The Gilston Area Vision embodies a set of crucial values: equality, good health, quality of life, sense of communal identity and access to countryside. These draw upon a wealth of successful strategies born out of the Garden City movement, of which the 1950’s design of neighbouring Harlow is based upon.
Grimshaw is master planner and lead consultant for this new development of circa 8500 homes. The site is around 1000 ha and includes extensive areas of new landscaping to support the development. Grimshaw is working alongside urban design specialists MICA Architects and landscape architects Grants Associates, for “Places for People”, a not-for-dividend organisation committed to long-term patronage of creating successful places where people want to live and work. The brief and housing mix for the site is market-led, helping to create a master plan that is inherently viable and deliverable.
The plan comprises six interlinking villages set into heathland and bound by forested areas, which together converge around a landscaped heart. Villages will sit within and reflect the topography of their surroundings. Avoiding monotony, each village is distinct in character; materials and themes used will embody this reflection of natural surroundings and the individuality of the typical English village.
At the perimeter of each village, green fingers interlace residential areas with connective pathways of verdant parkland. A comprehensive strategy of enhancing rural quality across the plan will bind all new and existing communities together. Growing more compact towards the centre, the six villages will thrive on access to central community meeting points and provisions for day-to-day public services – excellent schools, shops and amenities will be found at the core of each.
Convenience for pedestrians will define the identity of civic areas. Designing for long-term resilience will see a range of housing typologies which will suit a varied population – supporting people of all ages, considering differing support needs and including genuinely affordable homes. Gilston Park will promote healthy living by minimising car dependency, which in turn encourages community participation and active mobility.
“They have detailed a masterplan with great innovation, efficiency and intelligence.”
Mary Parsons – Former Group Director, Placemaking & Regeneration, Places for People
North Harlow, East Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
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