‘Deprived’ Surrey suburb to undergo transformation

Plans to transform a post-war housing estate suffering from deprivation in Woking, Surrey into a new “sustainable community” have been revealed. The proposals intend to regenerate Sheerwater into a neighbourhood that meets the housing and future needs of local residents. The plans have been put forward by Thameswey Developments, as devel- oper, on behalf of Woking Borough Council.

The masterplan will see the existing number of homes on the 30 hectare site double from 570 to around 1,200, nearly half of which will be affordable, complete with community facilities, public parkland and gardens.

To maximise public space and build a sense of community, car movement is to be restricted to the perimeter of the site. Instead of multi-car forecourts to the homes, ground-level car parks will be located central to the development, with housing and ‘podium gardens’ set above. This is intended to create a network of pedestrian streets, parks, squares and gardens, where children can play safely out of doors and residents can come together.

Chris Kenny, architect with BDP, explained:

“We needed to increase the number of homes but also wanted to maximise the public spaces at the same time. Surrey has high levels of car ownership so we have created car parks with gardens above them and moved the roads to the perimeter of the neighbourhood.”

A new community hub, complete with local shops, doctors’ surgery, community centre and nursery, as well as existing primary and secondary schools, will all be within walking distance of the homes.

Set in five neighbourhoods, each with its own distinct identity, the new homes are designed to be contemporary, with a mixture of mews houses and low-rise apartment buildings, each overlooking landscaped gardens or parkland. They will cater for any stage of life and circumstance, from one-bed studios up to five-bed family houses, including homes for the elderly, people with disabilities and sharers.

The designs will enable denser housing development, while also providing four hectares of quality outdoor space, including parks, gardens, sports facilities and semi-rural greenspace, for all the residents to enjoy. The parks and gardens will include habitats that encourage wildlife and pioneering water management systems will see rainwater collected and used to irrigate the gardens.

Centralised systems for waste management, and sustainable heating and electricity, will be housed underneath the buildings to service the entire neighbourhood. Energy usage for each home will be minimised with the use of enhanced insulation, extensive solar panels and low energy lighting. Electric car charging is also incorporated into the house and apartment designs.

Chris Kenny of BDP added:

“These proposals aim to demonstrate how a deprived estate can be transformed into a vibrant neighbourhood through intelligent, sustainable design. The project has taken the approach of investing in high quality public spaces and infrastructure to maximise the value of the new houses that are put on the market.”

The sale of the new homes will be used to help fund the affordable housing and community facilities.

Mark Rolt from Thameswey Developments commented on the development:

“The vision for Sheerwater is to create a desirable, attractive and highly sustainable place to live and work. A place that, through high quality design and community facilities, will reduce existing levels of deprivation and where the community can thrive into the future. The aim is to promote healthier lifestyles and create a lively neighbourhood with a real buzz.”