...An entirely new town!
Medway Council this month received a planning application from The Defence Infrastructure Organisation
, (c/o Land Securities and CB Richard Ellis), to turn the site outlined below into a new community:
At the centre of the 325-hectare site will be a new 35,000 square foot supermarket,
supplemented by a further 22,000 square feet of mixed-use retail. The offer is designed to support the occupants of some 5,000 new residential units in the new community who, presumably, will be instantly offered work in the 395,000 square feet of office space; and send their children to one of the FOUR newly-built schools.
So often we hear about town centres looking at redevelopment - it was a little novel to come across these plans; which seem to have eschewed the traditional option in favour of simply plonking a new urban centre on agricultural land. Judging by the photos on the enormous Design and Access
statement supplied, the site has been little more than an abandoned train station, used in part for occasional military procedures.
The twenty-year development schedule may well render my 'Coming soon' title a little wayward. the images on the right display where and when this new community is going to spring up. These, of course, are outlines. The developers admit themselves that the growth engine for Lodge Hill will be residential development - an element which itself is governed almost entirely by market factors. Site preparation for the first set of new-build homes may not get underway until 2013, meaning that even at the most optimistic estimate, we won't see a completed urban centre until 2033.
Nonetheless, I look forward to viewing the series of reserved matters applications which will supplement this site. Strewn within the planning documents are references to other successful market communities from which all concerned with this project could take inspiration.
, in Tunbridge Wells is used as an example of a retail hub within a market town supported ably by the residential community it serves. Also mentioned is Delft
in Holland, a municipality whose rustic 13-century design embraced the existing layout of the land on which it stood, allowing for easy orientation via straight, grid-pattern streets.
Design will be key in ensuring the scheme's success as a market town. Everything needs to be walkable, with little or no chance of sprawl occurring at the site edges; the layout of the town centre needs to encourage flexibility for building uses without running the risk of allowing overbearing architecture to encroach on the town's idiosyncrasies.
We will have to wait and see just how long it takes for the outline application to get the thumbs-up, but with Medway Council's own economic targets looming over them, it is likely that they will endeavour to get this project off the ground sooner rather than later.