A cross authority approach to delivering new communities with ambition

Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community
North Essex, UK

Client Colchester City Council, Tendring District Council, Essex County Council
Year 2021–2023
Size 715ha
Expertise Visions and Place Narratives, Strategic Planning, Masterplanning, Community and Stakeholder Engagement
Partners Gillespies

Like many places in  the UK, North Essex has experienced significant population, housing and employment growth in recent years, and this is forecast to continue. Simply continuing to expand the existing towns and villages is not the most suitable way to plan for growth in the long-term  – particularly when it comes to providing the infrastructure needed to support it.

A garden community for the 21st century

The creation of a new settlement – Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community – has the potential to sustainably accommodate the region’s growth, with the project setting out one of the most ambitious cross authority approaches to the delivery of infrastructure-led new communities in recent history.

Led by Tendring District Council, Colchester City Council and Essex County Council, the project demonstrates where, from the outset, strong public sector leadership and high levels of collaboration with the delivery partner – in this case, Latimer by Clarion Housing Group – can be pivotal in driving a long-term approach to investment and stewardship. This is an approach that has also simultaneously realised design quality, with Prior + Partners working closely alongside the client group to develop the initial vision, strategic design principles and charter, and leading the preparation of a Strategic Masterplan Framework and Design Guidance document that will shape a clear path forward for delivery well into the future.

Embracing scale

We are leading the consultant team, including landscape architects Gillespies, to create a place to live, work and play in a better way, embracing the very best in placemaking for the future. Comprehensively planned from the start, our proposals for Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community would allow for the delivery of around 7,500 new homes over the next 20 years, alongside new and diverse leisure and recreation facilities, education and health services, employment opportunities, and transport infrastructure.

Nurturing nature

The natural environment of the Garden Community has been designed to be its biggest asset, with a significant amount of the new neighbourhood to be publicly accessible open space, which is far greater than traditional developments. This new open space will take a number of forms including recreational areas, sports facilities, play areas and new nature reserves. These have been strategically designed to allow neighbours to spend time and interact together, providing a natural support system for both people and wildlife.

The plans include the opening-up of a new country park aligned with cherished parts of the existing landscape. Aware of our responsibilities as designers, we worked hard to establish a framework that will ensure new development will not undermine the unique qualities of the site today, with the existing woodlands, hedges and lanes being providing a locally distinct place identity from the outset.


Delivering for local need

Imaginatively designed homes and gardens will sit amongst cultural, recreational and shopping facilities. This accommodation will meet the housing needs of local people including a mix of dwelling sizes, tenures and types, provision for self and custom-built homes as well as for the aging population. A minimum of 30% of new housing in Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community is to be classed as affordable and will be phased through the development.

Builds, places and character
Sustainable infrastructure
Movement and connections
Builds, places and character
Sustainable infrastructure
Movement and connections

Sustainably connected

Walkability and vibrancy are a defining characteristic of the Garden Community. Structured around a dense network of traffic-free walk and cycle routes that link in with the wider strategic and local road network, a new rapid public transport system is also proposed and will be delivered early within the project’s life. Connecting the new development with Colchester and onward destinations, this transport system will also offer the opportunity to introduce zero-carbon and energy-positive technology to ensure climate resilience.

Engaging locally

The proposed ideas were held to a high degree of scrutiny by the councils and local stakeholders, and a large part of Prior + Partners’ work has been building the community’s understanding of the value of planning at this scale. This has seen us embark on a deep and pro-active approach to early stage engagement and consultation, with a Community Liaison Group established early on into the process. This has empowered local stakeholders who will be directly engaged and could inform long-term management and stewardship, fostering a shared sense of ownership and identity.

Focusing delivery

Our work has formed a core part of the evidence base informing the Regulation 18 Plan, which set out the draft policies, vision and proposed layout for Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community and subsequently the Regulation 19 Development Plan Document which was subject to consultation ahead of submission to the Secretary of State for examination.

A planning application process is now being advanced by Latimer to secure consent to build the project; working under the guidance of the Development Plan and underpinned by the strategic masterplan developed by our team.

Photographer Edward Bishop
Drone Photographer Tony Jackson

Next London, UK

Different perspectives and a shared goal

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