Southborough, Tunbridge Wells
Our brief was to create a harmonious residential development set into a matured landscape setting adjacent to the Grade II listed Holden House.
Our design ethos for the Holden Meadow Project has been to create a meaningful and sensitive addition to the surrounding residential neighbourhood and to compliment and augment the matured landscape setting. The scheme has been divided up into three development zones, East Drive, Tanyards and The Orchard. Thus the built form creates well defined “edges” to roads, the disposition of which being generated by the stands of existing major trees. To this end the development reflects best practice in “secure by design” principles, with well overlooked and naturally policed spaces and protected back gardens. The wider benefit of this approach is that a significant length of Tanyards Lane can be overlooked and in turn remove some of the “fear of crime” associated with long allies. In some areas the dwellings work around courtyards. To keep the spaces at an intimate scale and reminiscent of local precedent, single and controlled aspect units have been introduced as appropriate.
The Client identified key aspects which the scheme needed to address:
- The development needed to make best use of the matured landscape and in so doing the housing should feel naturally connected and belonging to its surroundings
- Large areas of the original setting would need to be preserved which meant the plots identified for development would need to be efficiently used (ie: achieve a high density in specific areas)
- The mix of housing would be varied in size but smaller units were noted as being particularly important for the housing stock contribution on the Southborough area
- Keyworker housing needed to be well integrated into the scheme as a whole and highly functional and appropriate to the end users
- The fine landscaped setting of Holden House needed to be maintained, and where appropriate to be improved and intensified with native ecological diversity
The road layout has been sized appropriate to the scale of the served development. The design speed below 20 mph and the scheme has employed devices such as home zones, horizontal speed restraints and careful changes in paving. Cars will be confined to parking courts, private garages or clusters of “parking barns”, reminiscent of stable yards. Parking courts and parking barns are used where they are overlooked by frontages.
Unit types were selected to provide an organic feel to the layout. Many units have a shallow section of around five to six metres which closely matches traditional Wealden dwelling formats. The houses predominantly use a 50º roof pitch, often with dormers. In some cases another local technique of using a tile hung mansard has been incorporated to minimise ridge height and add visual variety to the ensemble. A small number of units include a garage.
Balancing the land allocation of private gardens versus public open space was carefully considered. The result is that the Meadow has been maximised for the enjoyment of the entire neighbourhood and an ecological corridor of undulating width has been proposed for the western flank of Tanyards Lane. This is part of the wider landscape strategy to extend the Southborough Common habitat into the development. All the houses and ground floor flats include private gardens for personal use, whilst upper floor flats will have balconies or balustraded French windows and use of the nearby open spaces.