Having completed a new one-acre public park there last summer, alongside our joint venture partners, Urban Splash, we have completed the first of a series of new communal gardens for residents at Port Loop – Birmingham’s new island community.
From the outset, the joint venture has been committed to promoting a green and healthy lifestyle at Port Loop with residents and the local community able to ‘live well by accident’ and ‘play out ‘til tea’; two ideals outlined in the initial Manifesto for the new neighbourhood.
With average garden sizes for new builds at around 1,000 sq ft of space, we have exceeded industry standards, creating a vast 8,600 sq ft communal green area in which residents can spend their time. The communal space is in addition to private gardens immediately adjacent to each home.
Adam Willetts, Project Director for the Port Loop Joint Venture, said: “At Port Loop, we have a unique opportunity to create a neighbourhood full of natural spaces. To us, they’re every bit as important as the homes around them. Communal gardens have been popular in London for a few years now, but this is the first time that the concept has been brought to Birmingham as part of a new build development. Located centrally to each collection of new homes, the landscaped communal garden allows homeowners to slide open their glass back door and step out into a natural, grassy space or simply sit in their living room, or on their balcony, and enjoy the feeling of openness by looking out over a large area of green space.
“While green space was always integral to our plan, lockdown and the events of 2020 have put an even greater emphasis on the importance of outdoor spaces and people coming together as a local community. This recently launched first shared garden has proven invaluable to our homeowners over recent weeks and it’s been great to see people safely enjoying this space with their neighbours whilst also honouring the government guidelines.”
Designed by landscape architects, Grant Associates, the initial shared garden is accessed via a gated entrance and services 40 households. Each subsequent area of homes will also surround a shared garden.
Connecting people and nature
Green spaces are integral to Port Loop's masterplan, where a range of placemaking initiatives – including the use of the waterways and towpaths surrounding the site – will encourage residents to live more outdoor-focussed lifestyles.
Claire Hobart, Senior Associate at Grant Associates, explained: “Connecting people and nature is at the heart of our designs for Port Loop. It was important that the design of the shared gardens encourages homeowners to cherish and nurture these new spaces. This has been done by incorporating ‘playfulness’ in the designs, with bright yellow outdoor seating included, as well as stepping-stone pathways and naturalistic planting with seasonal colour.”
Adam Willetts continued: “Moving forwards, the aim is for these shared gardens to be used by all residents to host community events, create vegetable patches and come together to relax in their spare time. For now, in the current pandemic, we’re asking our homeowners to keep taking note of the Government’s advice regarding social distancing whilst exercising and looking after their mental wellbeing in our shared gardens.”
All the new homes at Port Loop have easy access to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, with Brindleyplace just a 15 minute walk away along the towpaths.
Port Loop is being delivered by Urban Splash and Places for People, alongside the charity, Canal & River Trust, and Birmingham City Council. In addition to the new homes, plans are currently being put in place to launch a new social and cultural hub in 100,000 sq ft of former industrial space at Port Loop.
For further information visit port-loop.com.