Ex-CABE space director Sarah Gaventa on her new role as design director and Remarkable Cities curator at place-making consultancy Beyond Green
What is Beyond Green?
An umbrella for Beyond Green Developments and for Remarkable Cities. Both initiatives have a mission to promote and deliver sustainable places. Beyond Green Developments works with places and neighbourhoods to help plan, finance, design, build and be stewards of elegant, resilient, adaptable and inclusive places.
What is its biggest achievement to date?
Late September Beyond Green Developments secured outline planning consent for Beeston Park, a new community of more than 3,500 homes and 1,000 jobs in Broadland, north-east of Norwich. We are pursuing other development opportunities as well as working on the delivery of the first phase of Beeston Park, where we expect the first home to be occupied in spring 2016.
Are you looking for architects?
We are working with many good architects including Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Mole, 5th Studio and Karakusevic Carson. We are keen to work with local and emerging talent based where our projects are located. We like to work with firms that share our passion for creating innovative, high-quality residential neighbourhoods; which are urbanist in approach and understand the wider importance of place-making.
What is the Remarkable Cities programme?
During the recession there was no time (or budget) to learn; it was about survival. It was also when so much expertise and capacity disappeared, especially from local government. Most key decision makers are not city experts, but their work has a major impact on the way our cities look and function. The aim of the Remarkable Cities programme is to help people to be better informed, ask the right questions to specialists and demand more from them. Looking at best practice and smart approaches can help shape a clearer vision of how we want our cities and neighbourhoods to be in 10 to 20 years’ time.
What is the general appetite for thinking about cities?
It is heartening to see that long-term thinking has returned, partly as we see skyscrapers rising around us – the hasty mistakes of those who took their eyes off the vision. There are opportunities to find solutions that solve multiple problems. It feels like everyone is talking about cities, but there is still more rhetoric than action.
What do you think about the government’s stance on cities outside London?
Outside the capital, Local Enterprise Partnerships need support to deliver projects, using the Local Growth Fund, which are of the highest quality, feel part of that city and are truly sustainable.