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05-Mar-2018

Urban 'base' in the country

By ADP

By Justin Metcalfe

A MILITARY BASE ONCE CAPABLE OF WAGING WAR, IS BEING TRANSFORMED INTO A GROWING COMMUNITY

Village-like developments blend the best of country living with the benefits of a modern lifestyle. In Oxfordshire, ADP is working with Dorchester Living to transform a former military site into a new mixed use village centre that will create a community hub for existing and new residents.

The back story of the land is intriguing, even if you aren’t interested in military history. Set within 1, 231 acres of Oxfordshire countryside, RAF Upper Heyford played a pivotal role throughout military history. Built in 1916, it provided facilities for training air crews in the First and Second World Wars, and later served as a base for the United States Airforce during the Cold War. The father of Wayne Dobbins (one of ADP Oxford’s studio directors), was one of 15,000 American servicemen stationed there, all of whom built a close relationship with the local community. Upper Heyford was known as ‘Little America in Big Oxfordshire’ at the time.

The site was acquired by Dorchester Living in 2009, 16 years after the base was originally decommissioned. The vision was create the right mix of ingredients to cater for a diverse community of different age groups, with different economic characteristics.

ADP is responsible for developing the main buildings that create the Village Centreat the heart of the settlement area, which will provide amenities for both new and existing residents. Planning approval has been given for 1075 homes, 267 of which are existing military dwellings that once housed servicemen.

Village Centre North consists of accommodation arranged along the wide and tree lined Camp Road, which is the main east-west axis route through the site. The blocks will provide commercial and residential accommodation, with a mixture of shared ownership and affordable housing, a food store, and retail space. To ensure active frontages, commercial and retail spaces are located on the ground floor with apartments above. Projecting boutique style awnings at street level will also increase activity and movement.

A steel framed glazed market and cricket pitch in the Village Square will provide the opportunity for community participation and gatherings. ADP is also delivering Village Centre South that will provide a hotel, a pub, bars, a restaurant, a bowling alley, private function rooms, a gym suite, and 12 boutique hotel rooms.

The regeneration framework has combined the best of the past with sensitive new development, which has been designed to respect the distinctive architecture on the site. ADP also converted the iconic red-brick Officer’s Mess into a Free school, and an old military gymnasium into a sports centre. The history of the airbase is an integral part of the pupils’ education, and ‘houses’ are named after pilots. Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James and Eartha Kitt all once sang in what has become the school's hall.

From the outset the developer was keen to develop a long term legacy for the site, with a commitment to continued investment in the social and physical infrastructure. With old and new residents living side by side, creating a sense of place and providing amenities for the whole community was essential in ensuring social cohesion and long-term economic sustainability. Equally important was embracing the historic significance of the site to preserve the cultural memories of the generations of people who decided to settle there after the base closed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Justin Metcalfe

Justin Metcalfe

Justin has strong conceptual design skills and appreciates the benefits of collaborative working.

Having spent a significant amount
time studying bioclimatics,
sustainable design is one
of Justin’s key interests.

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