International masterplan competition for new 9,000-home Essex garden community down to final five

Five visionary design teams are vying to masterplan a landmark 9,000-home garden community in Essex after a major international competition this week reached its final stage.

Latimer, the development arm of Clarion Housing Group, is searching for an exemplary masterplanning team to design its major new garden community on the Colchester and Tendring borders.

Consultant teams were last month (September) invited to enter the developer’s international design competition to create an outstanding masterplan for the landmark Essex project – which aims to be the most sustainable and inclusive new community in the UK.

A total of 30 high quality submissions were received ranging from well-established firms with international experience and smaller design practices, to organisations making consortia bids. The judging panel has now selected five teams with the credentials to take on the project with confidence, flair, ambition, and which hold the imagination to push forward the debate about garden communities.

Latimer will now continue to work with consultants Colander identify the winning team to help deliver the diverse new 1,740-acre mixed-tenure community over the next two decades. As well as high-quality new housing, the project will provide employment space, a new country park, university expansion, a rapid transport system, retail, leisure and community infrastructure.

The competition’s final five teams were each awarded scores of over 90% by judges during the stage one evaluation. They are:

  • Haworth Tompkins and Kjellander Sjoberg with Periscope, Arup, Michael Pawlyn, Grounded_Practice and Connect
  • Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, Baumschlager Eberle Architekten and Jas Bhalla with OP-EN, Arup and Soundings
  • Velocity (Tibbalds, Mikhail Riches, Petra Marko, Sarah Wigglesworth and Studio Octopi) with BBUK, The Landscape Partnership, Biodiversity by Design, Expedition Engineering and Thomas Matthews
  • Farrells and Office S&M with Exterior Architecture, Sarah Price Landscape, Hoare Lea and Iceni Projects
  • Grimshaw and Gbolade Design Studio with Gross Max, Bioregional and ECF.

The competition’s final stage, which has commenced, will challenge the teams to expand their design philosophies and develop a delivery strategy outlining how they will collaborate on proposals in the preparation of an outline planning application for the new garden community.

The shortlisted teams will be judged on their collaborative approach to the design of a landmark community which recognises the traditions of garden community principles whilst exploring how these might evolve to create a resilient model for future generations.

The judging panel will include senior representatives from Latimer and partnering organisations, as well as Lord Matthew Taylor – an instrumental figure in garden community policy. Also on the panel is Jonathan Rose from Prior + Partners, who have been developing the policy framework for the new community on behalf of the councils.

Richard Cook, Group Development Director at Clarion Housing Group, said: “We are edging closer to naming an exceptional masterplanning team for our Tendring-Colchester Borders project, which will deliver vital homes and facilities for generations to come.

“We have been incredibly impressed by every team and organisation which submitted an entry, and would like to thank them all for their innovative, compelling and inspiring ideas. The outstanding final five now have a fantastic opportunity to set a new standard for placemaking at a sustainable 21st century garden community where people aspire to live, work and visit.”

Caroline Cole, founder of consultants Colander, said: “The calibre of submissions for this competition was very high and the shortlisted five teams have the potential to produce something extraordinary. Colander is delighted to be involved with this exciting project and we look forward with much anticipation to seeing the teams’ final stage submissions.”

Latimer was selected as development partner for the new community in the summer of 2021, and will work alongside local housebuilder Mersea Homes, Colchester Borough Council, Tendring District Council and Essex County Council to bring the plans to life. It will also engage proactively with the local community.

The successful team is expected to be announced in January 2023. More details can be found here.