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Rogers' off Oxley Park as Taylor Wimpey proposes traditional finale

Taylor Wimpey is planning to complete its award-winning and ground-breaking Oxley Woods housing development by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) with 29 traditional, brick-built homes

The project in Milton Keynes, part of John Prescott’s £60k house initiative to promote off-site construction, won the Manser Medal in 2008 and was hailed as a ‘thoroughgoing attempt at innovation within the all-too risk-averse conventional housebuilders’ market’.

However the housebuilder has now turned to CMYK (Planning and Design) to deliver the final element of the previously pre-fabricated development in a similar traditional style to Taylor Wimpey’s nearby Oxley Gate development.

The move has angered residents, in particular Taylor Wimpey’s attempts at consultation. The housebuilder has told them it ‘was not seeking comments on the principles of development’ because the scheme already had outline permission

One resident on the Oxley Woods Living website responded saying: ‘Surely the principles of this development are fundamental to any changes Taylor Wimpey wish to make? Surely you cannot simply switch from award-winning, Government-backed, sustainable house construction, to higher density, brick built houses without re-apply for planning?’

‘[This] goes beyond the face value interpretation of “design”. Taylor Wimpey and CMYK are failing to see or acknowledge this. This highlights the threat to the development. I truly hope RSHP come back on board, and save us from this disaster waiting to happen.’

In 2009 residents complained about manufacturing faults at the development which caused leaks in some homes and it is understood a number of the windows and doors installed were found to be faulty.

However, according to Paul Mullett who lives on the development, these issues have now been ironed out. he said: ‘There have been no problems with latest incarnation of the windows. 

‘Eventually Taylor Wimpey replaced all ours with a modified design, which works 100 per cent as far as our experience goes. It took them time, and several attempts, but it looks like they’ve nailed just about all their build issues.  Which makes dropping the scheme even more disappointing really.’

Peter Gurr, regional managing director for Taylor Wimpey, said: ‘I can confirm that we are in the process of exploring new designs for the final two phases of 29 homes at Oxley Woods with CMYK (Design and Planning, a company with whom we work regularly in the design of our more traditional property types.

‘This process is being carried out with the full knowledge of RSHP and we are also seeking feedback from residents on the new designs, which are still at the conceptual stage.

‘We hope residents realise that this is not a decision which has been taken lightly. We remain as committed as ever to building sustainable homes and communities and all Taylor Wimpey homes are highly energy and water-efficient.’

Ivan Harbour, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, said: ‘We originally became involved in the Design for Manufacture (DfM) competition to help improve the quality of housing design, to look at modern methods of construction and to improve the environmental performance of new-build, mass-market homes in the UK.  We have been very happy with the spatial qualities and environmental performance achieved, as well as the materials used in the construction of the Oxley Woods houses to date.  We believe that the attainable technologies adopted for this project will have a huge influence on the future of sustainable mass-market housing.  

‘Since 2005, RSHP has worked with Taylor Wimpey  – according to the terms of the original DfM competition – to deliver approximately 145 ‘eco’ homes on the Oxley Woods development.  Of the original nine areas on the site, Taylor Wimpey has completed six, successfully using the RSHP eco design.  RSHP is currently working with Taylor Wimpey as it completes homes on the seventh area of the site.

‘Taylor Wimpey is now looking for a way of completing the project on the remaining two areas of the site, but opting for a more traditional form of design. This being the case, we believe that any new design should not try to replicate the design of the existing RSHP homes at Oxley Woods.  However, if Taylor Wimpey changes its mind, we would be happy to work together to complete the designs for those homes planned for the final part of the site.

‘We continue to look at ways in which the design and manufacturing process can be adapted and used in other places, and we have maintained a regular dialogue with a number of residents of Oxley Woods whose feedback will help in the future development of similar designs.’

Readers' comments (2)

  • Thanks for picking up this story. As residents we have no idea if more publicity may force Wimpey's hand a little and persuade them to try something else that isn't "off the peg", even if they insist of ditching RSH+P's designs. After all they do "remain as committed as ever to building sustainable homes and communities".

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  • A leopard, it seems, cannot change its spots.

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