Resident profiles - Katie and Paul, Port Loop, Birmingham
When you run your own urban design business, you know a thing or two about what makes a neighbourhood special. That’s why new homeowner, Katie and her husband Paul, were quite literally banging down the door to be the first people to reserve a new house at Port Loop in Birmingham.
Katie, said: “We were maybe a little too eager on the launch day, turning up three hours early just to make sure that we got the house we wanted but it was worth it and we are so excited to be the first people moving into Port Loop.
“A few years ago, we lived by Edgbaston Reservoir and had always pinpointed Ickneild Port Loop as somewhere that had so much potential to be a sought-after neighbourhood. Through my career, I’ve always admired the work that Urban Splash has done, so, when it was announced that they would be delivering the new homes at Port Loop, it felt like fate. Instantly, we knew it was where we wanted to live.”
Prior to the regeneration of Port Loop, the site had been an unused factory site that had been crying out for development. In 2018, it was announced that Port Loop was set to be transformed into a new neighbourhood, with homes, a revived focus on the canals, parks and shared gardens, a social and cultural hub and commercial space.
Setting itself apart from other housing developments in the UK, the developers behind Port Loop launched a manifesto for ‘island life’ with a new set of rules of how people should hope to live.
“You can tell that the developers have taken a different approach when thinking about the design of Port Loop,” explained Katie.
“Give it a few years and Port Loop will be somewhere that people talk about when speaking about best practice in urban design. With work, I visit lots of developments in places like Denmark and it’s exciting to think that, in the future, people will be visiting Port Loop and using it as a blueprint for successful design.
“I have a real interest in innovative housing products and I’m really impressed with modular house designs and believe that they will be the future of housebuilding.
“Urban Splash is encouraging people to think about their house as a customisable space rather than a defined set of rooms with prescribed uses. For us, it was a chance to reinvent the way we live. Our previous house had so much wasted space but, being able to configure our own space has meant that we’ve really taken the time to think about how our house can work around our lives. This is a house to be lived in. Rather than have two bedrooms, we’ve opted for one bedroom and a living room upstairs. Upstairs is going to be our space to relax whereas downstairs is our day to day space so we’ve gone for an open plan design that incorporates a kitchen, living area and an area to work. Modular homes give you this flexibility.”
Paul, who works as a Civil Servant, said: “I hadn’t actually seen the house types when we signed on the dotted line but, based on Katie’s level of excitement and the fact that Urban Splash is such a renowned and trusted brand, I knew that this was somewhere we had to live. When I went to the factory in Alfreton and saw the passion and excitement of the people building our new house, I knew we’d made the right decision.”
For Paul it’s not just the design of the new homes but the lifestyle that Port Loop offers that excites him.
“Moving to Port Loop gives us the perfect opportunity to think about being more sustainable in everything that we do. One of the rules in the manifesto is ‘be green without trying’ and that really resonates with us. Living at Port Loop means that we no longer have to drive to work, instead we have a really pleasant 25 minute walk along the canal.
“The idea of a shared garden works for us too. You get all the benefits of having a garden designed by an award-winning landscape architect with none of the maintenance. You can just sit down and enjoy it.
“We both have busy working lives but living at Port Loop means that we’re going to be able to use our time more constructively. We’ll be saving time on everyday activities such as commuting and gardening, leaving us more time to do the things that we love.”
Paul summed up his and Katie’s feelings perfectly when asked to describe Port Loop in three words. His answer? Our exciting future.
Port Loop is being delivered by developers Urban Splash and Places for People, alongside the charity, Canal & River Trust, and Birmingham City Council.