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Wednesday23 July 2014

The government’s favourite housing developments

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From Poundbury to Newhall, the planning minister picks the country’s top schemes

The planning minister Nick Boles has outlined his top five favourite housing developments that he has visited in the UK.

“There’s traditional, modern, quirky, hippy, pastiche and innovative, for me all of these tick the box of good design,” he says.

Do you agree with him?

1. Orchard Village, Rainham

Orchard Village, Rainham

PRP Architects’ £80 million renovation of the former Mardyke estate caught the eye of Boles on a recent visit.

“It was uplifting, fine, bold and human,” he said. “The estate was one of the least popular in in the borough, but now there’s great demand for it.”

2. The Wintles, Bishops Castle, Shropshire

The Wintles, Bishops Castle, Shropshire

No architects were involved in this eco-development, the brainchild of entrepreneur Bob Tomlinson and his firm the Living Village Trust.

“Bob Tomlinson who isn’t an architect, designed the Wintles. It’s interesting that we can’t find any architects that can design similar patterns or houses and we are in the process of trying to train some to carry out more projects. One architect has told us that he is having to forget everything he learned in the seven year training to be able to design in this way,” says Carole Salmon of the Living Village Trust.

“Like Orchard Village it works as a place, not just as buildings,” says Boles.

3. Newhall, Harlow

Newhall Be, Harlow, Essex by Alison Brooks Architects

Source: Paul Riddle

Alison Brooks is the latest architect to add her designs to the ever evolving Newhall in Harlow, Essex.

The development, which boasts some 550 homes so far, sits alongside the post-war built Harlow New Town.“It’s fantastic,” says Boles. “There’s a huge amount of green space and a variety of housing styles.”

4. Poundbury, Dorset

Every architect in the country knows about Poundbury, it hardly needs an introduction.

Boles says: “It’s not a place everyone wants to live, but then you don’t have to live there. The point is the people that do love it and the people that built it are making a tonne of money – that to me is good design.”

5. King’s Cross, London

King's Cross dRMM

dRMM’s King’s Cross development

Maccreanor Lavington, PRP Architects, Glenn Howells, dRMM and Stanton Williams are among the practices designing housing at Argent’s mega-development at King’s Cross.

“The housing at King’s Cross is redolent of those magnificent blocks in Chicago,” says Boles. “The arrangement of housing [tenures] is an example for everyone.”

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Readers' comments (7)

  • "the people that built it are making a tonne of money - that for me is good design". Hmmmmmmm. That may explain some of the rest of the choices here.

    BTW why is Poundbury in the photos pretending that it's in Scotland?

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  • Great to see that there is no one size fits all approach from the minister. I wonder what the different communities in Kings Cross think about the new high density intruders? Newhall is a special case of enlightened landowner and consistent masterplanning, picking out Alison Brooks excellent scheme is only a small part of the story. Poundbury is of course far more than a housing development. Wintles though great is an example of what can be done in spite of all the barriers. Mardyke estate is what should be happening in our towns and cities. I believe Nick Boles is in Cambridge today looking at Clay Farm and other schemes. Cambridge is of course a bubble and they are doing excellent work in a very competitive market. Long term planning, working collaboratively across authority boundaries with excellent officers advising far sighted politicians in a thriving place works. Applying those lessons in more challenging locations is needed urgently.

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  • "No architects were involved in this eco-development".... Uh... wasn't Pat Borer ARCHITECT heavily involved in the design of this development?

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  • "One architect has told us that he is having to forget everything he learned in the seven year training to be able to design in this way"

    Can't have been a very good training, then, if (s)he can't approach design flexibly.

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  • Hi Zeroc, we are indebted to Pat Borer for designing Bells Court for the Living Village Trust in 1998 and Pat and David Lee did some early work at the Wintles but this work wasn't used for the planning applications or working drawings. Bob Tomlinson, The Living Village Trust.

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  • Im sorry, but that Alison Brookes scheme is sooooooo depressing. Dark, lifeless and sterile.

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  • @ Cassie : Poundbury looks the way it does because it's "pisstiche" : a poor copy of Scottish Vernacular via CRM et al.

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