Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud has selected Swindon for his first foray into volume house-building.
Hab Housing, his new development company, was born out of frustration with the poor quality of much of the UK’s volume house-building. Hab, which stands for Happiness, Architecture, Beauty, aims to create successful sustainable communities with housing which is responsive to context, environmentally-friendly and beautifully designed.
Working closely with Swindon Borough Council, Hab Housing will partner with Footstep Homes to build two developments of 150-200 homes, both in Swindon. The process will be filmed by the production company TalkbackTHAMES for a documentary to be shown on Channel 4.
"I'm very excited that Hab and Footstep have an opportunity to work with Swindon not just on one but two sites," said Kevin. "Collectively we all share the view that the future of housing in Swindon is one that will be known for architecture of the highest order, great and vital communities and world-leading sustainability.
"We're not interested in just ticking all the boxes, we're interested in making places that people really enjoy living in, places people enjoy visiting, places where people want to stay.
"Both sites offer challenges, not least of which is the fact they're both currently very green spaces. One is a redundant allotment site with scrubland to the North, the other is greenfield agricultural land at Wichelstowe But our interest in these sites starts with what they already have: the trees, their open space and their ecology. We know from studies that it's possible to develop a site and in fact increase the biodiversity there. That remains an objective in both locations."
Wichelstowe, is the next major develoment area of Swindon, next to the M4. Long known as 'the Front Garden,' development has been opposed for the last 8 years by the Front Garden Action Group.
Councillor Rod Bluh, Leader of Swindon Borough Council, said, "I am incredibly excited that Kevin McCloud has chosen Swindon for this very important project, which has a significance way beyond our boundaries. We have been driving hard our vision for sustainable development over the past year and to secure Kevin’s project is a great boost to our ambitions. Kevin is an inspiring designer and individual and we are extremely lucky that he’s chosen to focus his talents here in Swindon."
Camilla Lewis, Head of Factual Features at TalkbackTHAMES said: "Kevin is one of the very rare talents in this country who have really taken ownership of the territory of homes. We see this as an incredible opportunity to build on the work we have done together on Grand Designs and believe that this could be a blueprint for the way we live in the future."
Hab Housing and Footstep are working with two architectural practices, dsdha and Wright & Wright, who were selected from a long list of 50 architects. The team also includes sustainable development consultant Vertigo, structural and environmental engineer Gifford, cost consultant DBK Goyne Adams and planning consultant Terence O’Rourke.
Pictured above, Kevin McCloud with from left, Councillor Rod Bluh, Peter North of Footstep Homes, Councillor Peter Greenhalgh