Places which work for residents but also for neighbours. Places which afford opportunities for wildlife. Places which are logical and useful. Places which are beautiful. Places which reflect their location so that you know where you are.
Good towns and villages are easily navigable. There’s a good place for a shop. The pub often sits on a junction with space to the front. The Church is self evident. Houses and cottages sit comfortably defining interesting spaces. There is a logical hierarchy and it is fairly obvious which is the best route to take from one place to another. The materials feel right and, together with the architecture, reference the vernacular.
Street signage, lighting, and furniture are restrained adding quality rather than detracting. It’s a place where you would like to live. There is a value beyond the bricks and mortar that make houses. Homes feel more secure being overlooked by workspace during the day and vice versa overnight. Children should feel safe in the street yet be adventurous and curious given the hinterland.
Each building at Luzborough, Hoe Lane, and Whitenap has been, or will be, designed not so much to stand out but to contribute to making the place. Phases and streets may reveal a particular character but they will conform to the overall Masterplan which aims to secure the traditional Hampshire, specifically the Test Valley, vernacular.
There is no explanation as to why, despite all the mechanisation and the technical advances achieved since the Second World War, we have somehow lost the ability to build such places. Places that were originally made with not much more than a spade, bucket, hod, trowel, block and tackle, a wheelbarrow, and some scaffolding.
They might have been damp and occasionally hazardous in terms of fire when gas and electricity arrived. But we can take the best from contemporary practice to make new homes fit for the future but without having to be poorly and thoughtlessly designed thereby failing to make great places.
As a race we cherish the places we like. If the Ashfield Partnership has designed and built well then the basis for civic pride is established. But there is more to great places than simply the built environment. There is pride to be taken in living sustainably. There may be interest in how the development provides for wildlife or in the Food and Farming Strategy. Access to the hinterland is an asset as is how we make connections with adjacent neighbours at Romsey and North Baddesley.
To make things special there will be work to be done and decisions to be made. The Ashfield Partnership can set a template but how residents choose to take matters forward is important in terms of future governance and protection.
We also need extrovertly to think about how new development relates to existing settlement hosts. There is a good reason why new housing estates are not welcome as neighbours but we are giving thought to what it is that new development can do both to meet local needs and also to enhance settlements. For example at Hoe Lane how might the new scheme bring about positive change to Mountbatten Park?