Twechar Design Guide: an active manual for the future
We have been appointed by East Dunbartonshire Council to prepare a Design Guide for the village of Twechar incorporating a Landscape Masterplan. The brief describes an interesting and important piece of work – it is also highly topical. It seeks to address a central issue faced by most communities, local councils and planners in the early 21st century – how best can new development be accommodated in or added to existing settlements? The effectiveness of planning control in producing appropriate standards of new development is often in doubt – not just in Twechar and East Dunbartonshire but throughout the country as a whole. The Twechar approach, as set out in the brief, is potentially ground breaking and immensely constructive.
The proposed Design Guide is a by-product of the Masterplan produced by Kevin Murray Associates in 2005. This document drew attention to the particular sensitivity of the local environment, external views and proximity of the greenbelt and proposed that the highest possible standards will need to be adopted when designing new buildings and landscaping.
The desired outputs from the proposed study are a development code to guide the overall structure and typologies of the village, a building design and materials code to ensure that the quality and character of new buildings is consistent and sustainable, an open space strategy including a landscape and planting strategy, a signing strategy and a detailed actionable landscape masterplan.
We think that the Design Guide should set out a vision of the future character of the village and the criteria and processes that will be necessary in order to achieve that vision. Normally a plan is a passive thing, providing a framework for future development. We think that the Twechar Design Guide should be an active document used as a kind of manual for the future, involving agencies, communities and developers in a joint exploration of possibilities and results, with a common agenda for the future of the village.
Our recent work throughout the UK has given us a broad perspective on recent initiatives in new design and implementation through design briefing, design guidance and design coding. Each is different and each has seen varying degrees of success and it is important to be aware of the merits of each approach.
We aspire to produce a multifaceted Design Guide which results in an enhanced image of the village as well as finding ways of adding new development to the attractive landscape of Twechar without damage or diminution of its essential qualities.
We are working with Drew Mackie Associates and Martin Stockley Associates on this work.