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Dunster's replacement Siddell Gibson forced to revise Ashford Zed scheme

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Siddell Gibson, working for developer Zed Homes, has been forced to radically redesign a proposal for an 'energy-efficient' housing scheme in Ashford.

The practice replaced Bill Dunster Architects (BDA) on the project two years ago after the developer, which has no formal commercial links to the eco-architect, decided to make the designs more mainstream.

Siddell Gibson's original plans, which were submitted as a planning application earlier this year, included a 22-storey tower.

But this has now been dropped in favour of a series of finger buildings ( pictured) that will come in at 11 storeys.

Following public consultation it became apparent that the development faced heavy local opposition for being 'too tall and too dense'.

It has also emerged that the scheme will not be carbon neutral - like the Stirling-shortlisted BedZed - but will instead be 'as near as possible'.

If the new project goes ahead it will include 1,002 residential units, 8,220m 2of mixed-use community and commercial units and other social facilities.

However, perhaps most amazingly for a supposedly eco-scheme, it also includes a 500-space public car park and 700 car parking spaces for the residential units.

Ameeta Sharma, who heads up marketing for Zed Homes, said the firm was now confident the project would win the go-ahead following the recent revisions to the planning application.

'We have engaged with all the interest groups in a way few have before,' she said.

'The design has now evolved and should be supported by everyone because we have spoken to them all'.

But Chris Wilford, a project architect at BDA, was less optimistic. 'Its very difficult to move forward with projects in Ashford,' he said.

'We stopped working on the project when Zed Homes decided to go more mainstream with the project. As I understand it, they have only recently reintroduced the energy-efficient measures because the council demanded it,' Wilford added.

by Ed Dorrell

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