Leek Wootton and Guy’s Cliffe wanted to bring forward new residential development without damaging the setting and character of historic buildings. To achieve this they utilised design code work that is available through technical support, to get a design that was right for them.

An image of the Anchor Inn Pub

With a population of over 1,000, the parish of Leek Wootton and Guy’s Cliffe extends from the River Avon in the east to the outskirts of Warwick and Kenilworth to the south.

The neighbourhood planning journey was kicked off by Leek Wootton and Guy’s Cliffe Parish Council in early 2014 with consultation events. At these events the community expressed a desire to protect the local environment and to ensure new housing was in keeping with the parish character. This desire fed in to the vision for the neighbourhood plan:

‘continue to be a thriving, rural neighbourhood set within the Green Belt. It will be a sustainable community which provides decent homes for all its residents whilst maintaining its vitality and intrinsic character. The Neighbourhood Plan will have ensured that any development improves and is sympathetic to the environment, landscape, look and feel of the area.’

A photo of a large house with a car park in front of it

To help with the preparation of the neighbourhood plan, the parish council received design code work through technical support. Colin Smith, Chairman of the Council explains why the group wanted the design code work:

“The offer of technical support coincided with the announcement by the Warwickshire Police Authority that they planned to completely vacate their headquarters complex in the village of Leek Wootton and to sell the site for development. This substantially changed the parameters for proposed new development within our NP designated area. Up till now only parts of the headquarters land had been designated for development, but the decision brought a significant ‘brownfield’ site into the equation, including a Grade II* listed manor house, which the police had used as offices since 1948.’’

The design code work focused on potential housing options for this brownfield site, which contains the Grade II listed Woodcote House. It involved AECOM undertaking a site visit and briefing meeting with members of the Parish Council and the agency charged with organising the redevelopment of the site. The consultants at AECOM also undertook a review of the local and national planning policies that any development on the site would need to comply with.

Taking into account the site specific constraints and opportunities, design specialists at AECOM developed a number of options for the site, with different dwelling densities. The aim of this exercise was to establish how various densities of housing would affect the setting and historical character of the Grade II listed Woodcote House, its associated stables and grounds.

A low density option was developed, with a density of 19 dwellings per hectare. This option would see the Grade II listed house retained, as well as the associated historic stables and garden.

Low density option

A map of the low density option of the Woodcote site

A key to the elements on the map

A high density option was also developed, with a density of 39 dwellings per hectare. This would see the Grade II listed building retained, but would see the loss of the historic stable buildings and would also see the replacement of the original kitchen garden and historic wall, with a smaller garden.

High density option

A map of the high density option for Woodcote

A key to the elements on the map

Developing a variety of density options allowed AECOM to recommend a preferred option for the site- 23.5 dwellings per hectare. AECOM identified this as the preferred option as it could accommodate more dwellings than the low density option (highlighted above), while still retaining the Grade II listed buildings, stables and garden.

Preferred sensitive option

A map of the preferred sensitive option

A key to the elements on the map

Colin explains the benefits of the design code work:

“AECOM involvement has provided valuable input to the Parish Council in defining policy for the site, especially the number and mix of potential new dwellings.  It has also contributed to the evidence base for the preparation of the NDP.

My view is that the technical support has given the NDP policies a far greater level of ‘authority’ than would have been the case had they been conceived by the NDP Steering Group alone.”