Abercairney Place, Blackford
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Regenerating a small rural community
Robertson Partnership Homes has delivered the second phase of an affordable housing development in Blackford, Perthshire. It will inject new life and greater diversity, helping regenerate the area and local economy.
Blackford is a small community between Perth and Stirling. The area was identified by Perth & Kinross Council as having a distinct shortage of affordable housing. Our Abercairney Place development helps meet this need, reviving the community by introducing 38 high-quality affordable homes.
This is the second phase of the development: Phase 1 saw 11 units completed in 2011 for Hillcrest Housing Association.
Creating a sense of place
As an extension of the existing urban fabric to the North West of Blackford, the development's scale and massing reflects the first phase and original dwellings within Abercairney Place and the adjacent Moray Place, while creating a semi-rural transition between the urban built environment and the rural context beyond.
We have emphasised connectivity using pedestrian links to the public right of way flanking the site, creating permeable routes through to the countryside. These also link to the MUGA and play area that have been located to integrate the existing housing stock and new development, helping create a strong sense of community.
Pockets of green, open space throughout the site create recreational spaces next to the homes, which are located at key node points, while fingers of soft landscaping to the perimeter of the site soften the edges of the development and integrate its boundary with the rural context beyond. The massing of the site ensures that units are located on street interfaces, creating vistas and reinforcing a sense of place, in accordance with Designing Streets principles.
Architectural design quality
The level to which the buildings were constructed was in direct response to the floodplain created by the adjacent Danny Burn and Allanwater to the west and north of the site respectively.
The built form and detail design of these units is a modern interpretation of the vernacular dwellings already found in Abercairney Place, in the village of Blackford, and in the wider Perthshire area. The application of modern building techniques and materials provide a high-quality yet low-maintenance exterior finish.
The house types constructed are slight variations on the well-received designs of the original phase of this housing development, with layouts and construction specifications updated to reflect recent developments to the Building Regulations. A mix of four house types provide a selection of units of different sizes to meet the wide-ranging housing needs in the area, identified by HHA, and all units comply with both Housing for Varying Needs and Hillcrest Housing Association's design statements, as well as achieving Secured by Design accreditation.
The new affordable homes at Abercairney Place have been designed and constructed with a 'fabric first' approach. As a result, the thermal performance of elements such as floors, walls and roofs far exceed what is stipulated by the Building Regulations. We have used triple-glazed windows and enhanced airtightness, making use of mechanical extract ventilation systems. This further reduces the carbon footprint and running costs of the homes, while improving the quality of the internal living environment. The risk of fuel poverty is further reduced with the inclusion of solar photovoltaic panels, which provide residents with a sustainable energy source while also qualifying for the feed-in tariffs offered by the UK Government.
We achieved Bronze Active Level of Section 7 Building Regulations on the Abercairney Place development. This allowed additional funding to be granted for the inclusion of low- and zero-carbon technologies, such as the PV panels. A dedicated sustainable drainage system (SuDS) was installed to the north of the site, and the resulting wet pond has since created an environment that enhances and supports the local ecology.
Regenerating local communities
As part of this development, we have made financial contributions to education and for the upgrade of Blackford High Street, and included a multi-use games area and play park to enhance the recreational facilities.
The residents and families coming in to Blackford will inject new life into the community and will help support existing local amenities.