Celebrity landscape designer Wayne Hemingway has launched a new era for public green space at Dartford in Kent.
Housing minister Yvette Cooper heralded The Bridge project as the start of a strategic approach to design within the Thames Gateway area, one of four priority areas for housing growth identified in the 2003 Sustainable Communities Plan. The project is part of the Government’s response to the Barker Review, which said that it should increase the level of house building to 200,000 a year by 2016.
Hemingway’s company, Hemingway Designs, has a rolling contract with an initial ring-fenced £1.62m, 32ha landscaping budget for the £100m development at The Bridge. ProLogis Developments is in charge of the project, George Wimpey will build its 1,500 houses and flats, Broadway Malyan is landscape architect and Hemingway Designs is designer.
Dartford Borough Council horticulture officer Eric Davis said working with Hemingway had been “a challenge” but praised the plans.
But he questioned whether the plans are sustainable given possible budget cuts by Wimpey later in the project.
Hemingway said: “Green and blue ways can’t be touched. They will be planted at an early stage before the housing is up. So that argument is probably not valid.”
The designer said builders are re-looking at gardens for housing projects: “We are going back to a housing situation where there are more gardens higher up the agenda. House-builders are going to have to sell housing on green. Things are shifting away from black Tarmac.”
He added: “Gardens in most new housing developments are too small. In the next 10 years I’ll do my utmost to make them bigger. It’s a financial situation. With what we are doing you have a choice. At least you have back garden leading out onto a landscaped community space.”
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