Children from the rundown Walker area of Newcastle, which is undergoing a £450 million facelift, recently gained an insight into the environmental technology used to generate power for new homes thanks to the Planning Aid North (PAN) team.
As many as 1,800 homes will be built in Walker over the next 15 years under a huge regeneration package. Planning Aid has been working with groups in the community to ensure that they have their say on how their neighbourhood will be shaped by the developments.
As part of a series of initiatives with local youngsters, pupils from St Vincent's primary school visited a housing scheme to see how solar panels and energy-saving devices are installed. The fact-finding trip to the nearby Rivers Gate scheme was linked to a series of energy conservation and sustainability lessons given by PAN's Ray Anglesea.
The children, many of whom will live in the new homes, were able to draw on the experience of the visit to design their own model houses. The schemes included micro wind turbines, solar photovoltaic panels and water heaters, double glazing and smart meters. Cavity walls and loft insulation also formed part of the design. The outside of the homes was considered, particularly in terms of recycling bins, water butts and compost bins.
Elsewhere in the country, South West Planning Aid regional co-ordinator Barry Pearce has been appointed visiting professor at the University of the West of England school of planning in Bristol. Pearce will combine this position with his current role at Planning Aid, giving lectures and researching fields such as community involvement and engagement, in which he has particular expertise.
Pearce has worked as a senior lecturer in planning, combining teaching and research at the University of Cambridge. He has been a senior planning executive at the East of England Development Agency, a planning inspector and a director of the Cambridge Civic Society.
His experience covers issues in housing, economic development and heritage. A former consultant to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Nuffield Foundation as well as a magistrate, Pearce takes a special interest in the development of mediation and negotiation skills and their use in the planning system.