Linmere, a Healthy New Community

Our Town Planners, Masterplanners, Architects, Landscape Architects and Graphic Communication teams are working as ‘lead developer’ for Lands Improvement Holdings and their partners, collectively known as HRMC, on the Houghton Regis North development - a major sustainable urban extension.

Linmere, as the project is now known, is located on Green Belt land and bounded to the east by the M1 motorway and the new M1 J11A, to the south by the existing Houghton Regis area, and to the north by the new A5/M1 link. The new ‘healthy' development will provide up to 5,150 new homes, up to 130,000 sqm of employment floorspace, and up to 30,000 sqm of retail and leisure floorspace.

Linmere is an evolving, adaptable neighbourhood with a strong focus on social value, health and wellbeing. The landscape-led masterplan will see over 30% of the site - over 78ha – being given over to open spaces for sports, biodiversity enhancement, leisure, amenity and recreation, a move way beyond Central Bedfordshire Council’s traditional ‘6 acre’ standard open space provision. These green spaces and the wider masterplan have been designed to support the creation of walkable neighbourhoods, anchored by neighbourhood hubs incorporating a primary school, local centre and recreational uses such as a local park or square, providing a heart for the community and focus for social interaction and exchange. Public spaces have been designed to encourage and facilitate activity and opportunities to exercise by accommodating the widest range of activities for all users; from mothers with young toddlers to teenagers and the elderly and less able bodied.  Extensive open space is then also woven throughout to provide connected green pedestrian and cycle connectivity across the development.  

This project has involved extensive public consultation with the local authority, statutory bodies, key stakeholders, and the public. Our team has addressed feedback from this around the importance of Linmere being connected and associated with surrounding communities, by developing a single ‘shared campus’  amalgamating a new primary school with the existing Thornhill Primary school, creating a strong community hub literally ‘bridging’ between Linmere and Parkside. This approach has also been applied to the second Primary School location which abuts a future development site between Linmere and Parkside. This spatial move will provide a strong ‘seed’ for both the existing and new community to nurture a strong interrelationship and enable to communities to grow together.

A new community hub has also been created on the edge of Linmere Park. It’s striking and distinctive collection of buildings is modelled on a farmstead, and delivered in a contemporary agricultural aesthetic. The Farmstead provides flexible, animated spaces to house a cafĂ©, a community hall and site offices which will eventually become co-working space above retail units at ground floor.

Design Coding across the site was hugely important to Lands Improvement Holdings and their wider client team from the outset.

Since gaining outline planning permission for the scheme in June 2014, our team have worked closely with the client team to produce a sitewide design code covering five character areas; access strategies, landscape, public realm and built form.

To allow for Linmere to evolve and adapt with ease in the future, the design codes have been written to encourage the creative and innovative designs for blocks and buildings within the ‘neighbourhood hearts’. Flexibility in use is key to success long term, so moves such as taller floor to floor heights at ground level to ensure spaces can accommodate a variety of uses, have been employed.

Our team have been retained by the client to work with the selected housebuilder teams for the first phase of development to ensure that their respective designs and subsequent reserve matters applications are in keeping with ‘spirit’ of the design code to ensure that a high quality place is achieved in a consistent and homogeneous approach.

Check out our recent intelligence article where we take a look at some features within the Linmere masterplan, that were put in place to ensure that it offered social value and a created a healthy and sustainable community for people to live, work and play within, both immediately and in the future. 

CGI credit: Lands Improvement Holdings

Project Details

  • Outline planning permission for over 5000 homes
  • Identified as a strategic site for an urban extension in the Green Belt, and allocated in the Local Plan
  • Two new link roads
  • 78ha of new parkland and open space
  • New Lidl warehouse providing around 1000 new jobs
  • 130,000 sqm of employment floorspace
  • Up to 30,000 sqm of retail and leisure floorspace
  • First development parcels now sold and advanced infrastructure being delivered on-site
  • Two house builders already on site with the Primary School and the Farmstead set to commence on site by the end of 2020

Our team are also involved with the neighbouring site Houghton Regis Bidwell West.