Masterplan by Churchman Landscape Architects plays key role in the development

The development has been laid out to foster a sense of community. Image: Architype
The development has been laid out to foster a sense of community. Image: Architype

Churchman’s rural masterplan for developer Archihaus has been submitted for planning in Herefordshire. The scheme is the UK’s largest Passivhaus housing scheme in a rural setting and constitutes the first stage in realising an ambitious vision to transform both the quality and the sustainability of developer housing in the UK.

Working in close partnership with architect Architype, Churchman has planned the scheme  to provide three key principles:

to rethink the design of the house, as a high quality and efficient Passivhaus ‘product’

a landscape approach to the site that creates a sense of community with a locally distinct rural character

to reconsider the process of house building, using pre-fabrication to achieve high standards of air-tightness and quality at a competitive cost.

Underlying these goals are a number of guiding design parameters and more detailed aims Coordination of these sometimes conflicting requirements was achieved through an iterative design team process:

• optimised Passivhaus orientation of houses (longest façade 15° either side of south),

• achieving the right scale of community ‘clusters’ set within larger ‘neighbourhoods’

• microclimate

• view corridors established from contextual studies

• generous provision of private and communal gardens

• access developed to strict Homezone guidelines

• ambition to provide 100% on-site storm water management using channels, swales and bio-retention basins to establish a dynamic and ecological rich environment.

The proposals provide a model of living streets, combining parking and servicing with play and growing gardens complemented by secluded private gardens. These are embedded within a context that sensitively references locally distinct rural typologies of winding lanes, native plum hedgerows, swales and wetlands and traditional apple orchards. A generous green community open space with natural play is provided along a green infrastructural ‘spine’ that is defined by a reinstated historic field boundary.

The generous provision of public space and affordability of the development was supported by the reduction, or even omission, of typical development costs associated with external works, primarily through innovative alternative drainage and road surfacing technology. These strategies were developed in unison with Herefordshire Council to enable adoption of public realm, and critically, the SUDS strategy.

Churchman joined Architype at community consultation workshops in Kingstone, and pupils at the local high and primary schools during the design development stage.  Many ideas that were suggested by local people have been incorporated – including a new cycle/foot path to create a safe connection between the north and south parts of the village, a new pedestrian crossing over the adjacent main road, and new village allotments.

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