Countryside’s Horsted Park community is set in six and a half acres of parkland surrounded by the unspoilt Medway countryside, but is within easy reach of the busy towns of Chatham and Rochester.
Situated on the site of the former Mid Kent College the new community is also located just off the A229 and the M2 is less than a mile away for fast access to the M20, M26, M25, the Dartford Crossing, Ebbsfleet International and London Airports.
Embracing the Sprit of Kent
At Horsted Park, Countryside wanted to evolve existing examples of traditional local Kentish architecture into a modern, sustain- able development.
To achieve the aim of embracing the spirit of a traditional Kent village and the geometry of the adjacent Fort Horsted, whilst creating a modern community, Countryside worked closely with Proctor and Matthews Architects. Together they designed a development of new homes that both reflect traditional local architecture and building methods, whilst creating contemporary homes.
The resulting 336 homes reflect the look of traditional Kent village communities and local farmsteads, whilst paying homage to the neighbouring fort. This has resulted in neighbourhoods with buildings of differing heights, shapes and purposes located around courtyards and squares that provide shelter and communal open spaces.
The shared courtyards and interwoven landscapes link apartment buildings, terraced and courtyard housing. The arrangement also ensures that many homes have an outlook over the landscaped and courtyard space.
The homes are built with a distinctive, asymmetrical brick patterned band, devised as a contemporary interpretation of traditional local homes. The brickwork patterning provides a reference to historic brick bonding patterns that can be found in the old quarter of nearby Rochester. Projecting brickwork patterning is also set against simple brick facades and window openings at the first storey level in a chequerboard pattern. This gives the homes a visual feature and sense of character, whilst also helping to highlight doors and windows.
Gabled roofs have been used extensively along with hipped ‘rural farmstead’ roofs to create a strong ‘village’ character. The steep pitched roofs, gable ends and dormer windows in the roofs reflect the shapes of traditional buildings, including local farmsteads.
To further support the link with local architecture, build materials, including brick and weatherboards, have been used to reflect existing local styles and colours.
However, as well as complementing the look of existing local communities Horsted Park’s homes have been constructed using the modern methods of construction and are rated as Code for Sustainable Homes Level 3.
Light and space
The homes at Horsted Park have been designed to create comfortable living areas that maximise the use of light and space. The one and two- bedroom apartments also feature private terraces and balconies that provide essential access to outside space.
Houses feature full height glazing, fully glazed conservatories and the four-bedroom homes have double garages. The properties’ flexible open plan layouts create living spaces, which can flow into one another. This provides the perfect space for the lifestyle of today and the opportunity to easily entertain large numbers of friends.
The development’s approach to landscape design has been created with a sequence of open spaces, which connect to the wider Medway countryside.
The new Village Square forms a focal point, with tree-lined avenues and landscaped ‘corridors’ radiating into the countryside beyond.
Wherever possible, existing trees have been retained and integrated into the development. Where it was proved necessary to remove trees, new trees species have been planted to be sympathetic not only to the development’s architecture, but also to the surrounding open spaces. Native thicket planting, using species such as Field Maple, Hazel, Dogwood, and Hawthorn have helped to create additional wildlife habitats.
When the development is completed, the six acres of open space to the south of the development will be left in its natural state. The resulting Eco Park, with its series of cut footpaths and fitness equipment, positioned along the route to create a ‘trim trail’, will encourage residents to use the space.
Bench seating, grassed areas, shrub beds and suitable trees, with loosely shaped canopies to allow light to penetrate, defined by paved footpaths help create a sense of belonging within a relaxing area.
The unique ecology of the local area also makes it a haven for water birds and other wildlife. The broad tidal mudflats and creeks are used extensively for sailing and fishing. The area also offers the opportunity for long walks where it is possible to see cattle grazing on the saltmarshes.
The development has already won a number of housing awards.
Horsted Park was one of only six schemes to receive a Housing Design Award 2014 in the ‘Completed Scheme’ category.
It was also awarded ‘Housing Project of the Year’ 2013 by Building and named winner of a Kent Design and Development Award in the ‘Best Major Residential Project’ category.
Speaking about the development’s success Tony Travers, Countryside’s Managing Director of the New Homes and Communities Central division, said:
“Horsted Park sets the standard for creating a place of character and quality. The development has been designed to the highest standards to suit a variety of purchasers from first-time buyers, right through to extra care housing, because we wanted to create a place where people will feel at home. Winning the Housing Design Award validates what we set out to achieve with Horsted Park and the team at Countryside is delighted these wonderful homes have been recognised.”
By David Mote, Editor