Partnership in Placemaking
Following the closure of the British Aerospace Aircraft works and aerodrome in 1994, this extensive area fringing the A1(M) became the subject of a masterplan (2000) for a mixed use development including a new campus for the Hertfordshire University, extensive medium and high density housing and local centre, the Howe Dell Primary School (incorporating many sustainable design features as reviewed in the case studies) and an employment area.
This case study concentrates on Phase 4 of the development, an irregularly shaped site of 2.8ha designated for housing, sandwiched between the local centre to the east, a large area of landscaped car parking to the south, a Listed former hangar to the north, an area of ‘set aside’ for a park to the north west and the main spine road serving the whole development area to the west. Given the former use of the development area it is not surprising that the terrain is almost entirely flat.
The planning authority, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, disappointed with schemes coming forward for the site, commissioned an urban consultancy to assess the placemaking potential of the site and to submit an indicative layout which would act as the basis for negotiations with housing developers to improve the quality of submitted schemes.
The developer commissioned an urban designer and architects who readily entered into pre-application negotiations to commence on a scheme addressing the urban design objectives in the indicative scheme, which were recognised as being feasible and which the development team could accept.
A series of meetings ensued with the developers and their design team, the Council’s planners and their urban designer working on their behalf. Whilst details in the layout and form of development evolved through negotiation, the basic placemaking principles remained intact. At the time of writing a scheme based on these principles has been submitted for planning approval.
The main principles of the scheme can be seen in the site appraisal and design concept drawings illustrated below.