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ARCHITECT'S ACCOUNT

The brief was to engage with the client group and local residents and to prepare a masterplan that would address the key community and urban design issues, namely identity, security, clarity of ownership of public space, appropriate scale and relationship to surroundings.

Essentially, the new development was to be a model of sustainable urban regeneration, designed to overcome the physical problems of the failed 1960s estate and built to stand the test of time. All homes were to be designed to Parker Morris space standards and to Lifetimes Homes standards with some provision for full wheelchair accessibility.

A phased programme was required to minimise disruption for those tenants who had elected to stay and be rehoused. The majority of the new social housing is for rent, although 33 shared ownership flats are included in phase two.

The design concept evolved out of a series of design workshops held with local residents, who were keen to develop a form of housing that would foster a sense of community. The masterplan therefore comprises four courtyards separated by Home Zones, with the private sale housing in a linear block fronting Cooper's Road and Rolls Road at the northern end of the site. The courtyard design provides a clear hierarchy of private, semi-private and public spaces, which all benefit from natural visual surveillance. Each courtyard provides a mix of eight townhouses and around 30 flats and maisonettes grouped around a landscaped communal garden, which is for the exclusive use of those residents. In addition the houses have a small 'private' garden.

The scale is predominantly three and four storeys, with four-storey flats providing a strong urban edge to Cooper's Road. There is no significant increase in the density from the demolished housing - around 370 habitable rooms per hectare - and car-parking provision is at 50 per cent, all on street.

From the outset we were keen to establish a clear set of sustainability targets that could be afforded within the project budget. This included enhanced standards of thermal insulation, high-performance windows, accessible riser ducts, community heating and CHP, low-flush WCs, cycle storage and recycling facilities.

In addition, the design offers the opportunity of retrofitting roof-mounted solar thermal collectors or photovoltaics at a later stage. The scheme achieved a 'very good' Eco Homes rating and is in line with the requirements of Secured by Design.

Most importantly, the residents who have persevered throughout the past seven years, and contributed significant amounts of time and energy, are delighted with the result.

David Turrent, ECD Architects

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