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There is so much talk about sustainable communities but the real test of whether a new place is sustainable is to visit it 10, 20 or more years after the diggers have moved out. Has it been a sustained success and become a place of character and quality where people feel a sense of belonging? Has it flourished as the community has developed, the setting matured and its reputation prospered?

The real test of whether a new community is sustainable - by Graham Cherry

We were one of the first developers in the country to plan large-scale residential developments in a comprehensive way that included amenities, infrastructure and all of the elements needed to make places that people really want to live now and in the future. A central guiding principle has always been whether they would stand the test of time.

Our first ever new community was Chelmer Village in Chelmsford where development began in 1978. It now extends to an area of 300 acres with 2,000 homes, as well as shops including a superstore and a retail park, two primary schools, a community hall, doctor’s surgery, pub, church and lots of green open space. Residents moved in and put down roots, amenities for all of their every day needs were on the doorstep, the commercial elements created jobs and economic stability. A sense of pride and community blossomed and people enjoyed being there. Nowadays it is known as a very popular and established area of Chelmsford.

We learnt much from Chelmer Village and this helped inform Great Notley Garden Village which is an excellent example of a new community that has been emerging over the past 25 years. Designed as an extension to Braintree and inspired by the garden city movement, it has 2,000 homes alongside a successful employment park, a very popular 100 acre country park and wide-ranging community facilities. Throughout it has been delivered in a sustainable manner, in close partnership with the local authority and residents, to create a place that offers a great quality of life with strong environmental, economic and social credentials.

Great Notley was carefully designed in three distinct neighbourhoods that achieved an immediate sense of maturity. Many events were held in the early days to help the community come together. Great Notley has evolved as the community has grown and it has become one of the most sought after places to live in North Essex.

The process of transformation has been even greater at St Mary’s Island, part of Chatham Maritime, where an uninspiring brownfield site on the Medway River has been transformed into a vibrant and eco-friendly 21st century community. The plans aimed to be truly sustainable in every way, so the community minimises resource use. A wide range of facilities and amenities are provided to help and encourage residents to live a more sustainable lifestyle, reducing the overall impact on the environment and creating a strong community feel. The same can very much be said about the highly popular Greenwich Millennium Village.

With such a strong track record behind us in all of the many complex aspects of building new places and communities on greenfield or brownfield land, we are now moving ahead with our largest ever development at Beaulieu in Chelmsford, which will deliver 3,600 new homes. The same core principle of sustainability has guided every element, from the excellent design that complements the surroundings, to the infrastructure and the broad range of green space and facilities that will be provided.

As well as minimising environmental impact, residents at Beaulieu will have a comprehensive range of amenities at their disposal reducing the need for car travel, as well as a network of cycle ways and footpaths to encourage healthy lifestyles. Residents and the wider community will be able to get involved at grass roots level with a wide range of activities and initiatives that will help foster a sense of belonging. We are providing the building blocks from which will develop an outstanding place to live for generations to come. Just come back in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time and see for yourself!

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Graham Cherry,
Chief Executive,
New Homes & Communities



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About this blog

Here you’ll find property related blog articles from the team at Countryside as well as independent experts. Expect regular tips and advice on topics such as buying a new home, interior and landscape design, setting up home, mortgages and finance, plus articles on architecture, the property market, regeneration and more.

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