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Newhall, Harlow, England Delivering Better Places: Visual Case Study 5


WHAT ARE CASE STUDIES Case Studies aim to set out thinking, briefing or possible forward action on a specific topic or question. They provide in-depth information and can outline ways to tackle issues. This Case Study has been prepared by A+DS. WHAT IS THIS CASE STUDY ABOUT? This case study has been informed by Delivering Better Places, a collaborative publication from The Scottish Centre for Regeneration, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Scotland and Architecture and Design Scotland, who worked with the University of Glasgow to create a good practice guide. The guide helps public, private and community stakeholders identify good practice and improve their understanding of delivering better places. Delivering Better Places, S Gov, 2011

This case study provides a visual analysis of the Newhall development, Harlow, Essex presenting text from the Delivering Better Places analysis of the development alongside images which illustrate the findings. The objective of this case study is to provide a visual tool to highlight elements of successful developments from around Europe, to help inspire the delivery of better places for Scotland. The images within this case study have been selected from the Steve Tiesdell Legacy Collection, which can be accessed in full on flickr.


Site Location








Newhall demonstrates how committed place promoters, supported by an accomplished professional and with the wherewithal and intent, can create a place of quality. Following its inclusion in the Harlow Local Plan in the early 1990s, Roger Evans Associates were engaged by the landowners to create a masterplan and design codes and to ensure developments happened on the place promoter’s terms. Key delivery factors include the long-term commitment of enlightened landowners; a masterplan and design codes delivering exceptional streets; and subdivisions into small land parcels, with multiple developers and architects. In relation to Scotland, Newhall directly corresponds with the large, landed estates close to urban areas that are being sold for residential development or becoming ‘ripe’ for residential development. There are also valuable lessons for local authorities owning larger greenfield land parcels or anticipating urban extensions on greenfield land. On a socioeconomic basis, it is relevant to potential expansion of commuter settlements around Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, such as Falkirk and Linlithgow.


Does the place have a distinct identity? Yes – it’s certainly not an estate, nor is it generic suburbia. It looks and feels like a neighbourhood that has developed over time. In addition, the three-storey housing, townhouses, relatively small plots, terraced housing, cars parked within street blocks, give it a more urban character, which contrasts potently with Harlow’s predominant standard suburban development.


Does the place have spaces that are safe and pleasant? Yes – consistent use of street blocks with public fronts and private blocks means streets are overlooked and surveyed. The neighbourhood is also quite compact.


Is the place easy to move around (especially on foot) (‘permeable’)? Yes – consistent use of block structure makes the street pattern very legible; away from the main routes through the development, all streets are shared spaces.


Does the place make visitors feel sense-of-welcome? Yes – though quiet during the day, apart from opening and closing times of the school. Neighbourhood presently lacks amenities.


Will the place adapt easily to changing circumstances (‘robust’)? Houses are relatively low-rise and could be converted to other uses. Those along North Chase have higher ground floors to allow for later conversion to business premises. Houses have small gardens, and thus opportunities for extensions are limited.


Does the place make good use of scarce resources (‘sustainable’)? At present, the development is car dependent; Harlow is itself car dependent. Elements of mixed use development are in the pipeline.

Project Information LOCATION:

To the immediate east of Harlow, Essex, near to the A414. Very limited access by local bus services. PROJECT CONTEXT: Urban edge of mediumsized town/greenfield. PROJECT TYPE: Growth. Harlow is a popular commuter location for London with a strong local housing market; there is pressure for more places to live. RATIONALE: ‘Something better’ than conventional suburban development – especially something better than development on the place promoter’s previous land holding at Church Langley. PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Residential development of 550 units (80% complete at present) on approximately 100 ha site. It forms the first phase of a much larger development comprising 2,500 units; the whole development will form a rounded neighbourhood, focused on a primary school, and including shops, facilities and employment space. PLACE PROMOTER: Jon and William Moen, enlightened landowners, aided by consultant Roger Evans Associates as a supportive professional. LAND OWNERSHIP: Family land ownership of agricultural land adjacent to Harlow and becoming ripe for development in the early 1990s. DELIVERY METHOD: Separation of land developer, with sales of semi-serviced plots to developers within constraints of an overall masterplan and a series of design codes. Land parcels were deliberately kept small, and landowner exercised significant control over design and over the selection of the designer. Phase 1 consists of six sub-phases, each featuring a different developer and different architects, with some sub-phases featuring more than one architect. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME: Project conceived in early 1990s and design and approvals work was progressed through the 1990s. First sub-phase was completed in 2004 and about 80% of Phase I is now complete. Planning work on a second phase is well advanced and, depending on market conditions, construction work should begin shortly.

Architecture and Design Scotland Bakehouse Close, 146 Canongate Edinburgh EH8 8DD Level 2, 11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow, G1 3NU T: +44 (0) 845 1 800 642 F: +44 (0) 845 1 800 643 E:

Newhall Visual Case Study  

A case study providing a visual analysis of an exemplar development informed by Scottish Governement publication Delivering Better Places an...

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