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Building for Life 12 is a standard that encourages implementations for well-designed neighbourhoods [1]. It is the traffic-light toolkit that will be used to analyse Sinclair Meadows eco-village in South Shields, the UK’s first carbon-negative street [2].

Building for Life 12 Criteria [1]
1. Connections

Sinclair Meadows fits in with the surrounding land use, but fails to make new connections within its context, as to the singular gateway limits permeability between the scheme and surrounding neighbourhoods.


2. Facilities & services

The scheme is in good proximity to amenities (schools, surgeries, churches, shops and restaurants) within 20-minute walking distance. However, most require walking across a motorway.

Sinclair Meadows: Facilities and services within walking distance [Author’s own]
3. Public transport

Bus 12 runs along the site entrance, linking to the town centre and interchange. Chichester Metro is within 10-minute walking distance. However, there could be more public transport options (e.g. town centre shuttle), considering the eco-village theme.

Sinclair Meadows: Context and public transport [Author’s own]
4. Meeting local housing requirements

Sinclair Meadows offers 9 three-bedroom houses and 12 two-bedroom flats [2], all of which are rented [3]. This responds to South Tyneside’s requirement of mixed housing typologies, but fails to meet tenure mix [4].

Sinclair Meadows: 12 two-bedroom flats (left) and 9 three-bedroom houses (right) [Author’s own]
5. Character

Distinct architectural style such as timber cladding reinforces the scheme’s eco-friendly theme, but is not inspired by local character.

Sinclair Meadows: Distinct & sustainable character [Author’s own]
6. Working with the site & its context

The scheme successfully utilises building placement as noise mitigation, and takes advantage of orientation to maximise solar panel productivity.


7. Creating well defined streets & spaces

Form and landscaping are implemented to enhance outdoor space, with all buildings facing towards communal gardens to create a sense of privacy within the scheme.


8. Easy to find your way around

The scheme is designed around a central courtyard and shared gardens, and the different typologies are clearly defined, creating good legibility.


9. Streets for all

The site has a no car policy [5] and provides communal gardens, seating and a courtyard, which promotes social activity. Children’s toys are left within the courtyard, suggesting the space is used as a safe play area.

Sinclair Meadows: Courtyard promotes social interaction [Author’s own]
10. Car parking

The scheme has minimal parking with approximately 10 spaces, however this means it doesn’t dominate the street and is appropriate for its eco-village theme.


11. Public & private spaces

Private gardens at the front of houses are clearly defined as being separate to each other, and to the communal garden and courtyard. These are well maintained and appear safe and attractive.

SInclair Meadows: Well maintained landscaping [Author’s own]
12. External storage & amenity space

Each house is well-equipped with a storage shed, and all properties have designated self-contained bin points.

Sinclair Meadows: House storage shed [Author’s own]
Sinclair Meadows: Flats’ bin point [Author’s own]
Overall, the scheme is given 7 greens and 5 ambers – it successfully considers aspects which create a well-designed neighbourhood, particularly prioritising safety and social interaction.


[1] Birkbeck, D. & Kruczkowski, S. (2015) Building for Life 12: The Sign of a Good Place to Live, Nottingham Trent University.

[2] Inhabitat (2012) Sinclair Meadows: Residents Move Into the UK’s First Carbon-Negative Street, Available at: [Accessed on 24/02/20].

[3] BBC News (2012) Sinclair Meadows: The street that removes its own carbon footprint, Available at: [Accessed on 24/02/20].

[4] South Tyneside Council (2019) Integrated Housing Strategy, Available at: [Accessed on 24/02/20].

[5] Fitz Architects (2020) Sinclair Meadows, Available at: [Accessed on 24/02/20].

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Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

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