Berewood: Creating a sustainable community

Berewood: Creating a sustainable community

Many people uphold the vision of a typical English village as an ideal way of living. At the heart of this archetype are a number of qualities, including: strong community, quiet and natural surroundings, pleasant accommodation, good air quality.

Now, in the 21st century, that ideal needs to evolve in order to maintain the merits of the traditional model, while meeting current needs, such as modern retail and service facilities. There’s also the imperative of reducing carbon footprint and flood risk.

Mayer Brown is acting as design engineer in an innovative project at Berewood, near Waterlooville in Hampshire, which is combining traditional village characteristics with breakthrough technology and creative thinking, to create what the site’s developer, Grainger, envisions will be a ‘village conservation area of the future’.

Mayer Brown has been working on Berewood since 2003 and is part of a dynamic project team, assembled by Grainger, that puts sustainability best practice and community cohesion at the very heart of the project.

Village living for the 21st century

The development is being created on a 208.4 hectare green field site, and will eventually comprise 2,550 new homes, retail areas, a primary school and various community facilities. It has been designed to bring considerable social and environmental value to the area and to have as little impact on the natural environment as possible.

One of the key features of the project is a comprehensive development-wide sustainable drainage system (SuDS).

Freedom from flood risk

Global warming means that news footage of picturesque English villages devastated by floods is becoming increasingly familiar.

To enable development without making flooding worse for communities down-river of the site, cutting-edge infrastructure has been designed and implemented to counteract flood risk in a way that traditional building methods do not. The use of SuDS is intended to minimise flood risk, as well as improve water quality and encourage biodiversity. 

Mayer Brown has designed the SuDS for Berewood, which consist of interlinked drainage and landscaping with a mix of vegetated channels, attenuation basins, ponds, wetlands and swales combined with underground storage tanks, silt removal chambers and flow restriction devices. In addition, the River Wallington has been opened up to significantly increase the channel cross section, providing greater capacity for attenuation, which greatly reduces flood risk on site adjacent to the river and provides a more pleasant landscape setting.

The infrastructure works have been delivered in partnership with main contractor PJ Careys to create something new and ground breaking in terms of the scale and visual appeal as an infrastructure framework for the new development.

‘At Berewood we had the right team in place, who were proactive and happy to think differently to find aspects of our work that could be enhanced and value engineered,’ says PJ Careys’ contracts manager Mick Futcher.

‘From this, our delivery programme evolved to meet the client’s objectives. We had a good working relationship with the project partners and subsequently a number of great contributions resulted from our site team. This included community benefits and project-wide carbon savings. 

‘The SuDS here is extensive and will ultimately prove the success of the development in years to come through flood management, as it is joined up with lots of other aspects of the development.

‘There is a large amount of work just on the aesthetic side of it: the swales were all planted with wildflower seeds, and the headwalls are built in flint.’

Recipe for success

The recipe for building a successful community is one of bringing together the right ingredients and then working with them in a way that starts with the physical infrastructure but which is geared towards the everyday reality of social existence far into the future.

The partnership that’s creating the Berewood development is doing this by putting sustainable construction at the heart of the project. Elements to achieve the vision include:

  • Community engagement
  • Using 70% local workforce
  • SuDS
  • Enhanced ecology
  • Re-using materials on-site
  • Reducing concrete use
  • Using 47% local suppliers

Being part of a development like that at Berewood is exciting. It will not only create a strong and cohesive community for future residents and businesses, but the innovative and creative approach will undoubtedly offer a design for living that can be emulated and developed further at other sites. This in turn, will create a new way of living that’s great to be part of and which offers a sustainable future for the British countryside.

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