Bishops Court, Exeter

Description

Bishops Court, located just outside of Exeter, Devon was the original seat of the Bishop of Exeter. Although the current palace was remodelled during the 19th Century, the property dates back to 1265, and its farm buildings, stone barns and stables are recognised as the oldest in England.

The whole estate measures over 1250 acres at its largest, with villages encroaching on the city of Exeter itself. The river Clyst runs through the estate, creating opportunities for mineral and aggregate extraction, which occurred after the Second World War, at the time of   the break up of the estate, (now reduced to 36 acres of parkland surrounding the palace.)

The Bishops Court Quarry was used for over 70 years for mineral extraction, until this was no longer viable, and was backfilled with surplus sand. Following this, the sand was then processed and sold, and the site became a concrete batching plant and aggregate store; its closeness to the M5 and surrounding industrial estates made it an ideal location for this industry. However, the pressing need for housing in and around Exeter meant that the 21-acre site was too valuable for commerce, and was decontaminated and sold to Redrow Homes for residential development.

Albeit with the constraints of a Regionally Important Geological/Geomorphological Site – the sandstone faces of the old quarry display the Dawlish sandstone brilliantly. The master plan included 250 properties with excellent road, cycling, walking and rail links that have been constructed to a high standard, under the Redrow slogan Green Building not Green Washing. The Redrow 8, a set of 8 placemaking principles drives the design philosophy, and these are:

  • Listen & Learn
  • Keeping it local
  • Built to impress
  • Homes for all
  • Easy to get around
  • Places to go and things to do
  • Nature for people
  • Streets for life

The streets are built with green infrastructure integrated within the streetscape. A number of trees are planted in the soft verge areas of the main spine road, with other green planting areas interspersed across the development. Whilst much of the tree planting is within private front gardens, the central open green area is surrounded by trees, to become in time, a screened area of parkland available to all. On the northwest side of this park area, there are a number of public car parking bays, marked out by trees planted in between the parking bays.

Being planted in the hard surface meant that these trees would not have access to uncompacted soil, which is so essential to the long term health of the trees. Recognising this, ACD Environmental recommended the GreenBlue Urban ArborSystem solution to provide conditions below ground to allow root growth and tree establishment, manage the roots and protect the growing trees. The extremely strong RootCell was specified, keeping the soil in optimum uncompacted conditions, with the ArborGuy underground anchoring system keeping the tree upright, the Adur tree grille and Ullswater vertical guard protecting the trees from physical damage and the integrated HydroGrille allowing easy watering during the establishment phase. Twin ArborVents are installed for every tree in hard paving ensuring excellent gaseous exchange for the soil, and the final proof of the efficacy of the solution is the phenomenal rate at which the trees have grown – easily outstripping the adjacent trees in the grass area!

The installation was carried out by Tony Benger Landscaping, and the whole scheme has enhanced Redrow Homes green credentials, stating:-

We are able to respond to the demands of many busy housing developments at once. Whilst delivering projects on time is crucial, we also know we've got to get it right the first time so quality is always maintained.

Using products manufactured by GreenBlue Urban in the UK, from 100% recycled and recyclable material. We congratulate Redrow Homes SW for a building development that, in time, will be a truly green scheme, with healthy trees helping create a healthy neighbourhood.