Reading housing scheme gets permission

A proposal to build 765 new homes on a retail park next to the River Kennet in Reading which was design reviewed by DSE’s Berkshire Panel has been given planning permission. The scheme is designed by PRP for developer London & Quadrant (L&Q).

The Kenavon Drive project will replace existing Toys ‘R’ Us and Homebase stores built after a Victorian factory complex, once home to the Huntley & Palmers biscuit factory, was flattened in 1978.

A mix of flats, ground-floor duplexes and townhouses, the development will include 157 affordable homes. It also features two new public squares and a linear park, as well as a restaurant, shops and employment space. The scheme came to Design Review in October 2016 and among the recommendations taken on board was the replacement of a 19-storey tower block, acting as a ‘marker’ for the development for people coming along the main road from Reading station, with a more modest 11-storey building.

According to PRP, the design will be constructed mainly from brick and includes ’a dynamic arrangement of saw-tooth roofs’ referencing the industrial buildings that once stood on the site. The use of historically inspired abstracted forms and techniques will create a contemporary architectural language that reflects the site’s manufacturing past as well as the character of neighbouring listed buildings in the area.

PRP’s landscape team has proposed a series of integrated streets and spaces for the scheme, that include a revitalised riverside promenade leading to a major new riverside square overlooking the River Kennet. The square features terraced seating, with new trees, lawns and fountains. Cafés and a restaurant will line the square, offering al fresco dining in a riverfront setting.

PRP director Craig Sheach told the Architects Journal: ’We were inspired by Reading’s history, the site and L&Q’s aspirations for the project and have developed a design which we believe is deeply rooted in its place, drawing inspiration from the former site’s industrial character.

‘When delivered, the scheme will enhance the eastern quarter of Reading and provide residents and locals with a well-connected, walkable neighbourhood and a place to enjoy a leisurely moment by the water – something that doesn’t happen currently at this part of the river.’

Craig Luttman, regional managing director (counties) at L&Q, added: ‘We aren’t just building homes; we are investing heavily in local infrastructure and creating a new destination with ample community facilities, employment opportunities and an ecologically enhanced riverside walk to improve biodiversity.”

The site falls within Reading Council’s Eastern Opportunity Area of the town’s Central Area Action Plan, which guides development through to 2026.  The scheme is due to start at the end of this year (2018).

Black Country Panel appointed

The Black Country LEP, supported by DSE, has appointed its Panel to assess and advise on housing schemes for the Black Country Garden City

The Black Country Garden City is an ambitious initiative to increase the quantity and raise the quality of new housing in the Black Country. Promoted by the Black Country LEP and supported by the four local authorities of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton as well as housebuilders in the private and social sectors, it sees the Black Country as a new type of 21st century garden city, based on the transformation of an existing urban area, rather than a new settlement in the countryside. The idea for Black Country Garden City came from DSE’s Head of Design Advice, David Tittle when he was working for MADE in Birmingham. He gathered together a group of professionals who through a series of open studios, worked up the concept and submitted it for the Wolfson Prize.

As part of the initiative the Black Country LEP is developing an accreditation system for new housing developments. It wants to designate the best new housing schemes in the area as Black Country Garden City Developments.  Accreditation will get new developments noticed, by the media and the public. It can be used in their marketing. It will provoke discussion and raise aspirations.

Accreditation will be carried out by a panel of experts, assessing schemes against 10 Black Country Garden City Principles. This is not a design review panel, initially its only role is assessment, but the role of the panel may evolve and panel members may be asked to provide advice and support to the Garden City initiative in other ways.

The members of the new panel are:

Alan Bain

Charlie Baker

Daniel Roberts

Elizabeth Griffiths

Hannah Lewis

Joe Holyoak

John Davies

Jon Akers Coyle

Katie Kershaw

Margaret Baddeley

Peter Shirley

Sarah Robinson

Sian Griffiths

Simon Atkinson

Stefan Kruczkowski

If you are developing or designing housing in the Black Country and want to engage with the panel please contact David Tittle by email or call 01634 401166

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