How we did it... Cotswolds village wins recognition for design

Project: Design and building of luxury homes, feature buildings and sheltered accommodation.

The Russells: design in keeping with Cotswold style
The Russells: design in keeping with Cotswold style

Background: A site in the Cotswold village of Broadway formerly used by a furniture manufacturer and including grade II listed buildings became available for development.

Who Is Behind It? Chase Homes, Evesham and Pershore Housing Association and architects Lapworth Partnership.

Project aims: To provide new homes close to the village centre in keeping with the design of the nearby high street and offering good pedestrian access to existing shops.

Skills: Involved Heritage design, planning, project management, consultation.

Planners and designers are not accustomed to being called heroes, but the professionals working on a Cotswold village development are being heralded in exactly that way.

Building for Life awards chairman Wayne Hemingway claims: "The people who have made this development happen are heroes. Good schemes need leadership and care. This has those in spades."

He was talking after the announcement that The Russells in Broadway, Worcestershire, has been given a gold standard for its outstanding design. The Chase Homes development was one of only three schemes in the top category of the government-backed awards programme.

The Russells consists of 56 luxury homes, 23 sheltered homes and other feature buildings, designed to blend in with the picturesque surroundings of the Cotswolds. There are town houses, apartments and two cottages, all built at various heights.

Broadway now has its own supermarket in The Russells. The development also includes a museum commemorating the life of furniture designer Sir Gordon Russell, a hotel, parish council and charity offices, a restaurant, an antiques gallery and a tourist information office.

These buildings are located at the front of the development to allow easy access from the main street. Likewise, a sheltered housing scheme known as The Court is close to the shops and high street, ensuring that elderly residents only have a short walk to all the amenities.

The site was formerly owned by the Gordon Russell Furniture Company. When it moved away in 2001, the 1.8ha plot was characterised by derelict factories and grade II listed buildings. Chase Homes design and planning director Andy Plant explains that the company was given a brief by Wychavon District Council. However, the actual development was different, even though it was in keeping with the spirit of the village's architecture.

The consultation process lasted around two years and Plant admits that there were times when he wondered whether the development would ever get going. But once the time came to start building, Chase Homes had a clear idea of what it wanted to build.

"We wanted to introduce another angle to the village," says Plant. "The village was quite linear. There was the high street and not much else." Designers worked on the burgage plot design often found in the Cotswolds, where strips of land run at right angles to the main street.

The original plans did not include a sheltered housing element, but Evesham and Pershore Housing Association approached Chase Homes. In spite of fears that the price would be too high for it to invest in the scheme, it acquired a large building that it could then convert. Each of the sheltered homes is designed to be affordable, providing elderly people with a central place in which to live at a reasonable cost.

Plant is pleased the design elements are working well. Attractions such as the museum and antiques gallery help to draw people into the square area forming one of the main features of the development. Any type of building in the Cotswolds can be tricky because it is an area of such rich heritage. Developers need to be sensitive to the surroundings. Yet it is clear that Chase Homes has done just that with The Russells.

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