Berkeley Homes chooses neoclassical architect to lead exemplary brownfield regeneration project.
Neoclassical architect Demetri Porphyrios has been asked by Berkeley Homes to masterplan the £100m-plus regeneration of Rochester’s brownfield riverside area.

Berkeley approached Porphyrios after it won the contract to become Medway council’s development partner ahead of Wimpey and Crest Nicholson.

Porphyrios will jointly lead the design team with HTA Architects. Work will now start on the masterplan and public consultation for the redevelopment.

The project was hailed last year by urban taskforce chairman Lord Rogers as a flagship regeneration scheme. It will involve the clearance of 32 ha of land, including gasworks and industrial buildings close to Rochester’s historic city centre.

Plans for the site include a mixed-use development of houses, a hotel or conference centre, retail and office space, and a riverside walk and an ecology park. A river wall is also planned.

Medway council has earmarked a minimum of 900 homes for the scheme, although the exact number has yet to be decided. It claims the site is one of the most significant urban riverside areas in the UK still available for redevelopment.

Porphyrios Associates senior associate Alireza Sagharchi said: “It’s a dream project. The project is sustainable and has a commitment not to raid the countryside. This is truly brownfield.

“The development will be in the character and scale of the existing town. The priority is the long-term development of Rochester.”

The scheme is the biggest UK masterplan project so far for Porphyrios, who recently designed the 7 Brindleyplace office in Birmingham.

The project is sustainable and has a commitment not to raid the countryside. It’s truly brownfield

Alireza Sagharchi, Porphyrios Associates

HTA partner Ben Derbyshire was delighted at the prospect of working with Porphyrios. He said: “We’re a winning combination. Demetri has a brilliant way of producing natural environments which have a vernacular feel. We will be providing Demetri with the technical means to achieve this effect.”

Berkeley Partnership Homes managing director Alisdair Chant said the firm was fully committed to partnering with Medway council.

He said: “This project is very long term and focused on partnering, rather than just looking at the design.”

Advising the Berkeley team on contamination issues is engineer High-Point Rendel.

Medway council, which began the selection process last summer, praised the quality of the entrants. Director of planning and transport Richard Simmons said: “The three bids pulled out all the stops. There was a tremendous choice.”

Simmons said the final development agreement will be made between the council and Berkeley in the early summer.

The brownfield land is a key part of the major Thames Gateway and Medway regeneration programme.