Gorse Ride Breaks Ground

Works begin on 249 low-energy homes in Wokingham

26 May 2021

Site works by Wokingham Borough Council have started for our 249 low-energy homes masterplan at Gorse Ride. The proposals, which include a new landscape and public realm strategy that reconnects the estate to its surroundings, are set to transform the local area and reinvigorate the local community. The plans, which received unanimous planning committee approval, include the replacement of 178 post war prefabricated dwellings that have fallen into significant disrepair and cannot be suitably retrofitted. The design team, led by project manager AECOM, have worked in close collaboration with Wokingham Borough Council, local residents and the wider community.

The masterplan celebrates diversity through its mix of housing and creates an exemplar proposal for affordable and social tenure-led development. The phased regeneration will take place over a number of years, transforming the area into a place local people can be proud of.

The design is focused around a large village green that acts as the ‘heart’ of the new community. Green corridors and pocket parks provide open and safe spaces where residents can come together. All homes – whether social rent, shared ownership or market sale – are designed as tenure blind and with a fabric first approach. One and two-storey houses are located around the site’s perimeter, with three and four-storey apartment buildings positioned at the centre to provide passive surveillance.

Material selection is a response to the local context. The widespread use of red brickwork is for robustness, longevity and reduced maintenance but also as a reference to the area’s industrial past while the reinterpretation of chimneys as ventilation stacks (serving the MVHR and internal ASHP units) offer an additional sense of domesticity. All homes feature high levels of airtightness and thermal performance to reduce operational energy and improve indoor air quality and comfort.

Oliver Wood, Project Director said: “We’ve been working closely with the council and local residents to understand their needs and aspirations. Their input and insights have been invaluable to our approach and the preparation of proposals which are high-quality and sustainable. The idea of ‘Dwellings within a Wooded Garden’ became an inspiring vision of what affordable-led regeneration projects can look like within Wokingham and further afield.”

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