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How to…boost housing and the environment at the same time.

A new regeneration project in Surrey aims to transform a post-war housing estate with more homes, open spaces and traffic-free streets.

Thameswey Developments have put forward plans on behalf of Woking Borough Council to double the number of homes on the Sheerwater estate, from 570 to around 1,200 – nearly half of which, the developers claim, will be affordable.

While the prospect of more than doubling the number of homes on the 30-hectare site might be a daunting prospect, the developers maintain there will also be new community facilities, parkland and open spaces.

‘The vision for Sheerwater is to create a desirable, attractive and highly sustainable place to live and work,’ said Mark Rolt from Thameswey Developments.

‘A place that, through high-quality design and community facilities, will reduce existing levels of deprivation and where the community can thrive into the future. The aim is to promote healthier lifestyles and create a lively neighbourhood with a real buzz.’

To maximise public space and build on Sheerwater’s strong sense of community, car movement will be restricted to the perimeter of the site – creating car-free streets.

And instead of multi-car forecourts to the homes, ground-level car parks will be located central to the development, with housing and ‘podium gardens’ set above.

According to the developers, the result will be a network of pedestrian streets, parks, squares and gardens, where children can play safely out of doors and residents can come together.

A new community hub, complete with local shops, doctors’ surgery, community centre and nursery, as well as existing primary and secondary schools, will all be within walking distance of the homes.

Set in five neighbourhoods, each with its own distinct identity, the new homes are designed to be contemporary and elegant, with a mixture of mews houses and low-rise apartment buildings, each overlooking landscaped gardens or parkland.

They will cater for any stage of life and circumstance, from one-bed studios up to five-bed family houses, including homes for the elderly, people with disabilities and sharers.

BDP housing architect Chris Kenny explained: ‘We needed to increase the number of homes but also wanted to maximise the public spaces at the same time. Surrey has high levels of car ownership, so we have created car parks with gardens above them and moved the roads to the perimeter of the neighbourhood.’

The ingenious designs will enable denser housing development, whilst also providing 4 hectares of excellent quality outdoor space, including parks, gardens, sports facilities and semi-rural greenspace, for all the residents to enjoy.

And centralised systems for waste management, and sustainable heating and electricity, will be housed underneath the buildings to service the entire neighbourhood.

Energy usage for each home will be minimised with the use of enhanced insulation, extensive solar panels and low energy lighting. Electric car charging is also incorporated into the house and apartment designs.

‘These proposals aim to demonstrate how a deprived estate can be transformed into a vibrant neighbourhood through intelligent, sustainable design,’ added Mr Kenny.

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