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Working with Countryside and L&Q on two of their major London regeneration schemes I was delighted to be asked to take part in the March ‘Design Month’ campaign and for the opportunity to describe the vision for our most recent collaboration, Brook Valley Gardens.

Hard-working design all in a day's work - by Alison Brooks

I applaud Countryside’s ambition to push the boundaries of residential design and embrace the value and impact it can have on a community. This is especially the case at Brook Valley Gardens in Chipping Barnet, a trailblazing development which will dramatically transform and rejuvenate the local area.

After our award-winning project at Acton Gardens in West London, Countryside offered Alison Brooks Architects (ABA) the opportunity to lead the masterplan team for the regeneration of the neglected Dollis Valley Estate in Chipping Barnet, EN5. I was eager to be involved in a project that would deliver a long-awaited transformation from ‘estate’ to ‘neighbourhood’, that would respond to the local community’s ambitions and provide new homes to serve contemporary lifestyles. ABA worked with Countryside, L&Q, landscape/architects HTA and the project sponsor Barnet Council to produce a successful competition bid in 2013.

Given the unique hillside setting of the site, the existing estate was poorly planned with tired 5-storey slab blocks marooned in car parks. The estate’s outdated planning did nothing to capitalise on the location and was cut off from its surroundings. ABA’s main aim was to make the site work much harder than before: re-connecting it to its neighbours, introducing tree-lined streets of modern homes and providing new community facilities that the wider Underhill community can benefit from.

The masterplan we have created sets in motion a complete transformation of the estate, re-connecting the development with the wider Barnet neighbourhood and green belt. Included in the plan is the creation of 671 new homes, to be built over a 15-year period, as well as a community centre, garden squares, children’s play areas and links to the local transport network. ABA’s scheme introduces new residential streets that follow the contours of the landscape and tree-lined avenues connecting three new communal garden squares. Wide terraced house plots have integrated parking and private back gardens.

ABA have re-interpreted the Arts & Crafts typical of Barnet with a range of house types, all with distinctive hipped roofs, dormers and generous front porches. We have put the land to remarkably efficient use, creating a new 21st Century garden suburb, sitting distinctly between the urban landscape of Greater London and the leafy Hertfordshire border.

All the homes, which are a mix of two and three storey terraced houses and four storey apartments are being built to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 and the London Housing Design Guide. All offer exceptional light, storage space, balconies and roof terraces. Each house has a cycle store, in-built recycling storage and solar PV roof panels. The result is an sustainable suburban development that is as green as it is ‘smart’.

Creating exceptional neighbourhood character and residential quality on this site is paramount to its success. By integrating efficient, landscape-led urban design and architecture inspired by its locale, we believe Brook Valley Gardens will offer a great new way of life in London’s first ‘smart’ garden suburb.

Alison Brooks, principal and creative director of Alison Brooks Architects London, is lead architect on a major Countryside regeneration project at Dollis Valley in Barnet, Brook Valley Gardens. Alison is recognised as one of the leading and most influential architects of her generation and is the only UK architect to have won all three of the UK’s most prestigious awards for architecture: the Stephen Lawrence Prize, the Manser Medal and the 2008 RIBA Stirling Prize.

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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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