Environment and community
The site is reasonably well located in relation to local facilities and there is much open space in the overall development.
A total of 85 homes are proposed for be: Newhall: 34 have been completed and the others are under construction. The tenure mix is 26 per cent affordable housing and 74 per cent market rate sale. The first completions include all the affordable housing, which means that the spread of affordable across the full development is limited. A greater pepper-potting of accommodation would have been physically possible but practical and timing issues determined the outcome.
The development already has a mix of accommodation size, from small flats to large houses. This mix will be enhanced as more homes are completed.
There are bus stops nearby on London Road serving Harlow and the nearest superstore, which is a 10-minute walk away. The nearest railway station is Harlow Mill. There is easy access to cycle routes.
There is a reasonable standard of environmental performance: the homes achieve Code for Sustainable Homes level 3. Solar panels are standard on the villas, courtyard houses and apartment blocks. The houses achieve a high standard of insulation and air-tightness. The affordable terraced houses also have 5.4 square metres of photovoltaic roof tiling.
All the houses are popular with the new residents.
This is a place with a unique character and adds to the rich mix of Newhall. Innovative house types include different types of terraced and courtyard houses
The character of the different house and apartment types owes much to an understanding of local materials and construction. In particular, the strong angular form reflects traditional Essex barn structures. The design is both distinctive and appropriate.
The building heights and layout contribute to a clear and coherent plan. The site is easy to navigate. The simple layout is also enhanced by an alternating rhythm set up by the distinctive forms of the houses which maintain a well defined edge facing the public spaces.
The terraced forms are continuous, but through the distinctive courtyard design, the ground floor continuity is relieved with roof terraces at first floor level and unusual roof profiles.
Streets, parking and pedestrianisation
The masterplan was the result of detailed negotiation with Essex County Council to give greater priority to pedestrians over vehicles. The masterplan pre-dates the Department for Transport’s Manual for Streets but reflects it guidance. It promotes the role of the shared surface street as a place and space for all.
Car parking solutions are many and varied but consistently handled. Villas and courtyard houses have parking to the front. Apartments have car parking to the side or rear, which is generally less successful. Parking supports and does not dominate the street, although the end-on parking to the smaller houses is less successful than the more generous open parking spaces to the courtyard and terraced houses.
The development is a residential neighbourhood without through traffic, so the streets are designed for an appropriately low level and speed of traffic. North–south streets are designed to accommodate greater vehicle numbers and the east–west routes are shorter, informal and more pedestrian friendly.
The masterplan, parcels and design coding require an understanding of the connections between different parts of the overall scheme. As construction of the development continues, the connections between its different phases will become more apparent.
Public spaces and streets are well overlooked by houses and apartments. The house types were designed to encourage home working and so provide day-long street surveillance. They have already proved successful in this.
Design and construction
Management and maintenance of public spaces is essential to the continuing quality of the project. Public spaces in this phase of the development are exclusively streets and some of the green aspects of streets in the masterplan have been dropped in favour of a greater sense of urbanity.
Effective management of public spaces will be important for the continuing attractiveness of the whole development. Evidence from schemes completed earlier is that there is a high standard of maintenance throughout.
be: Newhall has been designed by an architect with a strong and distinctive approach. Through her approach to the masterplan and code, Alison Brooks has evolved designs that have a very particular and distinctive quality using local materials and forms. They also meet the demands of modern living at relatively high density.
Interiors have been carefully planned: they are economic with space but without being cramped. There are good standards of daylighting and views. Overlooking has been avoided despite a very tight plan arrangement. In the two-bedroom courtyard houses and three bed-room villas, roof spaces would allow for the addition of an extra bedroom. All homes meet the Lifetime Homes standard.
The design uses a pre-fabricated timber frame system of construction which was promoted by the architect. This reduced material wastage and construction time on site and enabled consistent quality control.
Although too early to assess performance over time, the selection of a simple palette of tried and tested materials and construction techniques can be expected to prove successful.