Led by the UK’s leading social enterprise, Places for People, Gilston Park Estate lays the foundations for six new villages to the north of Harlow on the Hertfordshire and Essex border. The masterplan, led by international architecture practice Grimshaw, with urban design specialists MICA and landscape architects Grants Associates, is designed to support a sustainable, diverse, and connected community linked to new infrastructure and extensive facilities.
Drawing on successful strategies born out of the Garden City movement, the vision for Gilston Park embodies the values of equality, good health, quality of life, sense of communal identity and access to countryside. The landscape-centred design has wellbeing at its core and encompasses large areas of green open space, including country parks and community gardens - protecting and enhancing local habitats to promote biodiversity across the 1000 ha site. Set into heathland and bound by forested areas, the landscape also connects the six interlinking villages, providing easy access to nature, and converges around a landscaped heart.
Set to create over 1,500 permanent jobs for Hertfordshire, Gilston Park Estate is supported by almost £1bn investment in new infrastructure and social facilities from Places for People. The proposal includes 2,000 affordable homes, a new community centre, two secondary schools, up to six primary schools, healthcare and sport facilities, 29,200m² of commercial space and 25,100m² of retail and leisure space.
"We are delighted to see our designs receive outline planning permission. This large-scale strategic site allowed us to prepare a holistic approach embedding social, spatial and ecological thinking to provide a much-needed solution to today’s housing challenges in a resilient and sustainable way. It will deliver a place of choice and opportunity, a way of living that is connected by green infrastructure and characterised by its context, and an identity that we hope people want to invest in and be part of.”
Kirsten Lees, Partner at Grimshaw
Adrian Bohr, CEO of Places for People Developments comments: “We are delighted to reach this significant planning milestone, getting the go-ahead for our 20-year plan to build an inclusive and attractive new village community in Gilston. Our proposals for Gilston Park Estate clearly demonstrate what sets Places for People apart. We’re not just another volume house builder, we are committed to adding lasting social value to the communities we build to make them the very best for the people who will live, work and visit them. It is a responsibility we do not take lightly.”
The site forms part of the wider Harlow and Gilston Garden Town (HGGT), which has been earmarked by the government for the delivery of 23,000 new homes. Following the resolution to grant planning permission from East Herts District Council, Places for People will work in close collaboration with HGGT partners to finalise the section 106 agreement, to secure the infrastructure provision for the site.