Vistry Partnerships’ Lea Castle project receives national nature accolade

Regeneration specialist Vistry Partnerships has been accredited the ‘Building with Nature Design Award’ for its 600-home Lea Castle project in Kidderminster.

Vistry Partnerships is working on the development with local housing association Citizen, and once complete, it will provide 240 affordable homes and 360 for outright sale.

The accolade recognises the developer’s efforts to put nature at the heart of the development by designing and delivering a great living environment for both people and wildlife. The Building with Nature framework purposefully encourages the incorporation of sustainable solutions and the use of nature-friendly features within a design, by assessing its approach to green infrastructure that considers peoples’ wellbeing, water management and wildlife habitat improvements.

Throughout the design process, sustainability has been at the forefront of Vistry Partnerships’ Lea Castle development, with the scheme maintaining extensive woodland areas while introducing areas of enhanced habitat.

Commenting on the achievement, Darren Beale, Managing Director at Vistry Partnerships West Midlands, said: “We are delighted to be recognised at a national level for our Lea Castle development. In Kidderminster, we have gone above and beyond the norm by creating something which allows wildlife and people to live together in perfect harmony by placing sustainability at the heart of all decision making.”

The developers also worked with environmental consultants, The Environment Partnership (TEP), to ensure their project met the award’s guidelines.

TEP’s Senior Landscape Architect, and qualified Building with Nature assessor, Anna Miroslaw, added: “We have worked hard to ensure that the landscape design reflects the unique and special character of this site, whilst also creating an environment in which the new community can flourish. The open spaces, play features and active trails have been designed for all to enjoy; sustainable drainage features allow rainwater to replenish the natural water table and carefully selected planting will enrich biodiversity.”

Building with Nature’s Standards, which were developed in partnership with local authorities, private sector developers, people and communities, provide built environment specialists with evidence-based, how-to guidance on delivering high-quality green infrastructure.

Dr Gemma Jerome, who approved the award, stated: “I am delighted to be able to confirm Lea Castle has been granted the BwN Design Award, as a result of the high standard of green infrastructure across the scheme.”

Located in Lea Castle close to the villages of Cookley and Wolverley, the former hospital was previously used as a military camp during World War Two and most recently, it has been used as a care home for people with mental health issues.

Once complete, the £137m development will feature a mix of two, three and four-bedroom homes built in partnership with Homes England, the Government’s housing agency and local housing association Citizen. The former brownfield site will consist of 240 affordable homes and available through the housing association, while the remaining properties will be for outright sale through Vistry Partnerships’ housebuilding arm – Linden Homes.

Executive Director of Development at Citizen, Nick Byrne, said: “We are thrilled that our Lea Castle development has been given a Building with Nature Design Award.

“Lea Castle is our largest development to date and putting nature at the heart of the development will create a lovely atmosphere for our customers to live in. We want our homes to make a real difference to our customers’ lives and having a development built around nature trails and open spaces will help to achieve this.”