Ashford's Integrated Alternatives

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Engineering Computer Science and Maths


Progress towards sustainable development is gathering pace in the UK. Many government initiatives have been announced in recent years: the 2005 Sustainable Development Strategy: Securing the Future, the 2006 Code for Sustainable Homes, the initiation of the Academy for Sustainable Communities and the Communities England Agency. Activity and thinking are also being influenced by preparations for the 2012 Olympics. Targets set are challenging, aspirations are high, but there is no established or guaranteed road map to achieve them and traditionally separate and centralised delivery of water, energy and other services may not be able to deliver their share of the improvements needed. However, synergies, innovation, cost savings and environmental benefits may be achieved through more holistic thinking, different scales of provision, by greater integration between different service sectors and through different business delivery models. So far, there are few significant examples in the UK of this approach. So, this timely research will explore the extent to which more integrated urban utility service provision can contribute to this agenda and enhance the adaptive capacity of these systems, vital to ensure long-term sustainability under changing climatic, environmental, demographic and economic conditions. This will be demonstrated by working in partnership with Ashford's Future as they deliver regeneration and sustainable development in this key area.
Description Even before the publication of the Greater Ashford Development Framework (GADF) in 2005, managers of Ashford's future have had aspirations to be at the forefront nationally of 'sustainable' development as they steered Government (ODPM) proposals for a 31,000 new homes quota for the town towards fruition. A SPV (Ashford's Future Company Ltd) was established in 2008 to spearhead the process of a highly complex development plan and to draw in funding from public and private sources to ensure a 'green' future for the town.

The AIA research team (Universities of Exeter, Bradford and Surrey together with Cranfield University and Imperial College London) was able to observe progress, identify planning pathways and conduct interviews with key people associated with Ashford's revitalised progress. One of the central issues the project considers is that of the delivery, or potential co-delivery of utilities towards a more sustainable and hence a greatly carbon - reduced future. The themes central to the research have been:
• Improving the decision making process;
. Encouraging collective action;
• The scale and value of uniting utilities;
• Uniting utilities - organisationally practical

As a whole, the AIA project findings highlight that the pathway towards integrated or sustainable development is a multi-faceted, many-layered, iterative process, with no simple 'solution' or 'right way' of doing things. However, in order to embed greater resilience and adaptivity into 'cities of the future', such as Ashford, new more socially, technically and organisationally-integrated systems, practices and processes are required.
Exploitation Route The work is of particular relevance to planning authorities, water service providers and energy providers as they strive to roll out more cot-effective or environmentally efficient methods of service delivery. Practitioners will find useful advice on participatory planning approaches, business models, and technical pathways. The main outputs of the project presented to representatives of Ashford and the SPV in February 2011. A practitioner guide was produced.......
Sectors Energy

Description This short project concluded in 2009, coinciding with the financial crisis. Unfortunately, the main impact beneficiary Ashford's Future was abolished early in 2011 and the South East England Development Agency was similarly closed. Thus impact was limited to collaboration and learning during the project period.
First Year Of Impact 2008
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Energy,Environment
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

Description Land of the MUSCos
Amount £574,957 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/J00555X/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2011 
End 06/2014
Description Safe and SuRe
Amount £1,500,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K006924/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2013 
End 02/2018