Case studies
We have set out two case studies below, which show opportunities that could be achieved in Yate. The first is from Holland where a commuter town has been transformed into an independent community with sustainable mobility at its heart. The second is from Cardiff, where a district within the city has had its drainage network future proofed through the use of green infrastructure.
Houten, Holland

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Mobility has spurred Yate's growth and shaped the public realm and layout of the settlement. The railway and Yate station shaped the first significant growth explosion and brought employment and prosperity thanks to many new industries that settled near the station and station road.

The second explosion of growth from 1960's to 1980's, was propelled by the car. Yate station was even closed during that time. This period brought a new American Style shopping centre, wide roads, large parking spaces and extensive housing estates. This modernist urbanism and new town approach to mobility and urban planning, centred around the car, is what still defines Yate's identity.

The major challenge Yate is facing is today is to find a more sustainable mobility model that radically changes both reality and perception of its identity. There are examples of commuter towns that have experienced a similar situation and that have been transformed into full grown independent communities with character and identity, with sustainable mobility in the heart.

Two examples are the city of Houten, with Houten Castellum new town and the city of Almere, both in Holland. Houten was developed during the 60's and further expanded during the 90's, as a commuter town at a distance of 15 kilometres (20 minutes' drive) from Utrecht, very similar as the distance between Yate and Bristol. The city's innovative traffic layout limits intra-city car use and gives priority to traffic safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

Core design features include narrow roads, application of traffic calming measures and separation of bicycle paths from car traffic whenever possible. The town of 50,000 inhabitants is divided into two main town centres, Houten and Houten Castellum. Each town centre is designed around a train station that is surrounded by a mixed-use environment with retail, offices and residential. The central areas have pedestrian and bicycle priority and are` surrounded by a ring road for car traffic, with a radius of approximately one kilometre.

The rest of the city is covered by an extensive, 129-kilometre-long network of bicycle paths. All neighbourhoods are only accessible to cars via the peripheral ring roads. The network of paths for cyclists and pedestrians includes a thoroughfare that passes directly through the town centre, providing filtered permeability for cyclists and pedestrians. Most of the schools and important buildings are located along this thoroughfare.

Thanks to this design, cycling is the most direct mode of transportation and is often even faster than travel by car. As a result, between 70% and 80% of trips to shopping, for leisure and visits are made by bike, bus and walking. Still 53% of home-work trips are made by car, mostly because this involves travel distances of over 15 kilometres.

Greener Grangetown

Greener Grangetown is a sustainable drainage scheme located in an existing urban area of Cardiff, South Wales. The design maximises the use of green infrastructure to future proof the drainage network, providing climate change resilience whilst also delivering enhanced public spaces, promoting sustainable travel, and helping biodiversity.

A key project objective is to enhance the visibility of water by creating green-blue corridors. This will encourage people to understand and value sustainable water management. The scheme comprises 12 residential streets, intercepting surface water runoff from roofs and highways, and conveying it into a total of 108 individual rain gardens. These cleanse the runoff before water is discharged to the nearby River Taff.

From the outset, regeneration and improvements to the public realm were key objectives. The streetscape will change from a car dominated environment to a street lined with trees and roadside planters creating a new set of vistas and providing a better setting for the existing homes. As well as visual improvements, the proposed green infrastructure had to also be functional and provide usable spaces for the community.

Public realm improvements focused on:

  • regeneration of existing spaces link neighbourhoods to the centre;
  • Environmental education to encourage water efficiency and behavioural change towards water usage;
  • Community engagement to ensure local identity was reinforced, and increase a sense of ownership, and;
  • To address issues associated with climate change to become more resilient to flooding and water shortages

Why is this relevant to Yate?
Yate Town Centre, the Industrial Estate and the station area, together with the existing neighbourhoods north and south of Station Road, and residential areas in south Yate, have the benefit of wide, leafy streets and green corridors, but there could be opportunities to provide climate change mitigation measures. For example, by providing sustainable urban drainage systems that can provide resilience to climate change and enhance biodiversity throughout the town.
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