An innovative scheme in Newcastle is using ancient techniques to safeguard the new £15m The Malings eco-housing project at Ouseburn from the potential of flooding.
In what’s believed to be one of the first schemes of its kind in the North East, the flagship Carillion-Igloo regeneration will use ‘raingardens’ to collect excess water and gradually filter it back into the River Tyne.
Igloo director, David Roberts, said: “Modern building design and concreted areas which leave water nowhere to go are widely considered one of the main reasons why floods have become such a problem in urban areas. The Malings houses are all built well above flood levels but the use of raingardens will ensure any collected water drains safely away.”
London architect Ash Sakula is responsible for designing the landscaping at the 76-home development and has brought the SUDS (sustainable urban drainage systems) concept to the North East.
Partner Robert Sakula said: “This is an innovative form of drainage but in a sense it’s an old technique that has been used in years gone by, with marshland absorbing water to prevent the flooding of adjacent areas. It slowly holds and releases the water, but this is something that hasn’t been used often in urban drainage.
“At The Malings, all the rain water will drain from the roofs into water butts or run down little rills or channels that run down the buildings and lead into rainwater gardens, which collect the water and slowly and sustainably discharge it into the River Tyne.”
The concept is part of the wider sustainable 21st century living vision that is being created at The Malings.
Ash Sakula has also designed a walkway linking The Malings to the five-mile pathway along the Quayside, connecting the development to the city centre. The work, which is set to be completed in tandem with the first phase of homes in early 2015, is part of the green and community-focus that is being built into The Malings.
“We are creating a play area in the centre of the development with seating around for adults and big steps looking down to the river,” said Mr Sakula.
“The homeowners will be able to share a raised bed of micro allotments and we are creating cycle parking and storage facilities throughout. The cycleway along the Tyne is a great way for people to get into town and the roads will be ‘shared space’ – cars can drive there but pedestrians and cyclists will have priority.”
The eco-ethos of the site also puts a focus on recycling, with communal areas that residents will be encouraged to use to minimise waste. The community village feel of The Malings will be further boosted by the openness of the development, where there are no hidden corners or dark spaces, allowing neighbours to be each others’ ‘eyes on the street’.
Cllr Ged Bell, cabinet member for investment and development at Newcastle City Council, said: “Newcastle City Council strongly supports innovative sustainable urban drainage schemes like this one and was one of the first local authorities to pioneer a SUDs scheme over 10 years ago at the Newcastle Great Park housing scheme.”
Igloo’s David Roberts said: “The Malings is providing the blueprint of how regeneration can create a space for modern living, with the very best of environmentally-friendly – and importantly, community-friendly – developments all in one place.
“The innovative approach taken by our architects is creating something completely new for the North East and the project is really capturing people’s imagination. We’re delighted that the majority of the homes in the first phase of the development have already been sold.”
Newcastle City Council has overseen the regeneration of the Lower Ouseburn Valley for more than 15 years, creating a vibrant creative and cultural quarter through winning public and private sector investment for highways, the environment, and projects such as the Biscuit Factory, Ouseburn Farm, Seven Stories, Woods Pottery and the Toffee Factory.