Design Vision and Creation
When designing The Old Meadow, Andrew Arrol RIBA AABC, the award-winning architect of Shrewsbury's "Arrol Architects Limited", immediately saw that the new estate would be of critical townscape and landscape importance.
Consequently the architect carefully crafted his designs so that the new estate would blend sympathetically with the late 18th and early 19th century Georgian architecture for which Shrewsbury is renowned.
In this regard the architect's vision is reflected in the style of the estate's timber windows, his choice of bricks, the cornice design with stone details, the traditional cast iron railings and elegant columns, to other touches such as the lamp-posts and the dwellings' exterior lights which emulate an old gas lantern.
At the foot of this page are two drawings created to reflect the architect's vision of the new estate.
They were prepared by Mr. Arrol's colleague James Wade.
The Old Meadow was designed to withstand the impact of climate change and make certain it was safe over its lifetime as well as ensuring that it did not act to increase flood risk elsewhere. These aims were achieved by raising the floor level of the homes and moving them back from the river as well as incorporating natural flood storage areas in the shape of the communal gardens. In February 2020 the river burst its banks and rose in excess of 12 feet - the highest level for 20 years. But due to the measures taken in the careful design of the estate we were left comfortably high and dry.
Work on the gardens began in 2013, at that time The Old Meadow was known as Riverside Meadow. The project was therefore named the Riverside Project and was undertaken by Keary Design associates of Leicester, headed by David Keary, Chartered Landscape Architect.
The project called for the defining, designing and refining of landscape plans for the site built on the old Shrewsbury Town Football Ground.
Nestled on the banks of the River Severn, the development blends into the outlying natural environment with considered and thoughtful plant selection, landscape form and flow. Visual impacts from across the river, alongside the river and from the residents' perspective were given equal preference.
Keary Design Associates provided the masterplan and detailed soft landscape plan to create the highest quality courtyard and communal space whilst preserving the natural aspect of the riverside walk and alleviating the flood impact in the adopted public open space.
Meadow mixes, tree species and ornamental plant selection was critical, finding plants that would not be compromised by regular flooding but would also thrive in well-drained soils on raised terraces. Plants within the courtyard where chosen at a scale and form appropriate to their confined location.
The design itself is asymmetrical to maximise the south-facing aspect for sunlight and ensure courtyard planting avoids the shadows cast by the surrounding buildings.
The scheme integrates pathways and planting on steep and undulating banks. The design comes to a crescendo in a central focal point and community area for the residents and seating.
Its outlying areas are given height and form from statement trees along the riverbank. Tree species selection provides continuity of existing exotic varieties used in the neighbouring botanical gardens - including taxodium distichum and liquidambar styraciflua.
Caring for the gardens
At a point prior to the developer David Wilson Homes leaving the site in 2014, local gardening contractors, Limetree Landscapes, of Wellington, were appointed to carry out routine maintenance of the gardens. The small local company led by Malcolm Shambley, its proprietor, continue to carry out this role. The Limetree team are on site on Fridays of most weeks throughout the year carrying out an agreed schedule of work, including mowing the lawned areas, pruning, weeding and clearing pathways. Their work extends beyond the two courtyard gardens to include the many feature beds and borders around the development.
One director of The RMC has responsibility for the gardens and acts as the liaison person, on behalf of residents, with the contractor.