Design Challenge

and Requirements

The Foundation believes that there is an opportunity to evaluate the core values and principles outlined above and formulate a modern design approach fit for a 21st Century garden city. In order to develop this debate, the Foundation and its partner organisations, are pleased to launch an ideas competition, which will examine today’s garden city living and design.

To facilitate this competition the Foundation has a live case study, which is the first expansion of Letchworth Garden City in a generation. This site lies to the north of the existing town and is approximately 45 hectares in area. (It is included in the North Herts Local Plan 2011-2031, which has completed its Public Examination phase and is due to be adopted Spring 2019.)

The site is located to the north of an existing post WW2 housing development, known as the Grange Estate. The layout for this estate was designed by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, who was responsible for the Hemel Hempstead master plan, following the compulsory purchase of the land by the local authority.

The site is presently predominantly open arable farm land, owned by the Foundation, with a series of hedgerows which run through it and the Greenway (a 13.5 mile route which runs around the whole of the Letchworth Estate) to the south. Adjacent to the site to the south is an existing recreation ground owned by the local authority.

Aerial photograph showing location of Site LG1 to the North of the Grange Estate

The land slopes gently to the north and will be visible from a range of viewpoints. A topographical survey has been prepared and will be provided as part of the supporting information to registered competitors and is also shown below:

Topographical Survey

One of the key challenges to the development of this land is vehicular access and to avoid the impression of a ‘bolt on’ estate. Discussions are ongoing with the Highways Authority, but in principle and subject to further detailed assessment, two vehicular access points are proposed. To the north via Norton Road and via Western Way from the Grange Estate, with further pedestrian and cycling access through the existing recreation ground which will be retained.

Site LG01

Various background studies continue to be undertaken. Of significance to date is the ecological assessment. This confirms the importance of the retention of existing hedgerows and where possible to add to the existing provision. The Foundation is also committed to additional bio diverse planting and a further 2,000 trees across the site. The initial illustrative plan includes this.

The relevant policy in the Local Plan (Policy SP9) allocates the land (known as LG1 in the Plan) for 900 homes, 40% of which will be affordable. A detailed housing need survey will be taking place in Autumn 2018, which will be solely linked to Letchworth’s needs. However, from the larger North Herts and Stevenage study a need for 5400 affordable homes across North Hertfordshire is required. In Letchworth we understand that there is a need for all property types, but a particular requirement for accommodation for smaller 1 or 2 person households, as well as family homes. The Council policy requires the greater proportion (65%) of affordable homes to be socially rented, however we will seek to ensure that the provision responds to the survey results.

Affordable homes should be pepper potted and designed to be tenure blind.

In terms of the private housing, there is also a need across all types. Our research shows that there is a lack of smaller household accommodation (1 to 3 bedrooms) and accommodation for older people.

In addition to the new homes, there will be a 2 Form Entry Primary School on 2ha of land, a community facility (the details of which are presently not fully defined, but most likely a multi user hall) and 900 sq. m of retail space. There will be a self-build element and although the Council’s policy states 9 units, we believe that there is an opportunity to increase this level of provision, along with community land trust housing. An area on the illustrative uses plan marked HSG07 has been set aside for this purpose. There are presently 94 people on the Council’s self-build register seeking plots in Letchworth.

More information on the local plan can be found at:

On registration, competitors will be provided with an indicative uses plan showing the anticipated points of access to the development site, the adjoining residential estate and the area set aside for self-build and community housing. A topographic survey of the site will also be made available.

The Foundation is the sole owner of the land and will be working with a yet-to-be identified partner to bring forward the development of the land in line with a series of core values and principles:

  • The development to the North of Letchworth Garden City will be built consistent with Garden City principles with the aim to deliver a high-quality development of which the whole town can be truly proud.
  • The Heritage Foundation will retain control throughout the design and implementation of this development and ensure that any appointed joint development partner shares its values and vision for the town.
  • The new residential units will be efficient and sustainable and include a mix of tenures ensuring homes are available for local people of all backgrounds and needs.
  • The Foundation will actively involve the community in its planning so that they have the opportunity to engage both prior to the development of detailed plans, right through to forums as the development is being constructed.
  • The development will take into account local infrastructure needs and seek to ensure that it will bring benefit to the whole town.

Design Approach

The Foundation wants to reflect the best of garden city design, ensuring that there is the highest quality of place making and homes that meet modern sustainable living requirements. In particular, the Heritage Foundation would expect to see the following at the heart of the design composition:

  • A demonstration of an understanding of the original core values and principles applied by Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin, interpreted to meet modern requirements.
  • An overall sustainable approach to design that is respectful of the surrounding area and existing landscape attributes.
  • Strong place making principles demonstrating an effective use of space, which can be incorporated into other development schemes.
  • A co-ordinated landscape strategy with tree lined corridors, strong structural planting and homes with gardens, including front garden space and applying urban agriculture principles.
  • Walkable neighbourhoods with easy access to open space, local food growing, cycle and pedestrian routes, with positive alternatives to the private car.

In partnership with