Delves Court, Heanor, Derbyshire
New-build social housing redevelopment, to provide a mix of family housing and bungalows in Heanor, Derbyshire.
Letts Wheeler Architects worked with a local social housing provider to deliver this significant housing regeneration scheme on the edge of Heanor, a former mining town in Derbyshire. Futures Homescape are the primary social housing provider in The Amber Valley District and its housing stock is spread across a number of small towns and villages.
The site was occupied by an outdated and unpopular sheltered housing scheme, which the client planned to redevelop with new housing, designed to modern standards. Historically the site had been mined for coal, leaving a legacy of contamination, which required extensive remediation as part of this project.
The scheme was seen as a flagship project for the client and a limited architectural competition was launched in order to seek an architect for the project. Letts Wheeler Architects were invited to enter this process and won the competition.
The project subsequently went through a number of changes in direction before a final design was completed in 2017. The redevelopment consists of a mix of 2 and 3-bed family houses, together with 1-bed apartments and 2-bed elderly persons’ bungalows, all for the social rented sector.
The site lies on a steep south-west facing slope, overlooking a large recreation ground and country park. This physical aspect of the site informed the design, with the housing oriented across the site and stepped to take advantage of the views and sunlight towards the south.
An access route from the existing street bisects the site. Family housing is arranged in two terraces to the north part of the site, with the elderly persons bungalows situated to the south of the site. A three storey apartment block sits at the intersection of these two housing types, marking the end of the route into the site and forming a landmark, when viewed from the park, which it over looks.
The two rows of terraced, family housing form a courtyard, containing parking and amenity space for the residents. The bungalow housing, makes reference to traditional alms housing, formed around a simple, shared courtyard garden. A small ‘tower’ marks the entrance to the courtyard on the street.
A consistency of form, detailing and material treatments unifies the three distinct housing typologies across the site, creating homogeneity to the development. Materials included vertical stained timber, clay tile pitched roofs, and local red stock brick walls enriched with details to add interest and human scale.
Landscaping and external detailing was considered to be integral to the scheme. Existing trees onto the street frontage were retained, in order to give the scheme a mature feeling, integrated into its surroundings at completion. Stone gabions are used extensively to create steps across the steeply sloping site. Unfortunately much of the external detailing was subject to cuts in budget, caused by additional remediation costs encountered during the construction process.
The design does not make particular reference to the existing surrounding housing, however the design philosophy was to use forms and materials familiar to traditional housing, but implemented with modern detailing and composition. The overall result is a scheme that is not alien to its suburban context, but one that does create a distinct sense of place and a ‘landmark’ within its surroundings.