Mike Davies, specification manager for Charcon, discusses how hard landscaping can enhance new residential and commercial mixed use developments.
Whether a single new-build home, or a larger multi-dwelling development, outside space is no small thing. Between the front of house and the wider streetscape, there is much to consider if you are to tick all the boxes that a potential homebuyer could be looking for: does it look good? Will it last? Is it sustainable? And ultimately, is this a place I want to live?
Arguably, the most important aesthetic element is the property’s kerb appeal. First impressions are important after all, and it’s no different when it comes to that first ‘meeting’ between a potential buyer and their new home.
Space to park a car is a must for many homeowners, so – where the space allows – it is important to opt for a stylish driveway solution that is both striking and brings character to the property, but also complements the existing bricks and mortar that has been specified.
Block paving represents an extremely practical and durable solution. Opting for paving with a permeable surface, which allows water to drain away between the blocks, is a perfect choice when you need to satisfy the strict legislation regarding front of homes.
An appealing streetscape
If your development consists of several properties, it may well give you the opportunity to create a wonderful and unique landscape setting for residents. Rather than just connecting all the pathways and roads, think in broader terms about how appealing the streetscape could be.
For an outside space that offers greater value for the residents-to-be, you may be required to include areas of public open space, such as playgrounds. Hard landscaping can be cleverly used as a durable solution to fashion bespoke benches, steps, planters, litter bins or water features that will stand the test of time, yet require minimal ongoing maintenance.
Trends in the domestic market have followed on into the commercial domain, with a general preference for a more contemporary look.
Dark, natural and muted colours remain popular, both with homeowners and in areas of public realm. Greys and whites, particularly, bring a contemporary feel to outdoor spaces, creating an effective backdrop for an attractive streetscape.
A good example of this is at Trafalgar Place in Elephant & Castle, London which turned an office block of recycled shipping containers into a 235 home development. With a project brief to create a quality urban residential space, we supplied Andover Textured small block pavers in Midnight Grey, Silver Grey and Light Grey for the avenues, and Appalachian flag paving in Leemoor Ground for the residents’ private courtyard.
Together with the buildings, planting and communal space, the project has been praised within the industry as an example of top design, scooping prestigious awards such as The Mayor’s Award for Planning Excellence and Best New Place to Live, both at the London Planning Awards 2016.
The right materials
We advise housebuilders, developers and landscape architects to consult with a hard landscaper, such as Charcon, as early in the process as possible to make sure the right materials are specified. This will depend on the amount of pedestrian or vehicular traffic that the paving can expect to withstand.
Our hard-wearing Granite Flags and Granite Setts for example are a great natural stone choice for more premium developments where high trafficked areas are to be expected. Whereas Andover Textured, our blend of Cornish aggregates, is an alternative to natural stone that, despite being textured, still has the hard-wearing qualities of granite. It is also available in a range of shades that complement and contrast with each other.
It may be that some of the pathways require an occasional car, HGV or mechanical sweeper to overrun. Again, a hard landscaping specialist can advise on the ideal paving materials that hold visual appeal for those on foot, yet have strength and sufficiently smooth jointing to withstand the occasional heavy vehicle.
Seek expert advice on any areas that may need additional safety measures to help mitigate potential hazards in and around the development. This could include anti-skid kerbs, tactile units for visually impaired pedestrians, or even cycleways to separate cyclists from traffic, and indeed, those on foot.
Equally, deterrent paving can be used to define ‘no go’ zones, preventing vehicle access to open public spaces, discouraging pedestrians from disturbing wildlife areas, or signalling the boundaries of a utility compound. Speed humps and other traffic calming components can also be specified to help create a safe space for the residents.
Barking Riverside Limited, a joint venture between Bellway Homes plc and the Homes and Communities Agency, had to consider sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) when they embarked on their 185 hectare Barking Riverside development in London.
The vision was to provide a model for sustainable living in the 21st century. Building on the former Barking Power Station site, the project required land remediation, site clearance and changes to land levels to plan for flood risk.
With 40% of the development designed as green space, our Infilta block paving provided a permeable surface to the hard landscaped areas, allowing water filtration through voids between the paving blocks to mitigate flood risk and recycle rainwater harvest across the site.
Sustainable living is at the heart of the Barking Riverside project. While our surface water solutions have helped to tackle the necessary drainage requirements, our natural stone replica paving, StoneMaster, provides a wonderful landscape setting with up to 50% non-primary materials within its mix.
Eco-living is becoming more and more important – not only to homeowners, but to local councils and planning authorities as well. People are looking for natural stone to be ethically sourced, and for reconstituted stone to be manufactured responsibly. The Charcon portfolio offers a wealth of eco-solutions, such as the hardwearing Ecopave Ground paving which is manufactured here in the UK from up to 87% recycled/reclaimed materials, or Natural Granite which is quarried in China, abiding by strict ethical trading and social responsibility standards.