Peabody Housing Dagenham Green

a collage with cogs, trees and paper representing the Peabody project

Futureground continues to lead strategic sustainability for Peabody Housing Group on a proposed 3,500 home mixed-use development scheme in East London.

The Peabody Group is responsible for more than 67,000 homes in London and the South East housing over 155,000 residents. With 150 years of heritage and expertise, their mission is to “help people make the most of their lives”. Our current appointment spans outline design, planning applications and design development on the former Ford Dagenham plant site.

"If someone asked me whose views on sustainability I value from strategic down to an operational level I’d always recommend Nick."

A blank canvas for social value

Asking challenging questions beyond climate and carbon, we helped our client to set out a vision for 3,500 homes; 1,550 of them set aside for affordable rent and shared ownership. This complex site features a centralised energy centre with land for a new 10-form entry secondary school and extensive public realm including a five-acre urban park.

This progressive application is in keeping with Peabody’s long-term ethos of building and maintaining best quality developments within a community. The aim is to form sustainable partnerships that grow and use their influence to create positive change.

“People know us from certain styles of housing and classy heritage schemes where some of our houses are over 100 years old,” said Peter Cross, Peabody’s Project Director. He explains the company’s desire to create the “next great estate” framed within a practical context – where sustainability is environmentally focused but also adds huge social value.

“In fact, Nick raised the idea of working with the Peabody Community Foundation to look at the opportunity to bring volunteers into the scheme. The Peabody Community Foundation is the social value arm of our business and attracts people willing to offer their time in order to see better social outcomes. It’s this holistic approach that makes Futureground unique.”

Project specific challenges

A constrained brownfield site was the first major challenge.

We had to create a project-level sustainability strategy in both technical and regulatory context. What’s more, the start of this work in 2020 coincided with the establishment of the overall group sustainability strategy.

The challenge of engaging a large team was made trickier still when we entered an era of lockdowns and remote working due to the global pandemic.

"Nick is not one of these sustainability people who’s all about pure metrics on zero carbon."

Optimised approaches

We focused on creating an optimised approach for added value and de-risked delivery with three focused support processes:

  • We carried out research, workshops and interviews with the wider organisation in a programme-level vision to create a strategic framework for sustainability and social value. This informed strategy and secured buy-in from a variety of internal stakeholders.
  • We supported the design and technical team to develop practical solutions to support several innovation areas. This included social value initiatives, lifecycle financial and carbon modelling, and the delivery of net zero carbon properties.
  • We presented as the client and for the project on all sustainability matters externally. This included attending design reviews and local authority meetings to ensure a clear understanding of the sustainability strategy and its complex, innovative nature

“Nick is not one of these sustainability people who’s all about pure metrics on zero carbon,” says Peter. “He brings balance. He asked questions like a critical but positive friend about resident’s bills, creating jobs for local people, and ensuring residents could understand how things work.”

Clear positive impacts

We focused on providing clarity to the client and delivery team in these distinct ways:

  • By creating a single, simple project sustainability strategy we joined group-wide policy with project-level dots.
  • By giving peace of mind to the client, who knew the emerging design was optimised by the robust but positive challenges provided to the delivery team.
  • By de-risking delivery through clearly positioning sustainability within Planning information rather than simply in the context of internal project ambitions.

“Futureground identified needs in the community by asking questions like how do we benefit not just our own residents but the whole area,” says Peter. For example, some local people wanted a quicker route to the station. Others wanted somewhere to have a coffee as they watched their kids play in the park.

“It’s this type of lateral thinking about the social infrastructure that Nick and his team bring to a project. The role of the developer is to not just to lessen the impact, Nick goes further to ask how we can create extra benefits. If someone asked me whose views on sustainability I value from strategic down to an operational level I’d always recommend Nick.”

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“Futureground brought a fresh pair of eyes and a breadth of experience.”
“If someone asked me whose views on sustainability I value from strategic down to an operational level I’d always recommend Nick.”
‘They brought an understanding of the strategic planning side along with a practical knowledge of how things are working on the ground.”
“They distinguish themselves from the mainstream by delivering a truly tailored outcome genuinely co-created with their clients.”