With the arrival of new government legislation in the form of the Localism Bill, improvements to neighbourhoods in the UK that are popular, small-scale and fit in to larger plans for their area are likely to become simpler to achieve, through instruments known as neighbourhood development orders.
Last year, we advised an initiative of Sky Television in the UK called The Great Treehouse Challenge in which three communities across the country designed and delivered three new treehouses, supported by a team of designers, engineers and others led by architect Alex Shirley-Smith.
Our role was to advise from the outset on the opportunities and challenges of building a treehouse, the expertise required to deliver new structures and how to find a path of least regulatory resistance.
Thanks to Shirley-Smith, the communities, authorities, landowners and the driving determination of project producers Jeremy Daldry and Liberty Smith, the process of design and delivery took just eight months.
While the terms of the Localism Bill have and will continue to be fiercely contested, a new regime that seeks to democratise development and liberalise the regulatory regime should lead to the speedy design and build of more of these sorts of minimalist, meaningful, hyper-local projects.
Here are films of the three final built Treehouse Challenge structures.
Sky 1 HD on Vimeo: Alex Shirley Smith: Building your own tree house