Cabot Homes: St John Reade Development, Bristol

Cabot Homes: St John Reade Development, Bristol
Cabot Homes: St John Reade Development, Bristol

What do you do when you’re not allowed to cut down the mature trees scattered across the site chosen for your flagship housing project? Build around them, of course.

As a result, Cabot Homes’ award-winning residential development in Bristol is entirely curved. And no doubt fearing that one insignificant challenge like that might leave the project team bored and restless, Cabot decided to build a round tower at the end of the development as a finishing touch. As you might have guessed, it had to have a fairly intimate relationship with its building control team to ensure that everything it was doing met the requirements of the Building Regulations. The result is a high-quality project that impressed the client, residents and the judging panel alike.

The finalists

Bath and North-east Somerset council/Persimmon Homes: Thicket Meade, Somerset

Thicket Meade in Midsomer Norton, Somerset, can reasonably call itself the new Poundbury. Built on Duchy of Cornwall land, and to the same standards as the aforementioned model community, Persimmon has managed to make every house at Thicket Meade unique. The overall effect is of a country village that looks much older than it really is, and which fits perfectly with the local vernacular. The Prince of Wales himself couldn’t ask for more.

Highfield Homes of Distinction: Menors Place, Devon

As part of its combined new-build and conversion housing development, this Devon housebuilder rescued an old primary school from demolition. It commissioned a local architectural practice to design and refurbish a selection of old and new properties that would blend together seamlessly. The centrepiece of the scheme is the primary school, now converted into six units of one, two or three bedrooms, but still keeping their original features such as the cathedral-style windows. And all this had to be done without disturbing a colony of bats. At least all the old schoolmasters had moved out.

Ian Darby Partnership: South Staiths, Gateshead

This Newcastle firm has turned a rural idyll into suburban community on the banks of the River Tyne, a couple of miles away from the city centre. And it is already famous, having received extensive coverage in the press for being designed by Hemingwaydesign, the company set up by fashion guru Wayne Hemingway and his wife Gerardine. It’s not all glitz and no substance though – far from it. The scheme is extremely successful and well-thought-out – and the judges loved the public spaces that have been created by the careful and imaginative planning.

Leeds council/Shepherd Construction: Clarence Dock, Leeds

The first two phases of Shepherd Construction’s Clarence Dock is intended to regenerate land in a prime urban location. The offices, apartments and penthouses are modern, and many enjoy water-view balconies and terraces. The whole £150m, 15-acre scheme is transforming the Leeds waterfront into a place for living, working, shopping, eating and drinking. All in all, a good place to be.

St James Homes: New River Village, north London

A fine example of urban regeneration can be found in St James’ 622-home development of New River Village in Harringay. Working closely with the council, this housebuilder took a water treatment works and Victorian pump house, and turned them into a modern apartment scheme. The pump house, which the apartments have been designed to complement, is now a superb restaurant and gallery space.