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Kingston Mills scheme wins CABE blessing

Broadway Malyan has scored a notable breakthrough in the way its work is perceived by CABE. The architect - which has been on the receiving end of a series of critical design review reports from the commission in the past on projects such as its 'disappointing'Met Office scheme, overcomplicated housing proposed for the Guinness site in Wandsworth, and 49-storey Vauxhall Tower - has convinced CABE it has come up trumps.

It has won CABE's support for a £20 million mixed-use scheme in Bradford-upon-Avon - two years after the commission savaged an earlier attempt at the project by another architect.CABE is now satisfied that the design of the housing, offices and retail project for the Kingston Mills site in the centre of the west Wiltshire town has lost the 'mundane'and 'too suburban' feel of the first effort by the Architecture and Planning Group.

CABE has been encouraged that Broadway Malyan's scheme for client Bryant Homes - now in for planning permission - has evolved A&PG's efforts on the project in February 2000. And it believes it has now been sufficiently consulted on by statutory bodies and other local interest groups, boasts a density which might bring about a sustainable town centre, and features urban design principles which will extend existing patterns to the town.

'We are pleased to see the further progress that has been made with the designs, 'said CABE's head of design review Peter Stewart in a letter to the council.'We would now be happy to see this scheme go ahead.'

The 127-dwellings scheme lies on a riverside site, adjacent to a Grade II-listed bridge and with the River Avon forming the southern boundary.

It features the refurbishment of nine existing buildings, regeneration of semi-derelict square Lamb Yard,4,000m 2of mixed-use space and a new focal riverside public space for outdoor facilities, all as a 'bold and innovative response to the site', according to the developers. The town is characterised by traditional cottages climbing up the valley sides with predominantly slated or tiled double-pitched roofs. Project architect Allan McCulloch said the scheme also now has English Heritage on board, although a local group still feels it is too dense and wanted a more traditional treatment.

CABE commends the 'pleasing richness of treatment within a consistent architectural language'along with early plans for a second proposed bridge for the town. This would be a great asset, it says, contributing to permeability as well as relieving pressure on the old one across the Avon. It should be an integral though 'low key'part of the project, expressed without resorting to 'structural gymnastics'.

CABE had said that A&PG's designs had been too 'suburban', failed to create a sense of place and represented a 'lost opportunity'.

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