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28 PROJECT REPORT: SOCIAL & AFFORDABLE HOUSING


“It helped that the


neighbourhood plan was developed to a level where it was going to support development outside the settlement boundary”


Paul Neep, Architype


Navigating planning


Being involved in the process early on, the architects were able to work with the project team closely right from the planning stages, benefitting the scheme greatly. Planning is rarely the simplest part of the development process however, and this can be especially true of greenfield sites. “It helped that the neighbourhood plan was developed to a certain level where it was going to support development outside the settlement boundary, based on the fact that it would be social housing,” explains Paul Neep.


“So actually having the plan developed to the extent it was, and having the support of the town council throughout, carried some weight, and gave us a much smoother ride than it would have been otherwise.” The architect adds however that the project team still had to explicitly justify the reasons why the development was appropriate on that site, and how the design of the scheme was appropriate for the location.


This was again achieved largely by the


project’s adherence to the neighbourhood development plan and its aspirations. For


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example, the practice specified local materials and styles, taking reference from architectural precepts within the town, while delivering high levels of sustainability, and providing the project with a sense of community and place. In addressing the concerns, adds Neep, “we actually had the opportunity to do something the planners were quite keen on seeing come forward anyway.”


Allocating land


Finding a site was of course an important part of the early process. The team were blessed in this respect – when the practice first got involved, the architect had the opportunity to review five sites across town. As part of the neighbourhood development process, there had been a call for sites, and various land owners had put their sites forwards. “We took a trip around the town and reviewed them all,” says Paul Neep, “alongside consultants looking at access and highways, and drainage as well, and did a bit of a process of reviewing the broad constraints, opportunities, and capacities of the sites.”


ADF SEPTEMBER 2019


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