Developers invest £85,000 in better broadband for housing estate
The Kings Reach development in Biggleswade is a significant boost to the town sizes with plans for something like 1,500 properties based new market squares and village greens off Saxon Drive on the eastern side of Biggleswade.
Campaigners chasing for better broadband speeds on the new development have succeeded in getting developers Martin Grants and Taylor Wimpey to give some £85,000 towards bringing superfast broadband to the ever growing estate. The area was not on the superfast radar as part of the Central Bedfordshire Council broadband project, being in the final phase with just a minimum 2 Mbps effort, and at the time of the commercial roll-outs from Openreach there was probably no new builds at all.
A good chunk of Biggleswade appears to have Virgin Media cable coverage with a highest speed test result of 155 Mbps on the very edge of the latest building phases. It would have made sense for Virgin Media to be approached and extend the network since new home owners are very often those looking for the full bundle of broadband and TV, or even better for the developers to have involved a FTTH operator.
It looks like the job has gone to BT and its Openreach arm, and we know of two cabinets serving the first phase of properties on the estate cabs 25 and 28, our current speed estimates for ADSL2+ are 2 to 3 Mbps (BT Wholesale says 1 to 3.5 Mbps and Ofcom data suggests 0.6 Mbps to 1.4 Mbps), the one ADSL2+ speed test we have currently is just 1 Mbps. The disparity between map based estimates and real world is partly down to the current design of estates with intricate curved roads that extend cable lengths even further. The speeds for the area from VDSL2 are unclear, if cabinet 28 is where Streetview shows it is then some may not get superfast speeds, but we believe there is a cabinet on Planets Way that would give people much better speeds. Openreach might re-engineer the network to site new cabinets, a lot depends on the timescales of delivery and the rate the estate grows at.
While researching this article we found a pdf entitled 'Commissioning Framework for Public Art', that includes suggested spending of some £260,000 on public art. The snippet we want to share and then have re-worded is below:
- Public Art should be integrated into a development’s design process from the early design stages and be addressed in Master Plans and Design Briefs.
- Where possible artists should be appointed as an integral part of a design team.
- Public Art should be site specific responding to the place and the people. Consideration should be given to local materials, history and the appropriateness of artwork to its environment.
- Public Art should be uniquely created and of high quality.Extract from public art for Kings Reach plan
- Broadband should be integrated into a development’s design process from the early design stages and be addressed in Master Plans and Design Briefs.
- Where possible engineers should be appointed as an integral part of a design team.
- Broadband should be site specific responding to the place and the people. Consideration should be given to local materials, history and the appropriateness of broadband to its environment.
- Broadband services should be uniquely created and of high quality.The broadband interpretation
The fact that an art plan exists ahead of a key utility says a lot about the planning process and the mind set of developers. Good marks for the developers to be doing something now, but it is not like it is 2001 when broadband was a geek thing, 80% of UK households have a broadband service. Unfortunately we still see too many people buying a new house and on having signed the contract discover broadband infrastructure is poor.