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Shopwyke Lakes

Chichester, UK

Studio Engleback have been working closely with JTP to develop a masterplan for the former Shopwyke Lakes Gravel Pit site, which is previously developed land, located on the eastern entrance to Chichester south of the A27. The 31.6 hectare site has been extensively worked since the 1950s, and has there fore had a shifting landscape that have included lakes of most parts of the site at some time in its history. The LUC/CDC report The Future Growth of Chichester noted that this site presents a tabula rasa for creating a new landscape. Currently the western portion of the site accessed from the Chichester By-pass is used as a concrete crushing and recycling operation, and the remainder of the site has either been restored to some degree with massed tree planting, or left to dry out. There is around a 3-4 metres difference in levels over the site, the northern area is higher, as this former lake is being surcharged. The edges of the site are fairly well vegetated as this provided screening for the mining activities, and generally the site is not especially visible. Notwithstanding, Studio Engleback has carried out a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment for the proposed housing development, and the mitigation measures that have emerged from that study have been developed into the design.The design process began with a scoping exercise in the Autumn of 2010 taking the form of a work shop over three days, and the rough ideas from that process were discussed with officer at Chichester District Council and presented to the Planning Committee. A series of workshops were then held at the beginning of July 2011 with the general public which generated some interesting ideas, and raised a number of issues that have been addressed as the design has been finessed.        

 

A prime objective raised in these sessions was to create a more resilient form of development in step with the need to reduce energy use, and to retain the special characteristics of the lower coastal plain. We looked at a number of local villages in terms of footprint, density and population, as well as materials and relationship to each other. This led us to consider the Shopwyke Lakes development to be a combination of an edge of settlement development, but one that has all the hallmarks and attributes of a new village.Following on from the success of the Accessible Natural Greenspace Strategy (ANGSt) initiated by Natural England in the mid 1990s, development pressure on the Thames Valley Heaths in Hampshire Surrey and Berkshire led to a new form of natural open space provision called SANGS - Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space, in response to the perception in that area of intense use, particularly by dog walkers, that may disturb valued protected species. The same idea has been taken up in Chichester with regard to the Chichester Harbour SPA. Based on the projected population here, an area just shy of eight hectares has been suggested for Shopwyke Lakes, and this has to meet certain criteria, not least being a more attractive convenient place for people generally to walk, but especially for dog owners (as they tend to be regular users of the same route) than Chichester Harbour.