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In order to have a deeper understanding of Building for Life 12 document which is used to evaluate whether a place is good for living, we visited and analyzed several sites by a simple ‘traffic light’ system as a part of a module on housing alternatives schemes.

The project that I follow with interest is called Sinclair Meadows, located in South Shields. It is headed by the housing association, Four Housing Group, and the environmental charity Groundwork South Tyneside & Newcastle.

 

Integrating into the neighbourhood

Map with surrounding public facilities and transportation (author’s own, 2019).

1. Connection

Perspective from main entrance (Image author’s own, 2019).

The entrance of Sinclair Meadows is on Reed St. Its eastern side is adjacent to A194 Road. Both of them are main routes that connect to the existing road network. However, Sinclair Meadows only provides one entrance for vehicle, cyclists and pedestrians.

2. Facilities and services 

Compared with other case studies, the facilities near Sinclair Meadows are rather with good quality and various. For instance, there is a primary school, a care home, an indoor playground, some restaurants and retail stores nearby. Almost all these facilities can be reached within 10 minutes of walking. Living in the site is a good experiment for residents.

3. Public transportation

It is quite convenient to commute by using public transportation. The closest bus stop is just outside the entrance, provide No.12 which links the site with the city centre. Also, the Chichester Metro station is located within 5 minutes walking.

4. Meeting local housing requirement

The project only comprises of 21 residential eco-friendly dwellings, nine 3-bedroom houses and twelve 2-bedroom flats. All of them are prepared for sale, none for tenancy. The last sale price was £118,250 in March, 2014.

Creating a place

5. Character

Elevation of the house (Image author’s own, 2019).

Sinclair Meadows has an outstand character. It is one of the UK’s first carbon negative streets. It has a series of environmentally friendly initiatives. The buildings are designed using the most innovative and sustainable materials, integrating solar panels, a communal biomass boiler, rainwater harvesting tanks and even a no car policy for the site to reduce carbon emissions.

6. Working with the site and its context

Community boundaries from the eastern side (Image author’s own, 2019).

The project well fits with topography and local character. On the east side of the site, there are many shrubs on a 30-meter-wide green belt to isolate the influences, like noise and pollution caused by A194 motorway.

7. Creating well defined streets and spaces

Spaces and roads in the community (Image author’s own, 2019).

Sinclair Meadows is a gated community, using wood fences as effective boundaries to divide internal and external spaces. I saw many toys placed on public grass unintentionally, which made me feel that the environment inside the community was very safe.

8. Easy to find your way around

Due to the location that is along the main roads, Sinclair Meadows gets good relations with surroundings. In addition, the building has an obvious characteristic owing to its unique shape and material, so it is easy to find.

 

Street & Home

9. Streets for all 

The paths are curved and narrow so it is effective for vehicle to reduce the speed. But the routes in the site are all mixed used, lacking of routes for cycling.

10. Car parking

Cars parking on the road side (Image author’s own, 2019).

There is a small collective car parking area in the site, accommodating merely nine cars. Most of the households are families, so such parking space does not meet the demand and is difficult to coordinate. Some residents are more willing to park their cars on the roadside near home.

11. Public and private spaces

Each house has their own small external store structures and a south-facing backyard. Moreover, in front of the houses, large public green space is available.

12.External storage and amenity space

Collective rubbish bins (Image author’s own, 2019).

Small external storage structures can be used for tools and weeding equipment. Rubbish bins are collectively organized near the entrance and hidden by shelter.

 

Outcomes
  • Green – 8
  • Amber – 2
  • Red – 2

All in all, Sinclair Meadows, as an eco-village, provides a warm home for social housing residents while reducing carbon emissions. It is exactly a popular and desirable neighbourhood.


References:

  1. Fitz Architects., (2019). Sinclair Meadows, New built [online] Available at: https://www.fitzarchitects.co.uk/portfolio/sinclair-meadows/ [Accessed on February 25 2019].
  2. Inhabitat., (2019). Sinclair Meadows: Residents Move Into the UK’s First Carbon-Negative Street [online] Available at: https://inhabitat.com/residents-move-into-sinclair-meadows-the-uks-first-carbon-negative-street/?variation=d [Accessed on February 25 2019].
  3. Narec distributed energy., (2019). Sinclair Meadows Carbon Negative Community

School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509

Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk


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