Transformation into ‘Grove Village’ gives the estate 1,300 good quality homes, new community and shopping facilities and a radically improved quality of environment.
Design failings of the existing estate
Plymouth Grove, in south east Manchester, was built in the 1970s and consisted of 1,090 two-storey flats and houses. The original design was based on a planned urban layout known as Radburn housing. This approach deliberately keeps pedestrians and vehicles apart, confining cars to access roads, cul-de-sacs and parking areas and pedestrians to separate footpaths, often as part of an extensive network of green space.
The Radburn layout meant that cars were vulnerable as they were parked far from homes. Cul-de-sacs and poorly overlooked walkways and green spaces discouraged walking through the estate. The proportion of public to private space was high, but the density of housing low. These problems meant it was hard for any shops or services to survive within the estate.
The standard of housing for residents had deteriorated quickly since the estate was built. Homes needed modernisation and recladding. Gardens, rarely enclosed, were small and lacked a sense of privacy.
A regeneration strategy
The masterplan commissioned by Grove Village Consortium included physical interventions to balance selective demolition, refurbishment and new-build. It emphasised changing the pattern of movement and restructuring the relationship between public and private space.
The Consortium based its approach to the estate on the concept of a single ‘managed village’:
- a one-stop shop manages the housing, repairs and neighbourhood and provides an excellent community centre
- additional income generated through the PFI funded development process allows the maintenance of high quality public environment
- to help the estate remain a coherent whole, similar materials have been used for new buildings and refurbished properties
The new scheme introduces an east-west Green Route which links three neighbourhood parks and serves as a central spine through the estate. It is shared space for pedestrians, cyclists and cars with no kerb, a 10mph speed limit and a raised table entry for cars at junctions. All other residential streets adjoining the Green Route are traffic calmed.
The scheme addresses the several design challenges presented by the Radburn layout by:
- creating a traditional street layout through ‘reversing’ some houses (changing fronts to backs and vice-versa)
- adding windows to blank gable walls to increase natural surveillance of the street and parking areas
- giving two-storey blocks new windows, individual private entrances and an enclosed threshold
- converting maisonettes over separately let garages (which had long been unpopular with residents) into three storey houses.
The converted maisonettes, now with ground floor entrances and an additional bedroom or integrated garage, have proved to be particularly popular.