The Aberfeldy New Village masterplan rejuvenates an existing residential community, providing a new, high quality environment that will support sustainable living for years to come. From the outset, there was an integrated approach to the architecture, urban design and landscape architecture to create a holistic new neighbourhood—one where the residents and wider community can live, work, play and socialise—that also took inspiration from the site’s historic life as an 18th and 19th century import dock. Importantly, the masterplan embodies design considerations such as microclimate, aspect, amenity, character, health and wellbeing, sustainable water management and social sustainability of the evolving community.
A core principle was the introduction of a green and blue infrastructure network, which ties in with existing access to improve connections to and from the local area. The former neighbourhood was isolated by busy roads and lacked good quality green space, making these two key issues to be addressed. The sunken nature of the site’s ground level meant that a new arterial green space could be sheltered from the busy road to the south through built form, exploiting key gateways that have been formed by new traffic-signalled crossings. This approach also meant that a green ‘oasis’ could be created away from the noise and traffic fumes as a pleasant alternative for local people. Walking routes to local schools, shops, play spaces and community facilities have consequently been greatly improved.
Once these design drivers had been established, the landscape strategy was strengthened. The linear park is the central green space for the community. It is characterised by open lawns, a double avenue of bold trees, active play installations and a meadow-planted channel. The meadow introduces a wide range of native grasses and wildflowers with an over-planted palette of bulbs. The purpose of this feature is to foster wildlife habitats whilst ensuring flood risk resilience for the new community, as well as informally supporting south-facing stepped seating for use in warmer weather. The channel runs directly into areas of lawn, shrub and herbaceous planting, offering excellent connectivity of habitat. To the east and west, more formal, civic ‘gateway’ spaces provide an appropriate setting for new retail and community facilities, using water as a repeating feature for playful animation. Opportunities for planting within these spaces is not lost, with a range of flowering trees with wildlife value providing striking seasonal impact.
Newly created ‘living’ streets are animated through a combination of planting as well as increasing the number of passers-by. Careful tree placement (considering a complexity of underground utilities) draw people along routes, using flowering species and clear-stems to preserve sight lines whilst offering vivid autumnal colour and architectural form. A deliberately uncluttered approach to planting these streets ensures appropriate complexity without over-burdening maintenance teams. Elsewhere, robust and attractive shrubs provide evergreen structure, flower and scent. Planting forms defensive space around ground floor dwellings, with species selected for aspect and form, using a rhythm of repetition to mark key routes.
The composition of a strong framework of evergreen shrubs forms a foil to more ornate and varied seasonal companion planting. This approach is appropriate in relation to the required maintenance and ensures robustness for the new residential spaces. Although previous tree planting was low quality and extremely limited, the masterplan features new tree species with priority to the introduction of larger species wherever possible, due to the benefits they offer, such as shade and reducing noise.
An above-ground approach for greening roof level spaces was created, ensuring these often-overlooked expanses offered habitat diversity. By introducing simple features such as coir ropes, sand and gravel piles with south-facing slopes and log stacks, these roof spaces contribute to a mosaic of habitat types across the masterplan. At ground level, biodiversity was considered through the types of planting assigned to the key landscape spaces. Sheltered courtyards offer edible palettes for residents, shade-tolerant ground covers and deciduous, light-canopied specimen trees to preserve light levels. These elements cater to the needs of people who live there whilst promoting local wildlife by introducing winter nectar and scent, nesting opportunities and connected corridors for foraging and commuting. A series of shaded north-facing courtyards are an opportunity for native ferns, iris and low-growing shrubs to create a beautiful setting to front doors and living spaces. Through impactful planting, these potentially dim spaces are enlivened year-round.