Colchester urban village

Colchester urban village is a development of 2,500 homes or so (with employment and open spaces etc) in a slice of land to the south of Colchester town centre, based on the ‘urban village’ principles promoted by Prince Charles and the Urban Villages Forum since the 1990s.

These are some views of the area to the north of the development, just off Butt Road.

The entrance off Butt Road seems to be half-finished. There’s some interesting detail on the gable to the left of the entrance, but the rest lacks any fine articulation.

secondary entrance

This part of the development is pretty much based on Victorian architectural styles, with Poundbury-esque Victorian lamp posts (similar in many ways to the approach adopted in Fairford Leys). I wonder if these couldn’t have been low-level, particularly where there are no vehicles (and they are near to what look like bedroom windows on this photo). It’s a pity the opportunity was not taken to provide a more interesting facade to terminate this vista.

I like the use of the building line, with some dwellings straight off the footpath, others with small front gardens and a little planting, some with raised ground floors. Many Victorian streets have similar profiles, and suffer a similar problem – they were not designed for cars, or with bins and cycle storage. The problem of bin storage and collection is a long-standing one in many neighbourhoods.

At Colchester, cars are dealt with by providing rear courts. This provides the streets themselves with a much better environment, but as shown below, there are already yellow lines on the streets and people parking on the road in front of their houses.

Garland Road. The protruding gable detail at the end of the street terminates this vista. I like the gravel strip defining the edge-of-footpath on the left, incorporating steps up to front doors and gas meter access. Someone ought to design a gas meter cover that actually looks nice.

The use of decent materials, repeated porch and window details with well-proportioned openings creates a strong rhythm and feel of quality.

Part of the energy village. Good proportions, and facade, good use of materials.

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