Hethel

A new garden village for Norfolk and a plan for the UK’s largest carbon positive community

Key Facts

  • Location: Hethel, South Norfolk
  • Client: Human Nature with Glavenhill
  • Collaborators: Prior&Partners, Grant Associates, Periscope, White Arkitekter, EFFEKT, New Makers Bureau, KCA, MOLE, Practice Architecture, AKT11, Lanpro, WSP, Urban Movement, Atelier10, RUA 
  • Status: Planning promotion
  • Size: 25 villages forming 8 clusters
  • Number of homes: 6,000 (and 8,000 jobs)

Overview

Human Nature and Glavenhill have made a submission to the Greater Norwich Local Plan for a new ‘Garden Community’ at Hethel in South Norfolk. Our proposals are for c6000 new homes in a highly productive, regenerated, biodiversity-rich landscape, with radical affordability, carbon positive total footprint and exemplary sustainable transport.

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Project Principles

The proposals are founded in the following ideas and principles:

Radical Affordability: to provide c5000 affordable homes – i.e. at prices that ordinary families and households can afford – even as the place will also appeal to people who can choose to live wherever they like.

Raw+Craft: deploying H+N’s raw+craft philosophy and methodology to the design and engineering/construction of inherently adaptable houses that can establish super-efficient and inexpensive supply chains, simple yet robust and appealing forms of building with embodied planning that enables them to be added to and re-configured over time; the beautiful homes – available in several different typologies – will typically be constructed in engineered timber, assembled in kits made on site, and completed with by-hand, craft finishes.

Network of Villages: Hethel will be built as a patchwork of villages that are gradually stitched together over time to make the whole place. This enables speed of delivery, reinforces character and the genius loci of particular situations across the site, gives buyers (and renters) the early experience of belonging in a complete village context rather than a never-ending meta ‘development’ and grows social and community relationships from the outset.

A centre of destination attractions: In the early stages a suite of destination attractions will be created (per the diagram above). Each attraction will hold appeal to people – future customers – from far and wide rather than be dependent only on people living at Hethel itself. These attractions include a hotel, spa, well-being and conference/meetings; destination restaurant, food gardens and food hub; new re-wilded landscapes; the evolving town park; a visitor ‘white bike’ system that invites visitors to travel around the network of cycle lanes and to and from attractions by bike (including electric bikes and cargo bikes); a Field Studies Centre for Living World and Sustainability education; a Kids’ Extreme Zone for adventure fitness and play. Over time, these attractions will be woven into the town centre with a conventional, people-centred high street, apartments, offices, retail, a secondary school and so on.

Employment: Jobs will be provided in the on-site house assembly factories, in craft finishing, in renewable energy and other sustainable technology enterprises, in the sustainable food and farming economy and in the destination attractions. These will blend with the existing employment – already 3,000 jobs – in the innovative car plant, the Innovation Centres and at Goff. In time these elements will combine to make Hethel a go-to location for all kinds of purpose-led, stakeholder businesses and at different scales. Hethel also sits, well-placed, in the Norwich-Cambridge Tech Corridor.

Landscape Setting: to work with the existing mature landscape setting to reinvigorate habitats, make strategic ecological connections, re-wild where appropriate, enhance biodiversity and pioneer small-scale intensive regenerative agriculture for employment, food security, quality of life, and to demonstrate local farming and food culture adapted to a rapidly changing climate.

Resilience: this project will pioneer new approaches to public health and well-being, sustainable food and economy, construction and stewardship, inspiring and enabling essential resilience across the piece.

Intergenerational housing and place: Hethel will also provide a home for an exciting new intergenerational community and special care.

Super connected town centre
Illustrative Masterplan
Woodlands, Norwich by Periscope for Human Nature