As part of the Kent Design training programme a team from Design South East organised a two day study tour across the Bristol area. Called ‘Exemplary new neighbourhoods urban & rural’, the tour drew participants from across local authority, planning and design backgrounds to hear from leading professionals and visit inspirational new developments. Highlighting best practice the tour aimed to unpack ideas around how we can create sustainable, healthy and beneficial, shared community spaces. The tour began at the Architecture Centre, Bristol, and its Head of Programme, Pippa Goldfinger commented “‘In hosting the event we got to reflect on schemes in Bristol through the fresh eyes of delegates. The presentations from Bristol City Council officer Jon Severs and architects from Alec French and Stride Treglown gave a great picture of what is happening in and around Bristol both strategically and in terms of individual projects.”

At Wapping Wharf, a harbour regeneration scheme, delegates were able to tour completed phase one and see construction progress of phase two before visiting Paintworks. Now one of Bristol’s key creative hubs, Paintworks is a former Victorian factory reimagined as a network of pedestrianised streets, alleyways, public plazas and courtyards. The day ended at Hanham Hall, a multi award winning housing development providing 187 new homes, centred around the original, grade II* listed hall, now used to promote wellbeing and community interaction. Martin Whybrow from Kent County Council said, “The highlight for me was Hanham Hall, England’s first large-scale zero-carbon volume housing development, it shows what can be achieved, it should set the standard for all future developments.”

On day two the tour moved on to Steepleton Retirement Community in Tetbury and Tadpole Garden Village near Swindon; both sites in the Cotswolds area. At Steepleton, residential buildings are informed by local historic Cotswold farmsteads, with buildings clustered around a series of open courtyards. Cloistered walkways at ground and first floor levels provide generous space with seating areas for residents to meet, relax and interact.

Tadpole Garden Village (TGV) is based on 21st century garden village principles, with a focus on character, lifestyle and legacy. It is the only strategic site within the borough of Swindon currently delivering a 30 per cent mix of affordable housing, for rented and shared ownership accommodation. Sustainability has been at the heart of the design from the beginning, with all homes built to a high environmental standard.

This event is part of KENT DESIGN, a programme of events delivered for the public sector working in Kent and Medway. Design South East study tours provide delegates with an ideal ‘learning outside the classroom’ opportunity. Here they gain first-hand experience of the scale, feel and detailing of developments, while hearing from the individual design teams involved.