The greenest and most elegant new place in England
- Location: Gomm Valley, Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
- Client: Human Nature with Aviva Investors
- Collaborators: Mae, Periscope, New Makers Bureau, Kjellander & Sjoberg, Expedition, Urban Movement, Ecology Solutions, RUA, Alder King, The Landscape Partnership, PEP, Savills
- Status: Outline Planning Application submitted
- Size: 1,000 homes, 50 hectares
- Website: gommvalley.com/
Little Haldens (meaning ‘secluded valley’) is a plan for a super-green extension to the eastern edge of Wycombe. Organised as three characterful ‘villages’, connected by a country lane and designed to flow along the contours of the western slopes of the valley, Little Haldens nestles into its host landscape. The scheme benefits from a lovely public square with school, cafe, workspaces, community facilities, EV car and bike club and other ancillary sustainability features. The valley floor and edges will be regenerated as chalk grassland, with 4,000 new trees planted and an extra 1km of hedgerows, leading to a significant increase in habitats and biodiversity across the valley.
The proposals are founded in an amalgam of Human Nature’s values and Impact Framework, the Local Authority’s development brief and a suite of bespoke design principles flowing from these:
Development brief: High-quality mixed-use development comprising housing, employment and community uses […] recognising the intrinsic character and beauty of the hillside landform [while] preserving and enhancing ecological value on the site with an environmental hub at its core. Delivering a diverse community with a mix of housing types, sizes and tenures; requiring a bespoke architectural response, with opportunities for exceptional architecture in key locations that benefit from dramatic views.
Standing the test of time: to create a palace that is sufficiently bespoke and distinctive, elegant and accessible, adaptable and resilient, to be cherished and stand the test of time
Mixed-use walkable neighbourhood: to provide a ‘spine road’ – a beautiful country street with a discrete, bike lane alongside – to a gradient of less than 1:20 to enable walking and cycling on the very steep hills to the western edge of the valley. To create a sufficiently compact development, with critical mass and connectivity to support a range of local services and facilities in a sheltered, accessible and lively public square.
Bespoke architecture and abundant greenery: the buildings suffused with strong vernacular influences, set into the landscape and enveloped by a living landscape of trees, hedgerows, green and cedam roofs, pocket parks, community gardens, green corridors and protected habitats.
Specials: 20% of the homes built here will be ‘specials’ or one-offs, recognising the need to celebrate key views, ends of terraces and other significant ‘moments’ in the plan. Not less than 5% of the homes will be self-commissioned.
Three Villages: one connected settlement (that also seeks to connect sensitively with adjacent places and communities) but manifest in three villages of distinctive character to address the very different conditions across the site.
Housing Choice: to offer generally smaller homes and many different types, tenures, designs and price points to enable market choice and a diverse community to live here.