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Proctor & Matthews lodges plans for 'garden-city' homes in Canterbury

a 140-home ‘garden city’ development on the outskirts of Canterbury for detailed planning

Proctor and Matthews Architects have submitted plans for 140 homes on the edge of Canterbury, the first development phase of Mountfield Park - a major urban extension to the city. Proctor and Matthews Architects’ proposals develop the concept of the 21st century ‘garden city’ through a design narrative inspired by local landscape and vernacular forms.

Proctor and Matthews Architects were commissioned by Kent-based developer Corinthian Land, whose proposals for Mountfield Park - masterplanned by David Lock Associates - constitute Canterbury’s biggest ever planning application. Alongside up to 4,000 homes, the urban extension will also contain new healthcare, education, business, retail and leisure facilities on the south-eastern fringe of Canterbury.

A close study of nearby courtyard farms and the site’s existing landscape – dominated by a grid of hops fields, fruit orchards and planted shelter belts - has informed Proctor and Matthews’ design approach. The Phase 1 development is consequently arranged as six residential clusters, each one a series of courts made up of interconnected houses with an orchard landscape focus at the heart of each grouping. In response to the site’s undulating topography, the clusters are configured as a series of stepped terraces, with the edge of the tallest apartment court acting as a significant townscape marker at the entrance a proposed new country park.

Each residential court cluster is contained within a red brick perimeter wall incorporating gables, chimneys and perforated brick panels. This echoes Kent village streetscapes, and provides a distinctive profile to the clusters. White masonry gables rise above the wall – a hint of the predominantly white courtyard façade walls of each home. Red clay tile roofs dominate, while natural slate is used in places to add variety and accentuate particular buildings. A scattering of different gable treatments offers further visual interest.

Proctor and Matthews’ scheme offers a broad mix of housing typologies and sizes, from one-bed apartments to six-bedroom family homes. Space standards exceed national guidelines. Houses are arranged around the perimeter of the cluster, each with integral external courtyards or walled gardens. Two tall apartment buildings are conceived as courtyard buildings with inner cloisters, while two others act as ‘bookends’ to rows of terraces houses. The majority of spaces within the 5 hectare development are designed as shared spaces, creating safe environments for families and children.

One of the most distinctive features of the elevated site is a dramatic view of Bell Harry, the tower of Canterbury Cathedral. This view has been protected by Proctor and Matthews’ layout, thereby maintaining a clear visual connection between Canterbury’s newest quarter and its historic core.

If planning consent is granted, development is expected to start on site in early 2017, with the first homes completed by March 2018.

“Our proposals for Mountfield Park offer a contemporary interpretation of a ‘garden city’, providing well-designed and contemporary new homes with a deep respect for context and character. Our previous work in Kent – such as Horsted Park in Chatham – has explored local vernacular traditions, and it has been exciting to do so again in Canterbury - one of Britain’s finest medieval cities.” Stephen Proctor