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Dunton Hills Garden Village
Brentwood, Essex, UK

Creating a shared vision for a new 21st century Garden Village through collaborative design

This Government backed Garden Village is a landscape-led proposal, protecting key ecological and historic features and creating an attractive environment that promotes active lifestyles, community interaction and opportunities to immerse yourself in nature. The new village will provide up to 4,000 homes, flexible employment space, community facilities and multifunctional open space.

The vision for Dunton Hills Garden Village stems from the site’s unique constraints and opportunities. The site is broken up by ancient woodland, a stream and a prominent ridgeline whilst an historic farmstead sits at its heart. The natural features offer an opportunity to create a framework of green and blue corridors, which seamlessly weave the character of the surrounding Essex countryside into the heart of Dunton Hills Garden Village.

The site’s green network will preserve long-distance views over the Essex Fanns landscape and out towards London while also framing key local views of neighbouring churches. These open spaces will enhance the site’s rich ecology and provide places for the whole community to enjoy.

Our masterplan is sympathetic to the historic Grade II listed farmstead, which is located at the centre of the site, and maintains its current sense of openness through the careful positioning of the village green and market square. These will also anchor the three new neighbourhoods within the Garden Village: Dunton Waters, Dunton Fanns and Dunton Woods. The design of each of the neighbourhoods responds to their distinctive landscape setting and each will contain a range of community, education and retail facilities creating a truly walkable village. Wider connectivity is further enhanced through a mobility corridor linking the site to the nearby station at West Horndon, a central mobility hub and a network of new footpaths and cycle routes.

As part of our work on this project, we explored trends in the way that we are likely to live, work and play in the future. A scheme of such size is likely to take 15-20 years to build and so it is important that what we design now is flexible and plans for changing lifestyle patterns which have occurred in recent years and been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our vision for Dunton Hills Village has been shaped in large part by engagement with the local community. .We believe that a rigorous process of participatory design is the key to unlocking the full potential of a site and delivering a successful place. The design at Dunton Hills Garden Village is underpinned by a shared vision that has developed over time through collaboration with the Brentwood Borough Council, residents and an external and internal design review process. Working with multiple stakeholders, including workshops with local schools, has enabled us to create the foundations of a great place that will have a lasting legacy and be somewhere that people are proud to call home.

Our masterplan for Dunton Hills Garden Village promotes design at the human scale, creating a walkable settlement with a coherent identity through harmonious interaction between people, place and nature.

Outcomes and deliverables

At the outset, we undertook a full analysis of the site and surrounding area and drew up early design concepts to help promote the site through the emerging local plan. Following this, we undertook a detailed Pattern Book Study of a number of surrounding settlements to help inform and justify our masterplan approach.

A Framework Masterplan and accompanying Framework Masterplan Document (FMD) was then produced on behalf of CEG and in close collaboration with Bentwood Borough Council and other landowners. This was endorsed by the local planning authority and Design South East, following a design review process in 2019/2020. The site is allocated in the draft local plan and an outline planning application for the site is to be submitted in 2021.

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