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Pollard Thomas Edwards wins planning for 500-home Chelmsford scheme

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[First look + project data] Pollard Thomas Edwards architects (PTEa) has bagged permission to build a huge, housing-led scheme on the former Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) campus in Chelmsford

The £60 million competition-winning proposals for the site, which became available for redevelopment after the ARU’s moved to new facilities in 2008, features more than 500 homes, a 3,915m² supermarket, 1,053m² of shops and 8,000m² of office and community facilities.

Sat next to the main bus and train stations, the scheme is backed by Genesis Housing Association and the first phase, which includes restoring the existing, historic buildings and the construction of more than 200 homes, is due to start in June (2012).

Tracy William, deputy director for development at Genesis: ‘Throughout our consultation on the scheme we have been mindful of the wishes of local residents and have incorporated their views into our plans wherever possible. We are very excited that planning has been granted for this scheme. It will now enable Genesis to transform Station Square, the gateway to Chelmsford town centre itself into a vibrant and thriving residential and commercial hub, a place where people will want to live work and play.’

The architect’s view

We won the commission through an invited competition in 2008. As part of our proposals we submitted the distinctive local tourist map which included our scheme as if already completed. The key to the design is to restore and elevate the existing heritage buildings and place them within a procession of new public spaces which re-instate some of the intimacy and charm of the old market town. A network of improved connections across the site for pedestrians and cyclists will ensure the new development is both a destination in itself and a natural extension to the existing town.

Located next to the main bus and train stations as the principal arrival point to the town centre, the site plays a key role in the borough’s plans to regenerate the ‘West End’. A new Station Square is proposed here providing a civic setting for the refurbished Grade II listed Anne Knight building, a former Quaker meeting house and a significant location in Chelmsford’s history of temperance. New buildings frame the South side of the square and form a dramatic curved gateway to the proposed urban quarter beyond.

The new buildings and landscape gradually transform from North to South responding to the different qualities of public space they surround. Balconies start as deep inset brick chamfers and gradually project from the building face to overlook the park in the south.

With a history of false starts on this site, our proposal, which has been developed in close collaboration with Genesis Housing Association and Chelmsford planning department, gained unanimous support from Councillors with the Leader of the Council, Roy Whitehead, noting this is a ‘landmark project’.


Project data

Architects:Pollard Thomas Edwards architects
Location: Chelmsford
Type Of Project: Mixed use/Urban Regeneration
Structural Engineers: WSP
Project Directors: Teresa Borsuk, Carl Vann
Project Architect: Justin Laskin
Design Team: Sarah Eastham, Matthew Barac, Elizabeth Dow, Alexis Butterfield, Frazer Gardiner, Peter Prescott, Stephen Morris, Peter Watkins, Alex Stevens, Rafael Tonoli, Joe Dickeson, Simon Whitley, Amna Kahn, Zofia Szajdzinska
Client: Genesis Housing Association
Funding: Combination of Private and HCA grant funding
Tender date: December 2011 - Ongoing
Start on site date: Spring 2012
Contract duration: TBC
Gross internal floor area: 507 residential units comprising approximately 37,000m², food-retail store of approximately 3,915m², Flexible retail/leisure uses of approximately 1,053m², flexible commercial office uses of approximately 7,988m²
Form of contract and/or procurement: Design Build
Total cost: approximately £60 million (TBC)       
M&E consultant: Whitecode Design Associates
Quantity surveyor: EC Harris
Planning supervisor: Bidwells
Landscape Architect: Area Landscape
Lighting consultant: N/A
Main contractor: TBC
Selected subcontractors and suppliers: TBC
Annual co2 emissions: TBC

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