Wayne Hemingway showed what a difference a celebrity fashion designer could make to UK housebuilding when he unveiled proposals for a £70m Wimpey Homes scheme this week.
As revealed in Building two weeks ago, fashion designer and television pundit Hemingway and his wife Gerardine are working with architect Ian Darby Partnership to design Wimpey's 688-unit Staiths South Bank scheme in Dunston, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.

"This is not a PR exercise. This is going to change the marketplace," declared Hemingway. He is meeting the project team at fortnightly intervals to develop the designs for the 40-acre brownfield site, which formerly hosted the Gateshead Garden Festival.

The first phase of the scheme, which has just been submitted for planning approval, includes seven-storey riverside apartment blocks, and houses backing on to intimately-scaled courtyards containing seating and barbecues.

Buses and dustbin lorries are banned from the heart of the development to make the streets safe for children.

Residents will be within 400 m of a bus stop and will deposit household waste in central bins. "There will be no wheelie-bins. People will have to make extra effort to live here," said Hemingway.

Hemingway described the design of the homes as "friendly modernism" and said that it would incorporate some conservative, buyer-friendly elements. Homes have pitched roofs, and there is some use of traditional brick, along with coloured renders and timber cladding. Wimpey hopes to have the first units built in 14 months, with prices starting at about £60,000.