This ongoing research project seeks to provide a comprehensive and sustainable approach to addressing the need for housing, the need to revive our ailing town centres and the need to reduce dependency on non-sustainable modes of transport.
Our proposals look at Letchworth Garden City as a test case to show how the introduction of 900 much needed new car free homes, built on Letchworth’s plentiful existing car parks, service yards and poor quality, under-utilised town centre sites, could provide a population that would perpetuate demand for shops, leisure, entertainment and events as well as the reinstatement of Letchworth’s historic Grammar school as a new junior school, and in so doing, create a vibrant, walkable diurnal garden city for all ages.
Increasing awareness of the impact of climate change, together with advances in modern technology, and the resultant increasing abundance of shared travel and delivery opportunities mean that vehicle use is no longer as required or as fashionable as it once was. This has the the dual effect that in town centres there is less need for space for cars and heavy goods vehicles. This brings with it the opportunity to reclaim this underutilised space for people, activity and community and in so doing aid the revival of town centre economies and create healthier and happier places to live.
The proposals were originally a response to an RIBA competition brief that called for the development of 900 new homes and a new school on a site located in the green belt of Letchworth’s periphery to fulfil a demand for predominantly one and two bedroom homes. Our proposals questioned the appropriateness of the brief in an age that requires sustainable urbanism.
The practice has a personal connection to Letchworth through Principal Director, Ross Hutchinson who grew up living in Letchworth as a child and whose family lived there for over 40 years.