The Wilshere Park development was required to provide a high-quality residential environment, appropriate to its historic and rural setting in terms of scale, design, layout and materials that could be integrated with the future phases of the development.
A joint venture by Linden Homes Chiltern and Wates, Wilshere Park comprises a total of 196 new residential homes of up to three storeys and includes 12 luxury apartments within the conserved and converted Frythe Building; an architectural brick-built landmark close to the centre of the site, built in 1846 as a private country home and later converted to a hotel before serving as a Special Operations Executive Research Facility during the Second World War.
Extending across an area of 19ha, the site has been occupied more recently by a pharmaceutical research facility. Located c.1.3km south of the historic village of Welwyn, it is a designated Major Development Site (MDS) within the Metropolitan Green Belt and is surrounded by mixed open pasture, arable field and mature woodland; it also lies within an area of archaeological significance and the Ayot St. Peter Wooded Upland Landscape Character Area.
Phase 1 of the scheme provides 24 residential homes incorporating a mixture of three, four- and five-bedroom houses across c. 2.3ha at the north of the site, adjacent to White Hill. The homes are oriented around a central green space with mature chestnut trees, which have been retained to provide a focal point for the Phase 1 development.
The development is framed to the south by the central loop road and further green space beyond, while an additional green space and a density of mature trees serves to create a buffer zone at the north of the site.
All homes within Wilshere Park Phase 1 have been set to take advantage of new and existing greenspace within the development and have been designed to be sensitive to the rural setting. As such, a traditional Arts and Crafts vernacular prevails throughout Phase 1, within which brickwork plays a fundamental role.
All houses are two storeys in height, with ridge heights reduced through the use of hipped and gabled roofs. Elevations are comprised of stretcher-bonded sand-faced Ibstock Heritage Red Blend and Bexhill Red brick complemented by a deeply recessed ivory mortar; an aesthetic carried upward in the brickwork detailing of the development’s Arts and Crafts chimney stacks.
Additional detail is introduced through the use of sand-faced Ibstock Parham Red brickwork in the provision of single and double stretcher courses at ground and first floor level and traditional four-course high flat gauged arch work above cottage-style fenestration which echoes that of the Frythe Building. The warm hues and textures of brick are further complemented by the presence of clay roof tiles augmented by Fleur de Lis finials and decorative ridge tiles; tile-hung and Tudor-boarded gables and porched timber balconies at first floor level.
Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the technical performance of the brick makes it an important choice consistent with Linden Homes’ ‘fabric first’ approach to sustainability.