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A city worth living in COOMBS JONES

@coombsjones info@coombsjones.com www.coombsjones.com

Introduction This report outlines the process and outcomes of a workshop facilitated by Coombs Jones for Design Commission for Wales’ Autumn seminar, ‘City Futures: Challenge and Opportunity in an Urbanising World’, held at the Waterfront Museum in Swansea, 10th October 2014. Swansea has a vision of “sustainable, distinct communities in both urban and rural locations, that benefit from sufficient good quality housing, supporting infrastructure, community facilities and opportunities for recreation” (LDP vision). However, a recent Swansea LDP Topic Paper (2013) on Housing highlighted a number of challenges faced by the city including a widening gap between housing need and supply, a shortage of affordable housing and the need to upgrade existing housing stock. How can the challenges faced by the city be transformed to meet this vision?

workshop aims and objectives How can we create great places to live, work and play?


Proposed outcomes:

Through this workshop we aimed to:

The workshop was be participative. While exemplars were be introduced to the workshop, their comparative successes and transferability were assessed in groups exploring different scales of the city. We aimed to deliver:

• Gain an understanding of what people need from where they live • Draw comparison between Swansea and exemplary European cities of a similar scale • Explore what makes good quality, successful communities in these cities • Draw lessons from these examples that could be transferrable to Swansea • Explore what this means for policy-makers, developers, planners and designers.

• A mapping of Swansea examining the city at different scales as a place to live • An assessment of different types of successful sustainable neighbourhoods, their delivery methods and their potential for application in Swansea

the city context


51째 37 N, 3째 57 W Population: 239,000 Density: 601/km2

setting the scene “Sustainable, distinct communities in both urban and rural locations, that benefit from sufficient good quality housing, supporting infrastructure, community facilities and opportunities for recreation” The statement above is taken from Swansea’s LDP Vision and outlines the aim for Swansea as a place to live. Recently a growth in regeneration projects in Swansea City Centre has seen the delivery of a number of individual commercial developments completed and significant investment in public realm and infrastructure improvements. Development of the waterfront is ongoing with support of the Welsh Government. A concerted, city and region wide strategy has potential to make the city a great place to live, work and play. A part of this vision will be the delivery of new homes and communities. The recent housing topic paper as part of the LDP consultation suggested a medium growth scenario for the city would require the delivery of 16,100 new homes by 2025: • 9,000 market homes • 7,100 affordable homes The city has an above average share of LSOA’s in top 10% most deprived in Wales; 19,800 (19%) live in unsuitable housing. This suggests that as well as new homes, a focus on refurbishment or retrofit of existing homes will also be required to ensure high quality housing for all.

Learning from Europe


47째59 N 7째51 E Population: 218,043 Density: 1,400/km2

freiburg Energy from sustainable sources, attractive sustainable public transport and low energy house building standards make Freiburg one of the most sustainable cities in Europe. Why Freiburg? Resistance to a nuclear power plant in the 1970’s sparked social, environmental and political initiatives for a more livable, sustainable city. In 1996, Freiburg set a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 25% by 2010. Emissions were reduced (although not by as much was hoped) by targeted actions and in particular reducing emissions from transport. Almost 50% of the city’s electricity is today generated by combined heating and power plants. The city aims to use 100% renewable energy by 2050 and to reduce CO2 emissions by 2030 by 40%. The city links sustainable development, business and education. Developing expertise in research and marketing of renewable energy has made the city a hub for emerging green businesses.

vauban district Key facts:

Lessons for Swansea:

5,500 inhabitants 38 Ha A new build neighbourhood

Co-operative and participatory development which meets ecological, social, economical and cultural requirements, Support for self build & Baugruppen development.

Description: The former site of a French barracks, the redevelopment of Vauban focussed on implementing a new city district in a cooperative and participatory way that meets ecological, social and cultural goals. A citizen association (an NGO) applied to coordinate the urban planning process. All houses are built to a low energy standard, but many go beyond this to deliver PassivHaus or ‘PlusEnergy’ standard homes. A district wide Combined Heat and Power plant is combined with 450m2 of solar collectors and 1200m2 of photovoltaics. Cars are limited to the periphery of the development (over 40% of households have no car). Car sharing, good public transport links and a focus on cycling and pedestrian routes reduce emissions from transport. Joint building projects (Baugruppen, cooperative and co-housing) have delivered many of the new properties.

Low energy targets Integral to design code Detached houses prohibited - increases density Reduced car use and support for car free living Early consideration of community-wide energy infrastructure Integrated neighbourhhood Good connections, local shops, a school, a community centre and nursery support new housing Protection of mature landscape Community involvement in public space design


55°36 N 13°02 E Population: 303,873 Density: 897/km2

Malmรถ A port city with a past in manufacturing that is recreating itself as a centre for knowledge. Key Facts: Population 303.873 24% of inhabitants from abroad 40% of inhabitants under 40 Description: Malmo was one of the first cities in Sweden to industrialise but suffered from unemployment and closure of industry. Since the construction of the Oresund Bridge linking Denmark and Sweden, the city has undergone major development and reconstruction. The city is in transition from an industrial to a knowledge economy, based on investments in new technologies and a new university, founded in 1998. Investment in sustainable housing and infrastructure has made the city a world leader in the design and delivery of sustainable neighbourhoods.

BO 01: the city of tomorrow Key facts:

Lessons for Swansea:

5,500 inhabitants A new build exhibition neighbourhood

‘Quality Programme’ A minimum requirement for quality & sustainability. A consensus document agreed with developers.

Description: Perhaps the best known sustainable neighbourhood in Malmo, Bo 01 was developed as an exhibition neighbourhood to trial measures for use across the city. A regeneration of an industrial harbour, the neighbourhood is a dense neighbourhood planned around green spaces. Designed to use the microclimate, taller buildings around the outskirts form a wind shelter to the lower housing within. The neighbourhood uses 100% locally sourced renewable energy thorugh a combination of solar thermal water heating, photovoltaic panels and use of aquifers as thermal stores. Green spaces are integral to the masterplan; green roofs, open storm water drainage, green fringes to pathways and roads, and two major parks in the neighbourhood offer a variety of green and blue spaces. The planning of the neighbourhood places the emphasis on pedestrians, cycle transport and low emission public transport. Cars are minimised and limited to the edge of the development.

100% renewable energy Use of microclimate High quality public realm Blue and green spaces and biodiversity High density Density but providing a mix of house types as well as apartments attracting a wide range of people and families

Augustenborg district Key facts:

residents has reduced car ownership.

3,000 residents A renovation of an existing neighbourhood built in the 1940’s

15 recycling houses with full recycling and composting facilities have reduced waste by 70%.

Description: The aim of the redevelopment of Augustenborg was to target a low income neighbourhood and engage the existing community in the concept, design and implementation of the proposals. Supported by the government’s Local Investment Programme, Malmo City and MKB Housing company, the result is an urban renewal program that has taken place at the community and household scale. The result is an attractive multicultural neighbourhood with the turn over of tenants reduced by 20%. 1970’s additions to the existing 1940’s and 1950’s buildings were stripped away and the buildings insulated externally, improving energy efficiency. Individual apartment meters, a large solar array and photovoltaic demonstrations around the estate have increased energy efficiency by 20% over 1995 levels. The road network was restructured to reduce traffic through the neighbourhood. Two electric powered trains link the neighbourhood to the surrounding areas. A car pool accessible by

The district suffered from flooding before redevelopment; green roofs and open stormwater channels leading to ponds slow water run off and have stopped flooding. 90% of stormwater from roofs and hard surfaces is directed to these channels. Lessons for Swansea: Community participation The existing residents were engaged in the redevelopment process. Retrofit Existing houses redeveloped to increase energy efficiency High quality public realm Blue and green spaces and biodiversity and help reduce flood risk Partnership working Focus on placemaking

individual responses

individual tasks: the city and the future

On arrival participants were asked to complete four question cards exploring what makes cities great places to live and what makes Swansea a great place to live. The four questions were:

Recurring themes:

What makes a city a great place to live?

The importance of connections

What are the biggest challenges facing our communities?

Density and diversity

What makes Swansea a great place to live?

The need for investment

How can we build a better Swansea?

People are the social heart of the city The need for more sustainable cities

The need for high quality transport and infrastructure

The value of the Bay, the beach, and the sea

The Swansea people make it a great place The need to enhance Swansea’s connections and transport infrastructure

group activities

“To love one’s city, and to have a part in its advancement and improvement, is the highest privilege and duty of a citizen�

Daniel Burnham

group tasks: region, city, neighbourhood

A City Centre Worth Living in

A neighbourhood Worth Living in

A City Worth Living in

group tasks: region, city, neighbourhood Group 01: A City Worth Living in Explore the Swansea city region as a place to live, work and play. What makes Swansea a great city to live in? Group 02: A neighbourhood worth living in Explore Swansea as a place to live, and probe the challenges faced by policy makers, designers and developers in creating sustainable integrated neighbourhoods. Group 03: A city centre worth living in Explore Swansea city centre as a place to live; what will attract people to live in the city centre?

group 1: A City Worth Living in Explore the Swansea city region as a place to live, work and play. What makes Swansea a great city to live in? Task: Carry out a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities , Threats) for the city region as a place to live. Consider and map the assets the city has: Natural assets, landscape and green space Historical assets and distinctiveness Cultural, arts and creative assets Neighbourhoods, housing and development Places, and spaces ‌.and the connections between them.

Questions: How can Swansea capitalise on its assets? How well are the assets Swansea has used? What would attract more people to live in the city? How well connected is the city, its assets and neighbourhoods? Tools: A1 map A3 maps Post it notes Coloured marker pens Colored stickers

Group response

• The group worked from the city centre outwards, exploring the centre, the surrounding suburbs and the region • The waterside was identified as a particularly important and distinctive asset • The city centre is hindered by difficulty with getting into the centre and the lack of mixed housing provision • The centre has few empty sites and could be difficult to densify without demolition • Developments around the waterside (SA1) lacks a sense of community and needs a greater mix of uses; there is a sense of transience about the developments • The river should be considered as a second waterfront and offers a developable corridor through the city • The suburbs offer the best potential for densification • Transport infrastructure needs improvement to integrate city, suburbs and region • City centre should be considered as a place to visit, not just a place to live

group 2: A neighbourhood Worth Living in Explore Swansea as a place to live and probe the challenges faced by policy makers, designers and developers in creating sustainable integrated neighbourhoods. Background: The group is given a generic site in Swansea. It is a brownfield site located less than 500m from the city centre, close to the river and well served by public transport. The site is expected to be developed with a minimum of 200 homes. The group has a number of short case studies of housing in Wales, the UK and beyond. These demonstrate different densities of development, procurement routes, tenures, settings and public space, and design codes. Task: The task is to explore what type of housing could be delivered and the site, and what would make the neighbourhood a great place to live. What can we learn from other development in Swansea, Wales, the UK and beyond to help deliver sustainable, high quality and popular places to live

Questions: What makes a great neighbourhood? What density is needed t? create a vibrant neighbourhood and what density is appropriate for a near-central site in Swansea? What is the housing need in Swansea? How can sustainability, green and blue spaces and parking be integrated? How can new development be funded? Are there new models that can be adopted? Tools: A1 map A3 maps Post it notes Coloured marker pens Colored stickers Precedent studies

Group response

• The group focussed on the site as a means to knit the historic suburbs of the town and the town centre together • The river is undergoing aeration to improve water quality and could become an asset for the city • Riverside walkway and route suggested to create activity to this edge of the site • Suggested increasing green space and trees to the western bank of the river • The southern area of the site was suggested to be sold for a commercial use, to fund higher quality development to the north • Sustainable housing with south facing terraces were suggested, making best use of sun path and allowing for renewables on roofs • Site wide district heating suggested • The site could create strong east-west connections through from the city to the suburbs • Suggestion made of green pedestrian and cycle friendly bridges linking from the suburbs through new housing to the city

group 3: A city centre Worth Living in Explore Swansea city centre as a place to live; what will attract people to live in the city centre? Background: Many cities at the top of the ‘livable city’ indexes have over the past 20 years densified and consolidated their city centres and developed them as great places to live. Melbourne, for example, has seen an 800% increase in residential density in its city centre, while UK cities have seen a similar but perhaps less dramatic boom in city centre living. Meanwhile in Swansea, Housing Associations have delivered successful new places to live in the city, but the city centre suffers from high levels of retail vacancy (25%), lack of activity after 5:30pm and difficulties in attracting private investment.

Questions: Who might want to live in the city centre and why? How could greater residential intensity be achieved in Swansea city centre? In what ways could this help activity after 5.30pm? What will make the city centre an attractive and sustainable place to live? How can private sector developments be encouraged? How can we work with the buildings and spaces we already have in the city centre? How can new developments be connected into existing neighbourhoods and networks?

Task: You have in front of you a map of the city centre and its surrounding neighbourhoods. You also have a number of precedent studies from the city and beyond. These suggest best practice or possible models for future development.

Tools: A1 map A3 maps Post it notes Coloured marker pens Colored stickers Precedent studies

Your task is to explore what people enjoy about living in the city, how city centre living can be developed in Swansea and how the city centre can be made an attractive place to live.

Group response

• Attracting a mix of people to the city centre is key • The city centre needs to be made attractive as a place to live- people living and working there should want to • Leisure and recreation uses will help attract people- retail is secondary • Connections from the city centre are destroyed by major roads, for example connections to Sandfields are across five lanes of traffic • This reduces permeabilty and creates a ‘moat’ around the city centre • The city centre should be for people not for cars • Infrastructure needs upgrading- the city centre suffers from the legacy of previous transport strategies, particularly difficult road networks • The city entre has two centres- after shops close it moves south to Wind Street and the bars around the dock • The university campus is peripheral but has a major impact- students gravitate to the city centre for entertainment • The centre has low land values- what does this mean for development strategy? • Plots and buildings to amend or replace need

identifying and long term visions developing • A ‘can do’ attitude is required- recent developments show the attitude to living in the centre is changing and can be extended, but a mix of types and locations of housing is required

Facilitators feedback

“A city achieves purpose by being authentic to its people, its place and its time�

Aaron Hurst

5 Thoughts for swansea There was consensus that change is required to make the city a great place to live, work and play. The recurring question was not whether something needed to happen but how to make it happen. Use the assets of the city All groups identified strong assets the city posesses, but also identified difficulties and challenges that need to be overcome for the city to thrive as a great place to live. Re-connect All groups discussed the need to re-connect the city at all scales- from connections between neighbourhoods to connections out of the city centre, across the city and beyond. People make the city There was consensus that people make the city. The task is not just to create places to live but also to create a social and enjoyable city to live in. Zoning vs integration The zoned nature of the city was highlighted as a barrier to integrated neighbourhoods. In recent developments around the bay, for example, a lack of community and social facilities was highlighted. ‘Can do’ attitude A belief in the ability of the city to change, grow and develop sustainably is needed if it is to be a success in the 21st century.

Appendix 1 : Precedent studies

urban village Location : Swansea 143 homes, 10,000m2 office, retail and leisure Located in an area with dereliction, crime and antisocial behavior Re-connects areas of the city- courtyards links shops, apartment Future phase to integrate a creative cluster arts facility

castle district Location : Swansea Small scale infill development 32 homes: 28 apartments, 4 duplex, commerical units at street level Homes for purchase

office-residential conversion Location : UK Conversion of commerical space to residential above retail units Increased buzz, vitality and community Increase footfall for local traders Reducing transport needs

Bo 01 : City of tomorrow


Location : Malmo

Location : Almere, Netherlands

600 homes 2-5 storeys High Density Pedestrian and cycle priority 0.7 parking spaces per household Masterplan responds to microclimate 100% renewable power: solar (photovoltaic), wind turbines, heat pump to aquifer Mixed ownership and tenure ‘Quality Programme’ sets targets prior to land transfer to developers

720 self build plots in several neighbourhoods Process: The local authority land owner produces an urban design, puts in basic infrastructure and makes the decision to sell the land in individual building plots (using £ per m2 rate) 50% use standard kit homes, 50% want freedom of design Shared ownership options available

Vauban District


Location : Freiburg

Location : Berlin

1,100 homes (so far) 2-5 storeys, high density Cooperative, participatory development with foundation of a residents association Enhanced energy performance as part of planning guidance Car free centre and focus on pedestrian and cycle transport District CHP, solar (thermal & photovoltaic) Green and blue public spaces

Multistorey housing 1 in 10 homes in Berlin delivered by self builders, organised into a cooperative Baugruppe Themed developments, eg: elderly care, family housing, sustainability (75% of group homes are PassivHaus standard) 75% owner occupiers, 25% rental Estimated 25% cheaper than market housing Often city centre locations rather than suburbs

The Triangle

mariners quay, old town dock

Location : Swindon

Location : Newport

42 homes 21 social rented, 11 intermediate, 10 rent to buy 2-3 storeys, medium density Low energy homes Central ‘village green’ Community growing space Car club

110 homes; apartments & houses Code for Sustainable Homes level 5 Renewable energy: Biomass, CHP, Solar (photovoltaics), MVHR Enhanced building fabric performance

Appendix 2: Individual responses

@coombsjones info@coombsjones.com www.coombsjones.com

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Swansea: A city worth living in  

A report of a workshop facilitated by Coombs Jones at DCFW's autumn seminar 2014

Swansea: A city worth living in  

A report of a workshop facilitated by Coombs Jones at DCFW's autumn seminar 2014