Looking Back at 2020


2020 was an exciting year for all of us, with a varied selection of interesting projects on the go and lots of new ways of working together to learn! Here we summarise a selection of the projects that we submitted as planning applications in 2020, be it in outline or in detail. The smaller ones are just as important to us as the larger strategic thinking ones that we love to get involved with. Check out the way we think about these projects – the importance of the context and our inspiration behind each design.

Cranfield – Outline Application for up to 180 dwellings

On behalf of Richborough Estates, we designed a scheme for up to 180 dwellings in Cranfield, Bedfordshire. With a healthy lifestyle and access to nature in mind, our low carbon, landscape-led masterplan aimed to provide a strong and positive legacy for the village and involved working closely with noise specialists to ensure the design of homes positively responded to the proximity of the adjoining airfield.

We proposed to deliver a range of house types and sizes, including starter homes, family homes, bungalows and affordable homes, as well as large areas of open space with opportunities for equipped children’s play, natural play trails, a community garden, wildflower meadows and informal recreational routes benefitting new and existing residents. The integration of high-quality landscaping sensitive to the existing landscape character will ensure a pleasant environment for all residents and provide ecological enhancements.

This vibrant and sustainable extension to Cranfield will provide an opportunity for much needed new housing for the village, enhance the existing settlement edge and promote connections to the wider Public Right of Way network and countryside beyond.

Calne – Outline Application for up to 32 dwellings

On behalf of our client Rainier Developments, we designed a scheme of up to 32 new family homes in Calne, Wiltshire. The development will provide an opportunity for much needed new housing in the town, enhancing the existing settlement edge and creating a new gateway to the town on arrival from the west.

As with all of our concepts, our landscape-led masterplan will provide the development with ecological enhancements, respecting the existing green infrastructure and including the provision of new open spaces and a children’s play area. The proposal aimed to deliver a range of house types and sizes, including bungalows and affordable homes, to meet local needs. Through liasing with the Council and engaging local residents in the design process, we were able evolve our design and reflect local views.

Wymeswold – Outline Application for up to 65 dwellings

Wymeswold was one of two outline planning applications we prepared in Leicestershire for our client Rainier Developments. The proposed new development is a high quality, locally distinguishable and landscape-led masterplan for up to 65 new homes.

At edge, we like to understand a place intimately so that we can design and create new places that respond to the existing character and unique history. Wymeswold has a bowl-like character, with the existing settlement largely not extending beyond the 85m contour. Our final masterplan ensured that development was retained below that contour, respecting the character of historic growth and views in and out of the village.

We are firm believers in proposals that are robust and deliverable and as such use this as a strong basis to get our creative juices flowing, safe in the knowledge that we are responding to key influencing considerations. It’s also important that our site proposals form a logical extension to the settlement, grounded in our understanding of the place and the technical constraints. At Wymeswold, we were inspired by the many existing positive qualities of the village, with the masterplan concept proposing to enhance the landscape character, protecting its relationship with the adjoining Conservation Area and recognising the historic development pattern.

We want to design places where people will wish to live and be proud to call home! Homes in Wymeswold will reflect the character and aesthetic quality of the wider Wymeswold area as well as mirroring design features, whilst delivering house designs that meet minimum space standards and reflect modern ways of living. Homes need to be designed with longevity in mind, allowing them to be flexible and adaptable in order to encourage residents to stay for longer depending on changing life circumstances. People and a sense of community are what make a place extra special!

Shepshed – Outline Application for up to 50 dwellings

Shepshed was the second of our outline planning applications in Leicestershire for Rainier Developments, and is a logical and sustainable development proposal for up to 50 new homes.

Based on the various constraints around the town, the site to the south of Shepshed was the next logical area for development. Our analysis helped to demonstrate that flood risk to the north-east and the M1 motorway to the west were major constraints to development. The existing committed developments and proposed allocations maximise all unconstrained sites and as a result the Council recognised and identified that growth to the south was required to meet the needs of Shepshed.

Our masterplan concept proposed to enhance the landscape character, deliver a soft landscaped interface at the settlement edge and also provide an improved, welcoming arrival experience when approached from the south, transitioning to the wider countryside. Landscape-led design and the aspiration for high-quality landscaping throughout all our proposals is at the heart of what we believe at edge. Landscaping plays a crucial role in creating pleasant environments for new communities to thrive, as well as protecting and enhancing existing habitats. Key to our proposals in Shepshed was the creation of linked green corridors incorporating native planting, connecting habitats as well as helping to filter views of the development from higher ground through the layering of landscaping. Having an understanding for the existing landscape character of the local area is fundamental.

Grendon Underwood – Outline Application for up to 5 dwellings

In the historic linear village of Grendon Underwood, located to the west of Bicester, we designed a bespoke development of 5 family homes, again with the aim of enhancing and complementing the existing settlement. Our development in Grendon Underwood is located to the western edge and adjacent to the conservation area, so we have provided the proposed dwellings with generous gardens, taking advantage of the existing foliage to filter views between the proposed development and the listed building located nearby.

Our proposed concept is based on promoting wider connections, retaining existing green spaces and ensuring our design sits well within the wider context. We strive to create designs that really enrich places, leaving them greener and more sustainable for the future. For Grendon Underwood, we made sure to implement a series of biodiversity measures, including a habitat creation area, a landscaped attenuation basin, areas of scrub planting, thickened existing hedges, and large private gardens. All these measures seamlessly merge into the development, creating a real green legacy!

The local history is always one of the first things we take into consideration when putting together a proposal and we take the time to find out what is special about a settlement and if there are any clues as to the local vernacular or patterns of development. In Grendon Underwood, one of the important historical buildings is Grendon Hall, constructed in 1872 as a family home before becoming the first open prison in the United Kingdom in 1953. We made sure that our final masterplan respected this local character, both in terms of the local community and landscaping. We also introduced biodiversity features helping us to promote good neighbourhood placemaking while generating health benefits for both wildlife and the residents. Integration of the existing Public Right of Way ensured maximum accessibility between the open countryside, the new green spaces, and surrounding facilities and services.

Egerton – Full Application for 15 dwellings

For our client Jarvis Homes, we designed a bespoke development of 15 family homes in the beautiful village of Egerton in Kent. Our planning application took into consideration the wider context of the settlement, as the development is located to the south east of Egerton and close to an ancient barrow. As a result, we chose to keep as much of the landscape as open as possible – instead of proposing development on the entire parcel of land.

As with all of our planning applications, researching the local history was our first port of call and in Egerton, the key historical features were actually the views to the church. We ensured our development proposal framed these views and the proposed new landscaping integrated the new homes with the existing landscape. We believe it’s also important to take inspiration from the surroundings and to understand the context of a place, so for Egerton we studied the highweald AONB colour palette. Jarvis Homes only build their homes with beautiful natural products and materials, which results in well-built developments of high quality, sustainable houses.

In 2020, through the various proposals detailed above, we submitted designs and supporting planning documentation for 347 dwellings. As well as planning applications, we like to keep ourselves busy with longer term site promotions across the UK, including a number of strategic sites. In 2020 proposed in excess of 24,000 new across the Midlands and south east of England! We love creating the opportunity of new homes for families, young professionals and local communities. Thank you to all of the teams involved on each of these fantastic projects – and fingers crossed for successful planning applications!

Written by team edge