Monday, 17 December 2018

Planning Major Town Extensions

A Monday morning on site in December is hardly something to set the heart racing, but I had a very interesting time.

Taylor Wimpey and William Davis were presenting their emerging 1500 house Wellington Place scheme at Market Harborough to the Council.

What was interesting was that such a broad range of people were giving their take on their role in the development of a major site.

Photo taken from the safety of compound

Myself and Adrian MacInnes (WD) described the planning and development context. The initial concept was a thought in 1999, but it has taken until 2017 for the first houses to be occupied at the sustainable urban extension. While the planning stage was tortuous it had advantages in that a proper context was set; residential design issues were addressed; and as a consequence the reserved matter applications so far have been relatively painless. It has to be recognised that this lead time from land acquisition to first completions of 18 years is not exceptional for schemes of this scale.

 Simon from Breheny’s described all their initial infrastructure work from roads and bridges to sewers and sustainable drainage areas. The house builders praised the separation of this specialism, which meant that the infrastructure experts could get on and deliver what they do best, while William Davis and Taylor Wimpey could concentrate on delivering houses.

In responding Cllr. King for Harborough drew attention to the multiplicity of roles within the Council that would impinge on the scheme, which, in years to come, will be an integral part of Market Harborough.

Finally, the local Vicar and Church of England Community Worker described where they could get involved, offering soft community development skills, which is more their province than the house builders.

The session really was a master class in the need for an incredibly diverse range of skills to work together. Only if this is achieved will a major new suburb to Market Harborough emerge as a desirable place to live. The event also reminded us that any scheme of this scale from initial concept to the completion of the last houses could take up to 30 years. You have to be in it for the long haul.