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Great Notley is a new 'garden village' on the edge of Braintree in Essex with 2,000 mixed-tenure dwellings. Comprising of three distinct hamlets it has been designed with a high degree of self-sustainment and a layout that enhances community safety.


The master plan of Great Notley was approved in 1992 and pioneered an innovative design approach to reduce the dominance of the car and to create an attractive and safe environment. The Garden Village includes a mix of tenures in order to create a varied and diverse community. It also incorporates extensive areas of public open space and a range of community and leisure facilities. Design Briefs were developed from the master plan to ensure a consistent and high quality approach to design. Safety was a key consideration and the layout of the Garden village reflects this in a number of ways: 

  • The layout has been designed around a main spine road through the settlement, with pedestrian and cycle routes alongside. This avoids the segregation of different users. 
  • The layout of routes throughout the neighbourhoods has been carefully planned to ensure that direct routes to services and open space are provided. This design concept enhances permeability, whilst limiting unnecessary routes, which could compromise safety. 
  • A 20 mph zone has been created throughout the entire residential area to reduce the dominance of the car.  
  • The neighbourhoods adjacent to the spine road are formed around squares and cul-de-sacs, which create a variety of small identifiable places where strangers can be easily identified. 
  • Dwellings front onto the street and open space to create active frontages and maximise natural surveillance.

Community involvement has been an important part of the design and development process at all stages. A variety of stakeholders have been involved and a Village Liaison Forum has enabled the community to comment on the development as it progressed. Community safety issues have been further addressed by the establishment of Neighbourhood Watch Schemes and the sponsorship of a parish policeman.

The success of this scheme is illustrated by recent research by the New Economics Foundation on the quality of life in Great Notley. Residents surveyed identified safety as an important aspect of life in the Garden Village. 

Great Notley 2

design benefits

  • Natural surveillance 
  • A clear movement framework 
  • Integration of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians 
  • Active community and stakeholder engagement

project team Countryside Properties

further information