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Accordia developer Cherry dies

Alan Cherry, the developer behind the Stirling Prize-winning Accordia housing scheme, has died aged 76

The founding director of Countryside Properties, Cherry passed away early on Saturday (23 January) morning, having battled with cancer since last summer.

Cherry worked with Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Alison Brooks Architects and Maccreanor Lavington on the innovative 2008 Stirling Prize-winning scheme in Cambridge, seeing off high-profile competition from the likes of Zaha Hadid and Allford Hall Monaghan Morris.

Speaking at the AJ100 Breakfast Club at Claridges a year ago, Cherry warned the housing downturn might last up to three years, but optimistically said: ‘If there is a blessing in a recession, you have a bit more time to spend on planning’.

Cherry was survived by his wife and two sons, Graham and Richard.

A tribute to Alan Cherry

Guy Lambert of Countryside Properties

During his half century at the helm he has created one of the UK’s leading and most respected housing and property development companies, which specialises in the creation of sustainable communities and urban regeneration.  He has built a highly successful company with a pioneering vision and very strong key values. Alan was admired by many and will be greatly missed. Alan’s sons, Graham and Richard have been part of the senior management team for many years and will continue Alan’s vision and build upon his legacy.

Everybody who met Alan was aware of his qualities which shone through including his passion and desire to set new standards, his charisma and energy, his honesty and integrity, and his care for others whatever their role in life. His vision was always to create places for people where they could enjoy a high quality of life and was realised at such projects as the Greenwich Millennium Village in London, Great Notley Garden Village, Braintree or St Mary’s Island in Chatham, where his legacy is there for all to see.

He was passionate in his belief in design and environmental quality and he was therefore particularly proud when Accordia in Cambridge was the first housing scheme to receive the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2008. 

He spent many hours explaining his vision to politicians and influencers to help them shape policy. Alan pioneered the integration of affordable homes within a sustainable community and believed affordable homes should not be recognisable by their built form or appearance. He was a member of the Government’s Urban Task Force and prior to that was a member of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh’s Inquiry into British Housing and a member of the Inner City Commission.

He was awarded an MBE in 1984 and a CBE in 2003 for services to housing and regeneration. In 1991 Alan was elected an Honorary Member of The Royal Town Planning Institute.

He held a large number of outside directorships that focused his genuine wish and commitment to assist with regeneration and development activity wherever he could. Widely respected throughout the development industry he was a Past National President of The Home Builders Federation and was Chairman of the New Homes Marketing Board. 

He grew up in the massive urban sprawl of Dagenham, Ilford and Becontree and left school at 15. He studied part-time and qualified as a Chartered Surveyor before spending two years of National Service in the Corps of Royal Engineers during which time he was selected for Officer Cadet training and gained a commission. He believed his National Service experience did much to develop his character and leadership skills. 

Before establishing Countryside Properties, Alan was a founder partner of estate agency, Bairstow Eves, and for some years was its Managing Director.  

His involvement in development began on a part-time basis when he established Countryside Properties in 1958. In 1971 his full-time career as a developer began. 

In 1972, he floated Countryside Properties on the London Stock Exchange and it remained a quoted company until, with Graham and Richard, he completed a management buyout in 2005.

Alan never forgot his local roots. He was totally committed to the fortunes of his home town, Brentwood in Essex, and in 2008 was granted the Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Brentwood which was one of his proudest achievements. In 2002, he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Essex and was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Anglia Ruskin University in recognition of his long association with, and great contribution to, the development of the University and his assistance in the work of the Board of Governors as a member, Deputy Chairman and Chairman. He was also Chairman of the Brentwood Town Centre Renaissance Group.

Alan supported many charitable organisations and was Vice President of the Essex Community Foundation, Patron of the Brentwood Foyer, President of Brentwood, Hutton & Billericay Leukaemia Research Fund, and a former President of the Essex Air Ambulance Charity.

A memorial service will be held shortly.

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