The proposed development sat adjacent to an area of deprivation, with few amenities and quality of place. The client advocated ‘pepper-potting’ improvements within the neighbouring housing, to limit the potential for a disparity between adjacent areas. He also proposed placing communal areas under the management of a community organisation, to encourage residents to look after their own ‘public realm’.
The team produced housing layouts linked to their own communal open space. It also established the potential to remove an existing drainage ditch, thus providing a finger of redevelopment land allowing for a connection to the existing community. The slogan ‘From Fenland Drain to Urban Grain’ captured the idea, and its significance lay in the scope it offered to further reduce the risk of a spirit of ’them and us’ undermining social cohesion.
The provision of a replacement school and other amenities along the strip would also contribute to this. Of prime importance to the character and safety of the new housing, however, was the proposal – negotiated with Norfolk County Highways – to introduce a 10mph Home Zone throughout.
The masterplan captured the intrinsic landscape potential of a derelict industrial hinterland for conversion to an attractive residential area, benefitting from riverside views, and proximity to the town centre.
"I think that…landscape, quality of design, quality of materials and quality of location all combine to create a successful development. The key is understanding the mix of elements required in a particular location to maximise its potential."