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Longcross Garden Village
Longcross, Surrey, UK

A new Garden Village within the Metropolitan Green Belt

A new Garden Village set within the rolling and wooded Surrey countryside, on a former military research site. This community will comprise 1,800 homes alongside local facilities and employment spaces, situated in close proximity to Longcross Station.

Design process and narrative

The site is located towards the north of Surrey, serviced by Longcross Station and intersected by the M3 motorway. Further north lies the world-renowned Wentworth golf course whilst the area to the immediate south is characterised by residential homes. Chobham Common – a Special Protection Area, lies to the south and south-west of the site.

The area within the site boundary is just as unique and rich in character as the surrounding countryside. Previously the home of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), the site comprises a multitude of constructed and natural features including: vehicle testing facilities (test tracks and ramps), much of which creates a series of dramatic level changes; dense woodland (including areas covered by Tree Preservation Orders); and Scheduled Ancient Monuments and Listed Buildings (Barrow Hills House). It includes a bridge over the M3 motorway linking both halves of the site.

Working closely with Runnymede Borough Council, we developed a strong vision for the site based around three key objectives: the unique features of the site; the key elements of existing Surrey villages; and Garden Village principles. These then created a series of design principles and themes around which the masterplan was designed.

Surrey is the most wooded county in England, with many of its villages set within a woodland context. Therefore, key to the masterplan design was the retention of large clusters and belts of trees and existing greenery. This, along with the site’s other assets, helped to shape the “Green Grid Concept” which created the overall framework for the design. Connectivity to and through the site was then explored with the creation of several permeable walking and cycling routes set out – most of which follow the green grid to give users a real feeling that they are in Garden Village setting. Only after this were development parcels established and designed.

The site’s unique features helped in the formation of a series of character areas, ranging from higher density apartments, closer to the station and along the M3 edge, to areas comprising a more organic layout set within a parkland setting and around the listed Barrow Hills House. Other key areas of the site included a mixed-use village centre and a country park, which formed the site’s Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace to help mitigate the impact of development on the nearby Chobham Common.

The whole design process has involved multiple stakeholder presentations, exhibitions, site tours and design workshops and included the borough council, county council, parish councils, local residents/ resident groups and specialist design sessions/ reviews with Design South East.

Outcomes and deliverables

A Development Framework Document (DFD) was initially prepared and submitted to Runnymede Borough Council and helped secure the site’s allocation in the now adopted local plan. Following this, we have prepared a fully scheduled proving layout and an outline planning application for the southern part of the site (comprising 1,300 homes) which is due to be submitted in 2021.

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