Swindon Southern Development Area (SDA) borders Swindon Old Town on land that runs up to the M4 motorway. It is a relatively flat site which includes a scheduled ancient monument, various areas of archaeological interest and a length of restored canal.
The practice, as Masterplanners for Taylor Woodrow Homes, local land-owners and the Borough Council, have designed a masterplan that creates a sustainable development which will help to meet Swindon's current housing needs providing a series of mixed use neighbourhoods limited in size so that no one is more than a five minute walk from local facilities at the centre.
A shared 'High Street' running between three of these neighbourhoods will provide a catchment area that supports a wider range of facilities and acts as the focus for a greater mix of uses including employment, local shops, and community facilities. The urban form, particularly the high street, is based closely on local precedent, with architectural characteristics drawn from the immediate area so as to ensure that the new development has an identity rooted in the Wiltshire area.
The masterplan includes 4500 new houses, major new business areas of 15 hectares, local facilities, cafes, pubs, shops, four new schools including a secondary school, a mix of uses along a new high street and sites allocated for 3 churches or other centres of worship tied together by a sustainable transport package including three new high quality bus routes, a series of direct footpaths and cycleways linking the new development with the surrounding areas and Swindon town centre. The emphasis here is on minimising reliance on the motor car and promoting an energy efficient and ecologically friendly system. The plan also includes major new lengths of canal, a new canal basin and a new country park.
The strategy of building to a density of over 45 units per hectare has ensured that out of 300 hectares, approximately half remains as green open space which has been provided with improved public access so as to be used as a leisure facility. The design also ensures that no one resident is more than a five minute walk away from a green open space.
A design code has been developed to control the design of the buildings within the SDA masterplan. The plan and the code were put together after an extensive public consultation exercise and the project is part of the pilot study into design coding carried out by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM).
The purpose of the code has been to supplement the masterplan with three dimensional criteria which secure the design of the public spaces and ensure that the architecture of the new buildings gives the SDA an identity rooted in the Wiltshire area. The code has also been used to ensure that there is real variety across the site by setting specific criteria particular to different building types and to each individual neighbourhood within the SDA.