23 May 2019

Gavin Miller speaks to Future Cities about masterplanning approach to the greenbelt

MICA Director Gavin Miller has spoken to Future Cities Forum about the practice’s approach to masterplanning six new villages in North Harlow, Hertfordshire. Gilston Park Estate creates 10,000 homes to the north of Harlow is part of the East of England Plan to provide new homes, jobs, investment and prosperity to Harlow and the surrounding areas of Essex and Hertfordshire. The illustrative masterplan, designed in collaboration with Grimshaw, delivers high-quality homes across a spectrum of tenures, sustainably planned to meet identified housing needs and support Harlow’s lasting regeneration.

Speaking about planning new-build developments on greenbelt land, Gavin says: “Our approach was, given the fact that it was on the green belt, to try and come up with what we thought was an appropriate and responsible approach for development on the greenbelt. And that really comes from respecting the land and trying to enhance and improve access to the land so that where we build, we also put back into the land.”

MICA’s scheme only proposes developing one-third of the available land, with Gavin explaining: “We essentially only build on about 30% of that land and the way we build we encourage frontage onto it and activities onto it. Because, traditionally, greenbelt has been about successful policies that have been implemented but a lot of the time it’s slightly defensive – you have a back fence onto some open land. The advantage of this site is the client, Places for People, own all of the land so we can front onto it, we can encourage access onto it, we can encourage healthy living and enjoyment of open space. The key also is that in perpetuity this will be a fixed final development so the remaining 70% of the land is enhanced, improved and given to the community.”

Describing the design approach to the masterplan, Gavin says: “We spent a lot of time analysing sprawl, particularly around Essex and East Hertfordshire, and we’ve tried to avoid that feeling of a cul-de-sac world where you lose all sense of orientation and it becomes very car-orientated. So we’ve thought about how we evolve the design of villages and the idea is that each one will have a characterful centre and a characterful edge to mimic natural urban development when something grows from the centre out and to use that as a driver to create character design so that you’re not in the endless same-ness.”

To read more about the Gilston Park Estate masterplan, click here.

To watch Gavin’s interview with Future Cities, click here.


We use Cookies on our website, by using micaarchitects.com you agree and accept our Privacy Policy.