CABE used Watercolour as a case study in 2011 noting that the ‘Exceptionally strong landscaping sets this scheme apart. It creates a series of attractive public spaces and gives the development of 523 homes a distinctive character.’The Studio worked with John Thompson and Partners, DLA and Cameron Taylor Bedford between 2003-5 to create a scheme informed by the ecology and landscape signatures of the valley floor which lies in the greensand belt of the Weald. The site includes 7.5 acres of public open space with a further 25 acres including two lagoons given over to the Surrey Wildlife Trust to be managed as a nature reserve. During the planning stages the lagoon restoration and restoration of a brook that had been culverted under the sand washing site were important in gaining the planning permission, and we presented the work to the River Restoration Centre Conference in Edinburgh in 2006. This included the reinstatement of a brook, currently culverted under the industrial buildings, the restoration of a lagoon and the creation of a major reedbed in-line with local habitat action plans.
The urban proposals were relatively dense, but designed as discrete character zones that complement each other and the adjacent restored landscapes of metropolitan greenbelt. The first area to be completed was the housing fronting a wetland landscape of reeds and rushes. The idea that there would be water at every turn was central to the overall character of the scheme and in addition to and open and a reedy lagoon, there is a forma canal in the heart of the project and a ‘village’ stream that flows into it. The Scheme has won a number of awards including: National House Building Council (2010), Building for Life Silver (2010), What House Awards (2009) Best Brownfield Development, Evening Standard Awards (2008), What House Awards (2007) Best Brownfield Development (Gold), featured in Landscape Institue's 'Profitable Places - Why housebuilders invest in landscape' publication (2014).
Redhill, Surrey, UK