Taking stock during Covid-19: living more sustainably

During lockdown, many of us have taken stock of how we live. As a result, people are becoming much more aware of their carbon footprint and our impact on the natural world. Trends such as homeworking, cycling, and local food growing have accelerated. Cycle sales, for example, increased in April by 60 per cent. 

The Government also recently announced a £2 billion package to create a new era for cycling and walking. Fast-tracked statutory guidance, published in May and effective immediately, tells councils to reallocate roadspace for significantly increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians. In towns and cities, some streets could become bike and bus-only while others remain available for motorists. It also encourages more side streets to be closed to through traffic, to create low-traffic neighbourhoods and reduce rat-running while maintaining access for vehicles. 

Many of these sustainable lifestyle trends are already embedded within our design proposals for Sharpness Vale. Our ambition for Sharpness Vale has always been to genuinely and imaginatively reduce the community’s carbon footprint. We believe that the new community should assist the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Government’s future carbon budgets and the UK’s

2050 target to reduce emissions. We also want it to actively support Stroud District Council in achieving its target of being carbon neutral before 2030. 

Our proposals for Sharpness Vale include the following: 

  • Far greater opportunities to work from home – we are committed to delivering a gigabit-level broadband network with a provider to facilitate home working, fast network for schools and public transport connectivity. This will bring high speed broadband infrastructure to the wider area too
  • Supporting ‘car freedom’ – residents will be able to rely less on the car and use convenient and sustainable transport.  Day-to-day facilities will be available on site as well as employment opportunities. There will be an extensive cycling and footpaths network connecting to the community’s hub. A centralised cycle-specific programme will be available, where residents and visitors can buy and hire bicycles, get their bicycles repaired, take cycle lessons and learn basic bike maintenance. Smart bus services will serve Sharpness from the outset. Electric vehicle charging points will be available both around the site and in homes. The scheme includes the re-opening of the Sharpness Branch Line to passenger services, and the construction of a new station 
  • Utilising the latest proven technology in local renewable energy generation and storage e.g. the combination of solar energy and battery storage 
  • Reduction in domestic carbon emissions – Residents will be able to control their energy use through smart technology in their homes and the homes will use the latest in green building design techniques, from insulation through to water-saving features 
  • Reduction in waste – the development will seek to reduce the use of resources, reuse resources and recycle both domestic and construction waste
  • Local supply – new areas for farming and horticulture, including an urban farm and allotments. These will link to spaces in a mixed use area for the sale of local produce
  • Carbon Sinks – there will be new areas of woodland that will assist carbon sequestration. The woodland could be managed for game and/or foraging and include orchard.

This pandemic is certainly one of the most challenging times that any of us will live through. But there’s an opportunity to do things very differently in future. As Albert Einstein said: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” We believe that Sharpness Vale can provide hope in a different and fresh approach.

Paul Fong, Director of Planning at Sharpness Development LLP.