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Archive for the ‘Green Space’ Category

I’ve mouthed off plenty of times about the importance of gardens to our well-being.The Chelsea Flower Show may come across sometimes as a bit pompous but I’m a big fan in that it’s the one outdoorsy event that gets wall to wall media coverage for a whole week.

This year Gerardine designed an exhibit at Chelsea 09 in conjunction with Gateshead Council… heres an extract from the press release….

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I’m a patron of Sustrans (the UK’s leading sustainable transport charity), and recently chaired a conference organised by them and Play England which looked at some of the serious issues around Britain’s decline in places for children to enjoy safe outside play, to cycle safely and the resultant health issues.

Here are some things I took from the conference  and some of the issues raised  and some things that got me cogitating.

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Since Wayne  wrote that infamous article in The Independent in 2000 and coined the phrase “The Wimpeyfication and Barrattification of Britain” HemingwayDesign has had an unbelievably stimulating seven years. We have helped George Wimpey deliver what is widely accepted as one of Europe’s most liveable developments, The Staiths South Bank in Gateshead, have just launched the first of the Thames Gateway mixed use schemes, The Bridge in Dartford, have worked on schemes in Manchester and with councils from Skelmersdale to  Whitehaven.

As questioning newcomers to the housing industry and with one of the team having a with a big gob, we have lots to shout about. So here goes for starters…

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Whilst I don’t condone sneering, it’s hard not to join the sneering classes when it comes to the tabloid media and their readers’ obsession with celebrity, and when it comes to designer label-wearing chavs, then try holding me back, but you won’t find me joining in with the Titchmarsh and Gardeners World baiting that has become prevalent. It may be fashionable to knock gardening and to champion all things urban and for designers of computer games to win design awards whilst garden designers are linked to knitters of toilet roll holders, but gardens and gardening are part of our heritage and most importantly they positively affect the health of the nation.

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I first visited The BO 01 development at Western Harbour, Malmo, Sweden during the summer of 2001 when the site opened as an Expo of best practice of sustainable development. It was B0 01 that was the inspiration behind much of what Gerardine and I are achieving at HemingwayDesign. As an example of taking an old unloved industrial site and providing a stunning, beautifully conceived and delivered environment for all ages to live, work, play, eat and shop Malmo cant be beaten.

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Ever since I was at John Prescott’s Urban Summit at Brindley Place, Birmingham in late 2002, and was collected by my wife and youngest lad on our way up to visit family up north, I have had a bee in my bonnet about our so called “urban renaissance”. Amongst Birmingham’s regenerated canal district Britain’s National Sea Life centre has been opened. I took my lad in @ 4.30 on a midweek afternoon only to be told it was closing. On asking why, it was explained that there were no families living close by and the centre was only busy at weekends and school hols. Here I was amongst shiny new buildings, landscaping, canals, restaurants and shops and hundreds of new homes. But the whole emphasis was on singles and childless couples. The concept that a child could enjoy the freedom of a city just hadn’t crossed the minds of the planners. (more…)

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A few weekends ago I had a bad day. As a Blackburn Rovers loving family we had driven down to Cardiff to watch them lose the FA Cup semi final against Arsenal. I don’t like driving at the best of time unless there are fantastic views and something good on the radio. This particular morose journey was made worse by a biased southern media on Radio 5 Live having an unfounded go at Rovers so called “bully boy” tactics and views of something that drives me to despair (despair is a destination that I often end up at when I drive), dozens of soulless new housing developments set in seas of black tarmac.

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