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Aviemore and Vicinity Coummunity Council
The Aviemore and vicinity Community Council first had the idea of creating new homes on the Rothiemurchus side of the river Spey. They hope to make the Spey at the centre of community life in Aviemore.
We decided to support the Aviemore Community Council’s plans because we wanted to ensure that any new settlement is an attractive place that supports our environment and our community. If we had the opportunity to work with the community to ensure this happens, we felt it was our responsibility to do so.
We put together a team with international experience and a local understanding to make an environmentally sustainable design.
The urgent need for local and affordable homes
Rothiemurchus, like many local businesses, employs people who have had difficulty finding a local and affordable home.
Local workers aspire to own their own home, build a home- or rent a home for a fair rent. We hope that by focusing on good design and working alongside government, we can make home ownership affordable to local workers.
The need for local workspace
We rent space to businesses that find the lack of appropriate workspace is a constraint on their ambitions and local people’s opportunities.
We hope that An Camas Mòr can change this by providing work and office space that will enable local businesses to realise their potential, and also attract new businesses.
We also create space where people can provide services locally and globally.
The high street
The high street includes free floor plans on the ground floor- this could be spaces for shops and cafes.
We plan flexible office space suitable for growing enterprises or so that people can work remotely but not be isolated.
To deliver in-built resilience to changes in the market, we will design spaces that include free floor plans for mixed-use, change of use and that allow for local sub-letting.
Working from home
Working from home can take many forms at An Camas Mòr.
-We plan workspace in the home;
-the opportunity to live above the shop on the high street
-homes that can be split into two parts so that home businesses can have their own door to the street.
Workshops and sheds
We plan bigger sheds in the backlands of the village. This could be space to store outdoor equipment; a place for a workshop or a large office.
To build on local expertise in tourism and outdoor instruction, there will be space for bed and breakfasts and guest houses. We also make room for spaces that residents can sub-let to visitors and seasonal workers.
The Masterplan aims to create an economically sustainable community by including as many different kinds of household as possible and by designing many different sorts of home that can be owned or rented in many different ways. This aims to support a diverse population.
We have designed public space to physically bring people together and thereby stimulate economic activity- for people to pass the shop window, public space for market stalls for friends to meet in the street, outside school. A community with strong social links supports economic networks too.
Affordable homes are not just a matter of finance- An Camas Mòr has thought through the different parts that make a home affordable. This widens everyone’s opportunities- whether you are looking for a big house or a small flat.
All sorts of home
To enable everyone to get a foot on the first rung of the property ladder- and then climb up, we plan for as many sorts of home as possible – from town houses to detached houses, from one bedroom flats to large apartments.
Saving on land
So that people will be able to afford a quality home at a lower cost, the design will use a small footprint efficiently, by placing homes at the edge of a long plot. This will actually give the feeling of more space.
Homes that are on the corner of their site, close to the street make the most of the space we use –such as the back garden- and save on the land that we don’t use but normally have to pay for- such as the gaps between homes and between the street.
Smaller cost of infrastructure
Homes that are placed at the edge of the site need shorter streets and therefore save on surfacing. The saving on non-porous surface is also good for the environment.
We plan to reduce cost of utility infrastructure such as plumbing and wiring by minimising the distance of homes from the street and between houses.
The designs would use local and durable materials when possible that are economical, withstand the weather and need minimum upkeep.
It is our aim to use local contractors and self-build wherever possible- this makes it easy and less costly to maintain and adapt buildings in the future.
Efficient running costs
An Camas Mòr is designed to use energy carefully, not only to reduce the cost of a home, but also to ease the cost of living both financially and environmentally.
We plan to use cutting-edge technologies that minimise energy use, such as intelligent fittings.
We plan buildings that are joined-up gable-end to gable-end. This prevents loss of heating by lessening the external wall space.
So that residents can benefit from economies of scale, we plan district heating for the higher density homes.
An Camas Mòr will make maximum use of the warmth and light of the sun by orientating the buildings east-west where practical, with big windows on south-facing walls and possibly solar panels on the roof. The design plans to make maximum use of natural lighting by creating long and narrow homes with windows on two sides of each room.
We design spaces that are suitable for residents to sub-let to visitors and seasonal workers- such as a self-contained flat in the garden.
We plan homes that can have self-contained parts which would be suitable for flat sharing or multi-generational living.
-individual detached homes on the edge of town,
-joined-up town houses
-to flats as part of a small co-operative.
Adaptable and extendable
Homes will be designed and placed on the plot in a way that gives people the opportunity to extend or adapt their home in the future.
We will look at options for financing self-build properties also.
A happening community
An Camas Mòr will be a happening community. The close blend of homes, workspace and public space mean that there will be constant goings-on. This tends to be the kind of environment preferred by people working locally. Second-home owners generally favour locations that are more isolated.
Spaces to share with visitors
To encourage sustainable tourism, people on holiday will have a wide choice of place to stay that bring them into contact and exchange with local people – bed and breakfast on the High Street, top floor apartments with vistas (views through the trees), serviced suites and cafes, restaurants and bars for meeting local people.
We design independent living spaces that can be sub-let by residents. This will encourage people to take part in the sharing economy, promote exchange between visitors and locals. It will enable everyone to share in the prosperity that tourism brings.
Well connected workplaces
We will create well-connected spaces where people can provide services globally. This could be home workspace or a large office in which to grow a business locally. This will give people in high value employment – who have previously moved away- the opportunity to permanently work in Strathspey. We hope that by enabling people to both work hard and play hard in the place they prefer, we will bring greater prosperity to the area.
I asked the Highland Council and Landscape Architect –they advised that this is the best way to shelter people and screen the settlement.
The trees and careful design means that when the settlement is looked at from the distance of the surrounding hills, discrete buildings will stay unseen.
Hidden in the woods
We planted the first trees to screen Aviemore from the Cairngorms (Aviemore has grown since). We planted the second plantation to create the woodland environment at An Camas Mòr.
At Rothiemurchus, we hope there will be no buildings that show above the tree canopy; a good example of this is the nearby Coylum Bridge Hotel.
Settlements that are sheltered by the forest are traditional at Rothiemurchus. An Camas Mòr follows in the local custom of being a community set in the woods and will also be visually screened by the trees.
Architecture and careful landscaping
The settlement will visually fit in to the landscape with structures of only 3 1/2 stories or lower.
We will design around mature grannie pines, keep planted trees that screen homes and also plant new trees.
Forested wedges that permeate into the settlement will blend the boundaries of the site. This will also bring the community closer to the nature that is so beneficial to people’s happiness.
The building materials will be chosen to blend in with the woodland setting. An Camas Mòr plans for natural earth colours that are found in traditional materials- timber cladding, traditional lime harling and local stone. We will avoid the colour white.
Through careful design, we will create a compact footprint that wholly avoids sensitive areas. The site is concentrated on semi-natural grazing land almost entirely planted with trees for the purpose of providing a setting for the woodland community. A cluster of village homes that respects the woodland will bring us closer to the nature that is so beneficial to our happiness.
Homes will be placed on long narrow plots- shortening the distances in-between homes. So the streets will be shorter and the area of non-porous surface will be lessened. This also means that we can preserve the woodland in back gardens that connects people to the natural world.
The design positively celebrates the natural undulations of the site and existing planting.
The small footprint of homes means that we can leave much of the ground cover untouched, keep the topsoil and leave much of the semi-natural habitats alone.
Old grannie pine trees will be conserved; we will keep as many recently planted trees as possible and will also plant new indigenous species such as Scots pine, juniper, birch and heather.
An Camas Mòr is designed to bring the forest into the village: wedges of trees will permeate the settlement for nature. Green crossings between the corridors, across road and streets will create a network that supports the boundless migration of wildlife.
Conserving and enhancing Natura Habitats and species (mitigation)
The new community is well separated from the designated Natura Habitats; these special sites will be available for the enjoyment in accordance with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code that gives everyone a right of responsible access.
EA ecology report
New habitats (compensation)
The overall effect of An Camas Mòr will be to enhance the natural heritage interest of the area. To do this compensation area for the land that will be built on have been identified that will provide enhanced quality of equivalent habitat in the vicinity. These areas are more than twice the size of the proposed built area.
Close encounters with the natural world are also aimed to stimulate people’s support of local wildlife.
We bring nature to people to encourage an outdoor life; the trees not only nurture natural life, they will also shelter people an encourage a healthy lifestyle.
To expand natural habitats to people’s homes, we will encourage wall planting, sedum roofs and permeable surfaces for rainwater collection.
We will also encourage people to include native species within their gardens, so that they may enjoy the local wildlife. We plan to include bird nesting boxes and bat boxes as part of the design of homes and public space.
Supervision of pets
We will plan dedicated areas for exercising dogs where they will leave wildlife untouched.
Residents will be properly informed about how to ensure cats do no harm; given advice on how to obtain reflective collars and bells and how they can support the re-introduction of the Scottish Wildcat.
The Community Association will be responsible for ensuring that pets are kept under proper control.
In the future, there will be a Community Association of residents and businesses. They will be responsible for ensuring people look after the village and natural surroundings. This is part of the planning framework.
We will promote mutual co-operation by designing public spaces for community focus.