New Urbanism is a philosophy that is being adopted in Scotland to help create environmentally friendly and sustainable new communities. One such development being built on New Urbanism lines, and already flourishing, is Chapelton, located on the Duke of Fife's Elsick estate, just south of Aberdeen.
The Elsick Development Company (EDC) is currently building a new community on the 2,000-acre farmland estate, which has the potential to provide 8,000 homes across seven neighbourhoods.
In October 2010, EDC, along with its design partners DPZ, held a 10-day charrette – a design and public consultation workshop. It invited local people, together with other stakeholders such as Aberdeenshire Council and interested house builders, along to give them the opportunity to learn about the project and input their opinions and ideas.
The first house at Chapelton was built at the end of 2014 and occupied in 2015, and now there are more than 120 houses, bringing the town's population to just under 300 people, and work is currently under way on a 94-unit retirement village comprising houses and apartments.
Chapelton also has a number of established businesses such as a café-bistro, beauty salon and nursery, and these have become important centres for the burgeoning community. EDC itself also promotes community engagement through fun events such as the annual bike race, Christmas festivities and summer barbecues.
Bob Miller, who runs Teacake, the local café-bistro, says that he has seen a friendly, close community spirit build up in the town over the past few years. He said: “It's nice here as everyone knows each other now and they are happy to stop and chat in the street or meet for a coffee at the café. It's particularly busy at the weekends when people are out and about. There are great walks around the estate to enjoy where you can bump into your neighbours and there are lots of community events that EDC help to organise. For example, we had a great Hogmanay at the café and afterwards there was a community party.
The Chapelton development will eventually take over almost the entire Elsick estate, but the plan is to preserve the features of the estate such as the existing trees and farm buildings and eventually convert Elsick House – the Duke's childhood home – as a facility for the town centre park.
The Duke of Fife said: “So far, we have outline planning permission for 4,000 homes, which is about half the site. It's quite low density overall, but that is because green space accounts for 40 per cent of the development.
“We market Chapelton as a ‘village life' concept. People like the idea of slightly more rural living, but do not like the idea of being stuck out in the country. This is exactly what we are trying to achieve – a series of villages with a town centre with all the advantages of green space and a neighbourhood community, and a full range of facilities that will be developed over time.”