New village gets ready to rise after long years of disputes
Over a century after Joseph Rowntree created the garden village of New Earswick, work has started on a 21st century version. Sharon Dale reports.
MONEY, influence and vision were the only ingredients needed to get the garden village of New Earswick out of the ground in 1902.
Chocolatier and Quaker philanthropist Joseph Rowntree hatched his plan after a report on the overcrowded and insanitary living conditions endured by workers in York and pledged to create light-filled homes in a haven with gardens, open green space and community facilities.
He bought 123 acres on the outskirts of the city, engaged the planner Raymond Unwin and the architect Barry Parker and a year later the first 28 homes were up.
Fast forward over a century and continuing his legacy by creating a 21st entry version of New Earswick has proved problematic.
It has taken 12 years of wrangling, NIMBY protests and hold-ups for the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust to start on the first phase of Derwenthorpe in Osbaldwick.
The 50 acre York City Council site has planning permission for 540 properties and David Wilson Homes has just begun digging the foundations for the first 64 homes.
No wonder Nigel Ingram Nigel Ingram, the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust’s development director. sounds so upbeat and excited: “It’s been a long road. We started the process in 1999 and the first planning application was in 2003 but because it was so big and on local authority land, the government decided on a public inquiry, so we had one in 2006 lasting six weeks and in 2007 the Secretary of State said we could get on with it. Then local objectors wanted the site designated a village green and there was another inquiry to look at the validity of the that claim.
“We thought that was the last issue and then as we were about to start, the European Commission insisted on investigating the tendering process for the site.
“That rumbled on for two years. So yes it’s a relief to actually start and it’s very exciting.”
The plans are interesting and the modern architecture reflects its time, yet Derwenthorpe has Joseph Rowntree’s ethos at heart and has ambitions create a diverse and cohesive community.
The housing will be a mix of rented and shared ownership homes plus owner-occupied and there will ten different property types from terraces to semis and detached, which are designed to attract and retain residents of all ages.
“We have 25 per cent of the homes for social rent, 15 per cent for shared ownership and the rest for outright sale.
“These properties will be scattered about, so the social rented homes won’t be ghettoised,” says Nigel.
To ensure they didn’t make any mistakes and to see how they would function, they built two prototypes to designs by Richard Partington Architects, London.
“They are contemporary but, but we didn’t want them to look like space ships or log cabins. They are a refresh of the 1930s semi, nothing too way out.
“They are red brick but some of them will painted or clad with some wood panelling, so traditional materials,” says Nigel.
The construction is eco-friendly with lots of insulation and what Nigel describes as a “Thermos flask effect” rather than “eco bling”. The idea is to make them as air tight as possible and to combat the risk of condensation, they will all have heat recovery and exchange units, which remove stale air and then heat and circulate fresh air from outside.
There will be an Energy Centre in the middle of the site with a bio mass boiler fed by locallysourced wood chips, which should supply the whole of Derwenthorpe with central heating and hot water.
Other thoughtful aspects include a meeting room for residents, pedestrian friendly streets and two play areas. On for younger children and another for older ones.
There will also be a bus route through the site, a car club and cycle ways into the city.
“The first people who move here will given a free bus pass for six months to encourage them to use public transport, or £150 towards a bike and we’ll have the first residential car club on a residential development,” says Nigel.
The creation of Derwenthorpe will take seven to ten years, which will be one up on New Earswick, which has been added to steadily over the last century.
VILLAGE PEOPLE: Derwenthorpe will be contemporary but not “way out”, says development director Nigel Ingram.