Trees are cool! It’s official…

This week my friends at Just the Job sent me a link to the Trees and Design Action Group, who, to date had not been on my radar. After browsing through their awesome range of resources I came across the rather inspiring Grand Lyon Tree Charter (very helpfully in English too, thanks). This publication is a proper hands-on ‘how to guide’ for anyone who wants to better understand our leafy neighbours who have been making our cities liveable and beautiful whilst having to be survivors in a hostile environment. There are so many things do for us, but what struck me as being so well articulated was the role that trees have in tackling the urban heat island effect.

Greater Lyon Tree Charter Illustration

The Charter identifies the role that trees could have as a passive measure in our urban environments alongside their intrinsic value. One adult tree = five air conditioning units working 20 hours/day = 11.4kWh of energy saved per day, amounting to 500 euros of energy cost saving per year (assuming a yearly energy consumption of 1000 kWh/yr).

You know it makes sense!

This has been a great week for trees in raising their profile in planning and design, the interview I recorded in March with Wei Yang (RTPI President) and Jane Findlay (LI President) went live today and can be viewed in the Landscape Institute Campus Site. This informative, entertaining and urgent conversation asks, ‘What have trees ever done for us?’ alongside practical matters such as “What are to top three planning and design considerations for happy trees and great places’. It makes for rewarding watching.

New Beginnings

After what has been a particularly busy two years, and sharing the global challenges that were are facing since this time last year, posts have been somewhat absent. This is all about to change… However firstly I would like to bring you up to date. I am pleased to announce that I have moved into my new studio in Richmond, North Yorkshire. Based at Zetland Square I am delighted to be working from such a beautiful historic building in the centre of a beautiful market town (more on this later).

The last two years have been highly productive with a wide range of UK projects alongside work further afield. With a wide base of public sector clients alongside third sector and private businesses I am working with some great clients who share my vision for the role of planning and development as a means of ‘making the world a better place’.

Current projects include:

  • A Design of New Development Supplementary Planning Document for a District Council
  • Sustainability support to a number of councils across the UK
  • A town centre masterplan and investment framework for a District Council
  • A strategic masterplan for a new Garden Village of 4000 homes
  • The successful gaining of planning permission for a new ‘green’ recording studio and green room for the Forum Music Centre, Darlington, an in-house designed project.

Please contact me if you want to know more about my work or are thinking about commissioning a new project.



Stepping Backwards to Leap Forward

A section of the Marselisborg Forests near Aarhus. As part of a rewilding agenda, trees have been uprooted
Sometimes it’s best to let nature take its course. In many places where the landscape around us is entirely human influenced the role of natural capital and ecosystems is undervalued as a means of overcoming social and environmental challenges. But how do we do this? Accepting that we cannot turn back the clock and restore large areas of the planet to a pre-human state the role of ‘rewilding’ becomes a compelling concept. The temptation is often to manage and tidy up nature, treat our landscapes like a garden, or worse, to quote President Trump, showing a deep understanding of the issues, “I was with the President of Finland and he said we have — much different — we are a forest nation. He called it a forest nation, and they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things, and they don’t have any problem. And when it is, it’s a very small problem. So I know everybody’s looking at that to that end.” Much to the amusement of the Finnish People who have embraced the concept of ‘Rake News‘.

On a serious note there are concerted efforts across Europe to Rewild large areas of landscape, protecting scarce areas of wilderness and taking land out of traditional management to being wild places. With projects ranging from ‘wilderness scale’ to localised urban greenspaces this movement is making space for nature, whether large apex consumer species or invertebrates. Rewilding Europe has published a A Vision for a Wilder Europe demonstrating not just the intrinsic value of nature but also the sound underpinnings of a business case for investment in wilderness.

At a time where climate change adaptation and mitigation is a priority for everyone and the links to wild places and positive mental health and wellbeing the case for nature has never been stronger. Sometimes we have to create the conditions where nature can take over and self-manage, with untidy edges, a degree of danger, and outside of traditional management,  to ultimately do less and achieve more.

The Croissant Test

Those of you who have heard me speak will have heard of the ‘Croissant Test’. So what am I on about I hear you ask? In simple terms if you can walk from your home to a local bakery, buy a croissant and bring it home while it is still warm you are living in a great place. Make sense? This is the essence of a walkable neighbourhood where the things you need are 5-10 minutes walk away, as opposed to another car journey.