey has installed two types of raingarden and a ‘SUDSbox’ (Sustainable Urban Drainage System) at its Torrance Park development of new homes in Holytown, North Lanarkshire.
As part of the Torrance Park Water Project, Taylor Wimpey West Scotland is also funding two years of research of the installation by project partners Abertay University to further investigate how source control SUDS in new housing developments can contribute to storm water management and reduce downstream flooding.
Whilst the research takes place, to encourage homeowners to get involved and to highlight the importance that Greener Gardens will play in the future, Taylor Wimpey West Scotland, Scottish Government and CSGNT have joined forces to provide and install a free 200 litre water butt to the first 80 new homes at the Torrance Park development. These will act as a visible reminder to residents about the need to be more aware of water use and how little changes can have a big impact on the environment.
As part of the overall approach to creating a Greener Garden the team has created a homeowners’ leaflet that encourages homeowners to consider how they might achieve a raingarden in their own garden, and how a water butt provides a useful way to conserve and use rainwater effectively as a first step towards achieving a sustainable Greener Garden.
Raising the awareness of this innovative project has overall benefits for a wide audience as Stephen Andrew, Technical Director for Taylor Wimpey West Scotland explains: “Along with our project partners we are leading the way both in research and analysis of raingardens at plot level.
“We believe the inclusion of raingardens within house plots can contribute positively to help the industry deal with storm water management in a sustainable way as a source control SUDS technique.
“We are really excited to be at the forefront of this project which we believe will provide us with valuable insight into how our industry will adapt and plan for the challenges brought about by climate change.”
The project is leading the way in innovation within this area for the housebuilding industry, as Andrews adds: “The Torrance Water Project received valuable recognition in last year’s VIBES Awards (Vision in Business for the Environment Awards). And as the year of Innovation, Architecture and Design provides a focus on innovative projects like ours, we will look at ways in which we can continue to evolve our work in this area.
Keith Geddes, Chair of CSGNT, said: “Greener Gardens is helping us to work with developers to educate homeowners about how they can play their part and make a difference to the wider environment by considering how they plan and plant gardens.
“As well as helping to manage rain water, raingardens provide much needed habitats for nature which supports and improves biodiversity in the local area. The Torrance Park Water Project gives us an opportunity to evaluate these benefits and show how green infrastructure in gardens can achieve better quality environments for our communities.”
Minister for Local Government and Housing, Kevin Stewart said: “Greener Gardens’ is a practical project which demonstrates a new way to implement the principles in our “Green Infrastructure: Design and Placemaking” guidance.
“The purpose of our involvement and providing funding support was to work with a housebuilder and progress work on mainstreaming raingardens in new developments, recognising how at a larger scale this could contribute to the Central Scotland Green Network national development.
“Through the partnership we are aiming to show how there can be effective solutions for both individual homeowners, as well as the wider housebuilding industry to create sustainable gardens and developments whilst encouraging biodiversity.
“We believe Taylor Wimpey West Scotland is the first volume housebuilder in Scotland to pioneer work on raingardens and commend their commitment to green infrastructure, and hope this project will flourish and inspire other developers to green their gardens.”
The project team has also collaborated to create a ‘Developer’s Guide’ that aims to introduce the concept of greener gardens to the wider housebuilding industry, and provide guidance on how small changes can make a huge impact on the wider green infrastructure, bio-diversity and storm water management and how their future developments can embrace this thinking. A copy of this guide is available at www.centralscotlandgreennetwork.org/greenergardens.
Taylor Wimpey West Scotland has also teamed up with Abertay University to offer a learning package which is aimed at Primary 3 children to highlight raingardens, sustainable drainage and the environment. Pupils from Holytown Primary School will be the first to benefit from the school with a series of classroom talks and discussions, interactive activities and local show and tell walk-abouts in the local community to learn more about the concept of Greener Gardens.
Dr Rebecca Wade from the Urban Water Technology Centre at Abertay University said: “Collaboration between education and industry can really make a difference! This demonstration site and partnership have grown out of collaborative work on a stormwater management MSc project developed by Dr Brian D’Arcy (C&D Associates) together with myself at Abertay University.
“It involved testing a new product (‘SUDSbox’) designed by C&D Associates. Our MSc Student (James Travers) worked with Taylor Wimpey West Scotland who agreed to install this innovative technology at one of their sites, and to enable us to monitor how well it works.
“The project developed into an award-winning partnership! By working together, we can help deliver better environments which work harder for us – providing communities with attractive areas to live and play, supporting nature, and tackling flooding and climate change issues too.”