• 2010-03-16 - Newhall - Robert Halfon

    New to Newhall - but already smitten


    Robert Halfon, prospective Conservative MP for Harlow, is one of Newhall's newest residents, but has already fallen in love with the place and all that it stands for. Rob, and his partner Vanda, moved to Newhall in November last year, and his enthusiasm for their new home is boundless. "I love it. It's the best house I've ever had in my life. It's so unusual, so clean and open."


    Like many other Newhall residents, Rob and Vanda made an instant decision when they first laid eyes on their new house. "The moment we saw it, we wanted it," he recalls. As a Harlow and Roydon resident for many years, a Roydon Parish Councillor, and a passionate supporter of many important local causes such as housing, education, health and business, Rob of course was well aware of Newhall and the objectives of its founders, Jon and William Moen. "I think the Moen brothers are visionary. They have created something that really is like a village, but for the 21st century. It is unlike anything else around."


    Now that Rob and Vanda are settling in, he is able to experience at first hand the benefits of this cutting edge development. Many of its ideals chime with Rob's own, particularly those relating to the environment and community.  "I care deeply about the environment, sustainability and the countryside," he says, so Newhall's green spaces, areas of trees and inclusive ethos have special appeal for him. "Everything's done with great care at Newhall: the square, the trees, even the naming of the roads. It is a wonderful place to live."


    Rob's involvement with the town of Harlow is many faceted. He campaigns regularly about issues such as anti-social behaviour, policing and traffic congestion, and works with volunteers, councillors and charities to solve local problems. Despite the problems, his affection for Harlow is evident. "It is an excellent town in which to live. It has heritage, great shops, the countryside around it, and a good community spirit. I am proud to be a parliamentary candidate for it."


    2/ New to Newhall - but already smitten


    In many ways he sees Newhall as encompassing all that is positive about Harlow; the semi-rural setting, community life, unique modern architecture, peaceful atmosphere, the care and pride its residents take in it. But as well as all this, it is also home, and as Rob says; "It's so wonderful to come back to at the end of the day."


    There is a wide choice of ultra contemporary homes currently available at Newhall. All are designed by award winning architects, and Newhall as a whole is highly unusual, offering innovative modern architecture, and a relaxed green lifestyle in a real community. Amenities such as schools, shops and a restaurant are in the pipeline, and will help to establish Newhall further as one of Harlow's most desirable neighbourhoods.


    For further information please call the Sales Centre on 01279 416660 or visit www.northchase.co.uk



  • 2010-03-01 - Newhall - Self Build, George Hadley.




    George Hadley is about to achieve a long-held ambition. The 40-year old accountant is set to embark on a self-build family home at the award-winning Newhall development in Harlow, Essex.


    George, his wife Jo and two daughters, Jessica (7) and Katie (5) have lived in Waltham Abbey for the last 12 years, but this year they will be moving to a spacious new home designed specifically for them.


    George explains: "I've been thinking about building my own house for eight or nine years now. It started when I saw a couple of self-build magazines, and then bought a book on the subject. But when we had our first child, life was turned upside down for a while and the build was put on the back burner. But in the last year and a half, now the kids are a bit older and life is slightly easier, I started looking into it again."


    Once the search for a suitable plot was underway, it didn't take long before the Hadleys were attracted to Newhall, a unique and groundbreaking concept in residential development where the landowners commissioned a masterplan for the whole scheme, and then invited a variety of architects to design the different phases of development. The masterplan draws on lessons learnt from much-admired historic towns, creating a new place that is, above all else, wonderful to live in. Well-designed self-build homes are welcomed as a complementary alternative to the award-winning contemporary architecture for which the development is renowned.


    "I read an article in The Times about the self-build options at Newhall, and then when I was looking for plots in the Essex area on the internet, the Newhall sites came up again. So we researched the whole Newhall development some more, and my wife and I went up there to have a look. We had a really good feeling about the place, right from the start. The layout was excellent, it was well maintained, there's lots of green and communal space and a really wide variety of house types compared with a typical new-build development. Some of the house designs up there are fantastic - it's all very different, but you can see that there is a good build quality throughout," says George.


    The couple quickly put in an offer on a plot, which was accepted, and the long-dreamed of project became a reality. Even though the recession was at its worst, George was determined to press on, and with good reason. The average self-build home is around 30% cheaper than buying from a developer.


    When it came to choosing a design, fate - in the form of the Newhall community intervened. George says: "On our second visit to see the plot, a man approached us from a house a couple of plots along, and he turned out to be an architect named Alastair Howe. He lives in his own self-built home at Newhall and had already drawn up some plans for our plot, but the sale had fallen through due to the buyer's circumstances changing. We got on well with Alastair and worked with him on our own design. There are some guidelines and restrictions as to what you can build at Newhall and for our plot they were looking at what they called a two-and-a-half storey house, so the northern part of the house is three storeys, and the southern end is two storeys. This is to emphasise the street corner location of the plot.


    "So we had to work within a framework, but Alastair was aware of what the planners were looking for, and guided us through it. We combined that with our vision of what we wanted, we've got white render walls with black windows, for a black and white effect. Alastair has also helped us to maximise the space we could get from working within the set framework, by asking us lots of questions about how we would actually be using the house," he continued.


    The resulting design will soon be transformed into a 170 square metre family home with dual aspect windows in nearly every room. The upstairs areas will contain three bedrooms, a playroom with balcony overlooking the wonderful green space and two bathrooms, while downstairs there will be a living area, dining room, kitchen, utility room and conservatory.


    "We're hoping to move in by the end of September," says George. "The house will have a timber frame construction so should be a relatively quick build, and I'm confident we can stick to our timescale. I'm really looking forward to the build stage now. It will be great to see the frame finally going up after all these years of thinking about it."


    One of the reasons the Hadleys warmed so quickly to Newhall is the sense of community that the development encourages. "We looked at the masterplan before we made an offer, and it was very exciting to see what is going to happen, especially with the restaurant and community centre etc. It's a wonderful vision and we're getting in to the community spirit already - there are a couple of events over Easter, including an egg hunt which we're going to take the girls to. In a lot of communities people don't even know their neighbours, but I think Newhall is really trying to promote a sense of community."


    The infrastructure and transport links are another important factor. George says: "My journey into the City will be good. Harlow Mill and Harlow Town stations are only two and three miles away respectively from the house, and the train time is just over 30 minutes into Liverpool Street, which is where I work. And once we get the house built and move in, we'll start looking for a local school for the girls, who are both at primary school."


    For those looking for a 'ready built' house, the latest phase with properties currently available is North Chase.  Further information can be obtained by calling the Sales Centre on 01279 416660 or by visiting the website at www.northchase.co.uk



  • 2009-07-01 - Design for Homes - The Housing Design Awards 2009, Project Winner.

    The feted Newhall development in Harlow has struggled with slow production arising from some of its design complexity. A detailed code to unify some 3500 homes promotes local colours and crafts and an earlier scheme by these same architects included thatchers (Abode, Housing Design Awards 2004). The experience led the practice to rThe result is a rare example of market sale volumetric housebuilding on a greenfield site. It utilises the Futureform Building System, a monocoque steel construction. Modules arrive on site sealed and weather tight with a full internal fit-out. They are then stacked, roofed in clay tiles and faced in classic Essex white render before prefabricated porches, canopies and balconies complete the exterior elevations.ethink delivery of the code's aspiration for local materials and modern The aim is to allow customers to specify extensive internal variations in bathroom and kitchen fit-outs, but still have the homes ready at about 16 weeks from reservation. A prototype interior was unveiled in Spring 2007 and the architects invested in their concept, becoming a JV developer with Renascent Developments Ltd for the 78 homes.

    Launched as 'slo' (Simple Living Opportunities), the acronym soon reflected the market. A method of accelerating customisation to achieve a time-frame demanded by eager purchasers, found the market mired in anxiety and 16 weeks looking like a reckless dash. Part of the scheme has been pre-let to Moat, one of Harlow's affordable development partners. The rest grinds on and judges chose to reclassify the half-finished scheme as a Project.

     The houses deserve much better luck. The narrow 2-bed terrace houses draw daylight into their middle with an open plan and the stair at the centre, allowing light to pass either side. A lightwell over the kitchen also naturally illuminates the bathroom above, diffused through an opaque glass wall

    Courtyard houses at 107.5 m2 exploit the steel-frame to span expanses of fenestration at ground floor level, connecting living space with outdoors. A screened, covered outdoor area can be used to park bicycles and buggies and provides an outdoor 'room', adding to the sense of space to stretch out. Homes were all designed to be on average 5 m2 larger than standards introduced by English Partnerships in 2007, while construction trounces Building Regulations, achieving thermal efficiency only expected from changes due in 2013.

  • 2009-06-04 - The Harlow Herald - Newhall was proud to support Church Langley abseil fund-raiser


    The charity abseil at the Church Langley water tower has become a landmark event during the month of May, and this year was no exception.


    Organised by Harlow Tye Rotary Club and supported by local companies including Newhall, the visionary housing development in Harlow, the sum of �57,000 was generated over the weekend of May 2-3. This means that the event has now raised an excellent �508,000 for various charities over the last 12 years.


    This year Newhall fielded a team of 10 to take part in the event, who are proud to announce that they raised �3000 for breast cancer charity Breakthrough. The intrepid Newhall climbers included people from its sales team, PR agency and landscaping company.


    Head of sales and marketing Matthew Byatt, taking part for the second year running, said: "I came down a bit faster than I had planned! This is a really fantastic community event that brings all sorts of people together. In a way it's what Newhall itself is all about."


    The 2009 Charity Abseil attracted 235 entrants, who climbed the spiral staircase inside the 120-foot-high water tower, then abseiled down the outside. They were fully kitted out in safety gear and their decent was controlled from the top, but nevertheless it was quite an undertaking and everyone who took part is to be congratulated.
    It's such a local spectacle that the police have ordered that abseilers descend on the side of the tower not visible from the nearby M11, to stop drivers slowing down to have a look!


    Don Cramphorn, chairman of the Harlow Tye Rotary Club organising committee, said: "It's not just about us putting on the event, it's everyone else who makes it possible."


    There is a wide choice of architect designed, ultra contemporary homes currently available at Newhall. They range from one-bedroom mews apartments up to three, four and five bedroom family houses. All sectors are designed by award winning architects, and Newhall as a whole is unique, offering innovative modern architecture, and relaxed green lifestyle in a real community. Amenities such as schools, shops and a restaurant are in the pipeline and will help to establish Newhall further as one of Harlow's most desirable neighbourhoods. For further information please call the Sales Centre on 01279 416660 or visit www.northchase.co.uk

  • 2009-05-28 - Stewart Andersen's Property Blog - Energy efficiency begins at home

    Gordon Miller, editor of http://whatgreenhome.com/  looks at some of the eco homes that are available in the UK

    The findings of a comprehensive survey by Halifax Estate Agents reveals that two out of five homes in England and Wales (44%) rate 'average' for energy efficiency, falling into B and D of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which grades the energy efficiency of a house.

    New homes being built today, however, are at least a quarter more energy-efficient than existing older homes. At North Chase, Newhall in Harlow, Essex, the new mid-terraced houses have an average EPC rating of B, which only 1% of homes in England and Wales have attained. For all new house types at Newhall the EPC ratings exceed the average for all homes, as found by the Halifax Survey.

    North Chase, Newhall in Harlow, Essex

    The homes' energy efficiency is one facet of a broader sustainable agenda being practised at Newhall, set in the Essex countryside several miles from Harlow town centre. The design and layout of every street at the latest phase, North Chase, has been carefully considered to maximise passive solar gain that enhances the homes' natural light and provides super warm buildings.


    Additionally, sustainable and renewable materials have been used wherever possible in the construction of the properties, including timber specifically chosen for its insulation qualities. Using modern methods of construction, the houses are constructed off-site and erected on-site. The practise saves time, money and lessens CO2 emissions. Prices at Newhall start from �185,000.

  • 2009-05-01 - Hilary Castle for Moat Homes Ltd in Housing, Communities, Local Government - Moat hosts launch event at Newhall in Harlow, Essex

    On Thursday 30 April Moat hosted a celebratory launch event at Newhall in Harlow, Essex. The 40 attendees included local stakeholders, residents and Moat staff who celebrated the award winning development with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque.

    The plaque marks 1C at North Chase at Newhall winning the CABE Building for Life 'Gold' standard. Building for Life is a partnership between several national agencies and is the UK standard for well designed homes and neighbourhoods. New housing developments are scored against the 20 Building for Life criteria relating to environment and community, character, streets, parking and pedestrianisation and design and construction.

    Albertine Street at Newhall also won the first ever 'Moat Design Award' that recognises homes which are not only attractively designed but also show consideration for people's lifestyles. The judging team, which included Moat residents, had a difficult but enjoyable task determining the very best of an excellent range of new homes. Albertine Street in Harlow, Essex was unanimously agreed to be the best Moat development of the year.

    Attendees to the event enjoyed speeches by chairman of the Moat Board, Rosamund Blomfield-Smith, Moat chief executive, Brian Johnson and Moat's head of communications and sustainability, Caroline Field. The afternoon also offered a visit to the home of Newhall residents, Benson and Elizabeth Hazlewood.

    Newhall in Harlow, Essex is an exciting development that offers residents a combination of contemporary architecture and sustainable living. This imaginative development is the brainchild of the landowners, Jon and William Moen, who are lifelong local residents and founders of Newhall Projects Limited. The design approach behind Newhall is focused on creating a vibrant, mixed tenure community. Everything starts with the masterplan, designed by Roger Evans Associates, who were also commissioned to deal with the detail design of this scheme. Newhall received Homes and Communities Agency grant funding of over �400,000.

    Jackie Rose, Investment Manager for the Homes and Communities Agency, says; "A key role for the HCA is to raise standards, to set new quality, design and sustainability benchmarks for the industry and to improve quality of life by encouraging raised standards for the physical and social environment. The strong ethos behind Newhall is very much in tune with that."

    Moat's chief executive, Brian Johnson, says; "Newhall is an outstanding modern development and deserves the awards it has received. This launch event provided an opportunity for stakeholders with a vested interest in the scheme to take a good look around at the high quality, affordable homes on offer."

  • 2009-03-12 - Essex Enquirer - How efficient is your home?

    How efficient is your home?

    Just 44% of homes are rated average


    Only two out of five homes have a rating of 'average' for energy efficiency, according to latest figures.


    Forty four per cent of homes in the country fall into band D for energy efficiency, which is ranked 'average', according to a survey by Halifax Estate Agents who used the Energy Performance Certificate's (EPC) energy efficiency rating bands to show the energy labelling of domestic buildings.


    Just 1% of homes achieved the highest ranking of band A or B. Higher energy ratings mean lower energy bills, which is an important consideration in the winter months, especially given the recent cold weather.


    Since December 2007 all house sellers are required by law to provide potential buyers with a Home Information Pack (HIP). HIPS are required to contain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which grades the energy efficiency of a house. Since

    1 October 2008 landlords have also been required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate to tenants.


    Gordon Miller, founder editor of eco homes website whatgreenhome.com commented: "The findings of the survey underline what most people have long suspected, namely that our existing housing stock in England and Wales is highly energy inefficient.


    "This costs householders in terms of fuel bills and the planet in carbon dioxide emissions.


    "The government is attempting to encourage householders to make their homes more energy efficient through the introduction of free and discounted grants for the installation of loft and/or cavity wall insulation but one sector of the market - new homes - is already showing what can be achieved"


    Homebuyers who are determined to live in an energy efficient home there are developments like North Chase, Newhall in Harlow, where all new houses exceed the average band rating.


    The new mid-terraced houses have an average EPC rating of B, which only 1% of homes have attained.


    In addition sustainable and renewable materials were used where possible in the construction.


    According to Halifax if homeowners made further energy savings measures as many as 58% of homes in England and Wales could potentially achieve a band C rating and decrease their energy bills as a result.


    Louise Mackenzie

  • 2009-02-26 - Essex Chronicle - A greener take on modern living

    A greener take on modern living


    This new eco-friendly development in Harlow could help owners cut soaring energy prices.


    A new housing development near Harlow could be the answer for those who are looking to beat the big chill this end of winter as energy prices soar.


    A survey by Halifax Estate Agents has revealed that two out of five homes in England and Wales rate "average" for energy efficiency, falling into band D of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which grades the energy efficiency of a house.


    In comparison, at North Chase housing development in Newhall, Harlow, the newly built mid-terraced houses have an average EPC rating of B, which only 1 percent of homes in the survey have attained. For all new house types at Newhall the EPC ratings exceed the average for all homes in England and Wales, as found by the Halifax Survey.


    The homes' energy efficiency is one facet of a broader sustainable agenda being practised at Newhall, set in the Essex countryside several miles from Harlow town centre.


    The design and layout of every street at the latest phase, North Chase, has been carefully considered to maximise passive solar gain that enhances the homes' natural light and provides super warm buildings.


    Flats have the highest energy efficiency amongst different property types with almost half of flats classified as band B (11 per cent) or C (38 per cent). For all other property types, the largest proportions of properties achieve a band D rating, 47 per cent of bungalows, 45 per cent of houses and 41 per cent of maisonettes are in this band.


    Gordon Miller, founder editor of eco homes website whatgreenhome.com said, "The findings of the survey underline what most people have long suspected, namely that our existing housing stock in England and Wales is highly energy inefficient. This costs householders in terms of fuel bills, and costs the planet in carbon dioxide emissions.


    "The Government is attempting to encourage householders to make their homes more energy efficient through the introduction of free and discounted grants for the installation of loft and/ or cavity wall insulation, but one sector of the market - new homes - is already showing what can be achieved."


    New home being built today are at least a quarter more energy efficient than existing older homes. At North Chase, Newhall in Harlow, the new mid-terrace houses have an average EPC rating of B, which only one per cent of homes have attained. For all new house types at Newhall the EPC ratings exceed the average for all new homes in England and Wales, as found by the Halifax Survey.


    Additionally sustainable and renewable materials have been used wherever possible in the construction of the properties, including timber specifically chosen for its insulation qualities. Using modern methods of construction, the houses are assembled off-site. This saves time and money, and lessons C02 emissions.


    Prices at Newhall start from �185,000. For more information on the energy efficient eco-friendly homes for sale visit www.whatgreenhome.com





  • 2008-11-27 - The Harlow Herald - Another award for Newhall

    Harlow's architecturally inspiring North Chase at Newhall, near Old Harlow, has just won another award at the property industry's version of the Oscars, the What House? Awards.


    Last year it won Best House and this year the same scheme was awarded Bronze for Best Starter Home. At the gala presentation lunch on Friday November 21, in London's Grosvenor House Hotel, Harlow's cutting edge housing was commended by comedian Dara O Briain who presented Newhall Projects Ltd with the coveted gong for its 'B Type' flat, built over a garage, designed by Richard Murphy Architects.


    The What House? judges visited many starter homes in this category and commented about Newhall's entry: "This has been cleverly designed as a mews space that makes the most of natural light to create the most congenial living space possible.


    "The small garden terrace at the front of the flat is a nice touch. Built in a very affordable part of Essex, Newhall is a people-friendly space, where the car is relegated firmly to the sidelines."


    Known as a FOG - flat over garage, the award winning property is a two-bedroom mews apartment that positively relishes its elevated position over garages. Designed in a sharply angled wedge with high, steeply sloping ceilings, it offers huge volumes of space flooded with natural light and all the style and panache that will appeal to young professional buyers.


    Although a compact 700 square feet, the clever design creates a wonderful sense of space with plenty of light and storage.


    Access is via the private small terrace highlighted by the judges, and, going through the front door, one enters a cavernous open-plan living/kitchen/dining area. Next to it are the two bedrooms and the bathroom, linked by a wide corridor lined by large cupboards with sliding doors. Windows at all levels let the sunlight stream in and there are double doors opening from the living area onto the terrace.


    Newhall is the creation of brothers Jon and William Moen, who are Harlow landowners. Their idea was to break with the conventions of new homes' developments and build a new neighbourhood of architecturally stimulating, beautifully crafted homes, creating the country's first truly contemporary, architecturally lead development.


    As Newhall grows, amenities such as a restaurant, schools and shops will be added - indeed the restaurant will open in spring 2009. It is a place where community is vitally important: the people who live there will be encouraged to make a contribution to that community.


    North Chase has a range of homes: three/four-bedroom town houses; three/four-bedroom and four/five-bedroom two-storey detached garden villas, designed to make the most of the light and internal space and with almost totally private gardens; one and two-bedroom FOG mews apartments with private terraces like the award winning property; flexible live/work units for those who wish to work from home; and, soon to be released, five apartment buildings offering a variety of one and two-bedroom apartments and maisonettes.


    All the apartments have views over woods, parkland or the central square. There is also award winning shared equity housing and three mobility units.


    Prices range from �225,000 to �450,000 and further information can be obtained by calling the sales centre on 01279 416660 or by visiting the website at www.northchase.co.uk


    For information on Newhall as a whole, please ring the information centre on 01279 432331 or visit www.newhallproject.co.uk


  • 2008-11-11 - Hot Property Issue 620 - Take it Slo

    A new concept in house building, inspired by the slow food movement, has been developed by award-winning architects Proctor and Matthews. And the first examples are now being built at South Chase in Newhall.

    "Slo" stands for Simple Living Opportunities and these homes provide an alternative to the now-now-now lifestyle that is all too easy to fall into, prioritising relazation and appreciation of the simple aspects of home life. Stephen Proctor of Proctor and Matthews says, "A slo home looks for the antidote to the fast pave of 21st century life.

  • 2008-11-06 - CABE Building for Life - Moat wins Building for Life, Gold Standard Award

    Parcel 1C, Harlow
    Client: MOAT Housing Association
    Architect: Roger Evans Associates
    The layout of this development promotes a strong sense of community around the central courtyard and ensures good overlook onto communal and public spaces.

  • 2008-10-01 - Urban Design Issue 108 - Newhall, Harlow: Roger Evans reflects on how the new nighbourhood is unfolding

    Urban Design

    Autumn 2008, Issue 108


    Newhall, Harlow

    Roger Evans reflects on how the neighbourhood is unfolding


    Newhall is a new neighbourhood within Harlow New Town, originally planned by Sir Frederick Gibberd, and its masterplanners are REAL who have had a continuing involvement in the delivery of the project. The design and delivery of the new neighbourhood is, however, very different to the rest of the first generation New Town. The masterplan for Newhall precedes PPG3, current sustainability standards and introduced design codes at a time when they were not common. The ambition for the project has been to think through every aspect of a new neighbourhood from first principles and to persuade other to raise expectations and change the "rules". With around twenty percent of the neighbourhood now complete, it is an opportune time to reflect on what has worked or not.


    There are key decisions required at different stages in delivering such a project and these highlight ten essential requirements for a successful new neighbourhood:



    As the basic building block of settlements is the neighbourhood, this is the area within which everyday needs are catered for and within convenient walking distances. Site selection should therefore be informed by three considerations:

             Identity - whether the development creates or completes a neighbourhood and which facilities to be provided at local, district or town centre level.

             Connectivity - whether the site is located on principal lines of movement, which will be essential if missed uses and retail are required.

             Topography - where watersheds are important delineators of urban form, rather than ownership boundaries.



    Many key decisions are implicit in the site selection. If the site is not well connected it will form a large cul-de-sac however permeable internally. Different land-users will need to be located according to movement routes. Mixed uses may be ruled out if there are no connecting movement corridors to other neighbourhoods. Higher densities will be required along the busiest routes and where the commercial and mixed uses need to be located. The natural environment will need to link with the external landscape to create a green infrastructure which is meaningful and multi-functional. The sustainability of a scheme is largely a function of efficiency - of the masterplan and its architecture.



    Urban design is not just the art of designing towns but also about making thinks happen, and design quality depends on how a scheme will be delivered. The means of management and maintenance will determine what is viable, and the level of commitment from the scheme promoter, design team and local authority will dictate whether aspirations are translated into reality, or remain as warm words in design statement.




    So how has Newhall fared in this ten point process and what lessons can be learnt?



    Newhall is planned to be self-sufficient meeting the everyday needs of its 6,000 residents with primary schools, community facilities, employment, convenience shops and services, sports and leisure spaces. While the ambition has been to build so that the development feels complete at any stage, achieving this has proved difficult. The completion of the North Chase local centre in late 2008, with its shops, restaurant and apartments around a small square will at last give a focus to The Chase - the main avenue into the Phase I area. Phase II will provide a second focus to the neighbourhood with district centre facilities including a wider range of shops and purpose built offices.



    Harlow follows the first generation New Town pattern of neighbourhoods separated by primary movement routes and green spaces. Neighbourhoods remain introverted unless new movement corridors can be established to connect into the movement structure of the town. Planned new development around Newhall will provide opportunities to restructure movement routes within Phase II to site mixed uses better.

    Within Phase I, street intersections are special locations as this is where pedestrians want to cross and so most have been designed as pedestrian priority areas. Some form small informal squares with trees planted in their centres, requiring changes to highway adoption standards, new materials tested and new management regimes put in place.



    Newhall is contained within a bowl through which runs a valley: this spine and associated woodland is key to the landscape structure, with the rim of the bowl containing the neighbourhood. Development edges overlook the green spaces and as valuable frontages contain higher densities. One of the difficulties is delivering SUD's schemes in the UK is the insistence that rainwater falling private and adopted public areas has to be separated. Here it has been agreed to combine flows and much of the water attenuation in Phase II will be within street corridors.


    4.Mix of uses

    The ambition is to ensure that the neighbourhood is populated throughout the day and so working from home has been encouraged from the start. Rather than designated live-work units with the risk that the work space remains unused, the design code calls for ground floors of dwellings on streets around the local centre to be designed so that businesses could be accommodated. This is supported by the planning authority and it is left to market forces. The expectation is that as the local and district centres develop, the approach streets will change. There is also a requirement to accommodate two hectares of employment land. However, rather than creating a small business campus, it has been agreed that the equivalent number of jobs will be created through finer-grained mixed uses (in plan and section) around the centres. The local centre at North Chase is in the heart of the neighbourhood and as such locations attract little passing custom, in the short term they needed to be cross-funded by housing through devices such as turnover rents. The establishment of a caf�/ coffee shop and newsagent is expected to raise values in the wider area, and once there is a greater critical mass of development, these will be self-financing.




    5.   Density


    Measuring densities as dwellings/ hectare is not a meaningful way of setting built-form character. Here densities are measured as square metres/ ha and are between 3,900 an 5,400 sqm/ ha in Phase 1. The masterplan sets no limits on the density of each parcel; instead it is left to each architect to maximise the efficiency of the design by solving problems such as overlooking. There is however, a natural limit to density approaching 5,000 sqm/ ha assuming surface car parking, and conventional forms of construction and refuse servicing. In Phase 2, densities will be raised to 7,500 sqm/ ha along principal corridors and around special locations, by using split-level parking, a piped underground refuse collection system and construction techniques more commonly used by commercial developers.


    6.   Natural Environment


    The masterplan was developed before the requirement to prepare an environmental statement. However extensive habitat surveys were undertaken and having identified natural habitats including species-rich grassland, it was decided that forty percent of the site would not be developed. This area now forms the green infrastructure for the project and accommodates a balancing lake, reed beds, additional woodland planting and new habitat areas. Every dwelling is within 60 metres of this green network, and most visitors find the scale of the development relaxed, despite the significantly higher densities. No spoil has been removed from the site to date, but has instead been used in earth modelling and sculpture projects.


    7.        Efficiency


    Standards for sustainability have consistently been in excess of building regulation requirements at Newhall. As national standards have been raised incrementally, so standards at Newhall have been raised to be more demanding. The sustainability standards are delivered through the design code, attached to land sales by covenant. The initial building construction was SAP rating, replaced by Eco-homes standards ('very good') and now the Code for Sustainable Homes. The planning consent for Phase 2 will require Code level 3 but it is hoped to achieve level 4 on much of the development with some level 5 parcels. We do not believe Code Level 6 to be achievable in this location given current technology. The first aspect to be developed was part of the SUDs system comprising reed beds and a balancing lake. Improvements to the water quality at exposed water courses made along with advance planting, so that later development could sit amongst a maturing landscape. Perhaps predictably, wildlife moved in first and new development is now constricted by newly resident crested newts and other species absent before the advance habitat creation schemes were implemented.


    8.        Design quality


    The intentions of the masterplan are delivered through a design code, and this is viewed as the masterplan's working drawings rather than an architectural guide. The key concern of the masterplan is in delivering a legible, safe, and stimulating public realm. The code therefore controls building heights and massing rather than architectural style. Talented architects have been attracted to Newhall and have created contemporary designs which respond well to the masterplan. The subdivision of the masterplan into development parcels has been a critical design component, with the "seams" running along rear boundaries, except for in the more important public spaces but demands greater coordination and dialogue between architects. Achieving design and construction quality for the public realm has proved more difficult because of the connected streets, despite the Section 38 Agreement with the highways authority. To solve this, the design team, comprising urban designers, engineers, and utility planners, are seconded to each developer team and this has worked well.


    9.        Management and community governance


    It is essential to plan how a neighbourhood will be managed and maintained before starting design. Precedents such as New Ash Green pointed to all streets and sewers being adopted. A Residents' Association was formed to adopt and maintain green spaces and street trees, which the local authorities would not adopt, leading to greater use being made of planting. This will be extended to the landscape aspects of the Phase 2 SUDs scheme as well as the major part of the balancing lake. Resident Association fees are approximately �200 per year of all tenures and this includes broadband and cable TV. Puzzlingly, some residents still install satellite dishes, possibly for reasons of display!


    10.    Commitment


    There are three major considerations when building a new neighbourhood - speed, quality and cost. It is fairly easy to deliver on any two, achieving all three is harder. At Newhall it is the speed of development that has suffered in trying to achieve quality and with financial viability a pre-requisite. This has required huge commitment from the promoters of the project (who are also the landowners), the design team, individual developers and investors, and the local authorities.

    With Phase 2 about to commence on site, the imperative now is to gain speed while continuing to work on quality. For visitors to Newhall, the new caf�/ restaurant designed by ORMS on the square overlooking the park will be open for 2009 and should provide an excuse to linger.


    Roger Evans, Roger Evans Associates Limited (REAL)



  • 2008-09-20 - Architect: Richard Murphy; Location: Newhall, Harlow - Building Study: North Chase

    1. Flooring by Xylo
    The flooring selected for this project is an oiled rustic oak plank from the Xylo Prestige Collection. Oiled hardwood floors are less likely to show scratching and are easily repaired locally. The company says that the natural matt finish of the product adds and air of tranquillity which complements the modern interiors.

    2. Timber cladding by Finnforest
    ThermoWood is produced by a process involving intense heat. Finnish European Redwood is subjected to temperatures over 200 degrees to encourage chemical and structural changes that reduced moisture content. The result is more durable and stable than normal timber, with resistance to insects and fungal decay, a good choice for external cladding.

    3. Sanitaryware by Ideal Standard
    White and Silver by David Chipperfield are inspired by the relationship of geometric forms. The 12-piece White range of basins, baths and WC's has a sculptural simplicity; Silver, a collection of chromium-plated mixer taps for baths and basins, complements the White range with single-lever or dual-control mixer taps.

  • 2008-09-19 - Building Magazine - Happily Ever After

    The Gus Report: Newhall in Harlow set out to marry quality design with quality of life. So how has it done? Continuing his series of visits to important housing developments, Gus Alexander celebrates something approximating nuptial bliss.

    Fifteen years ago, the Moen brothers, whose family has farmed around Harlow since the year dot, made the decision to stop harvesting rapeseed and start building houses. The result is Newhall - one of the most lauded developments in the land.

    Listing Newhall's numerous awards could get repetitive: Cala Domus houses desgined by PCKO Architects won a gold Cabe award two years in a row; Ricard Murphy's houses for Newhall Projects were named Best House by What House?; the RIBA awarded gongs to homes by Proctor and Matthews and Countryside Properties; and the scheme also picked up a number of National Housebuilder awards. Given how much it has been praised, I thought it was time to have a look myself.

    Harlow is the classic suburban town. Sir Frederick Gibberd laid out the basic plan for most of what is there now in 1945, and the developers at Newhall have taken the best of Sir Freddies's intentions and tweaked and reinvented them. Whatever you think of Harlow town centre, a four-bedroom house costs an average �450,000, so the place is a success story as exercises in social engineering go.

    The principle is one of safe, green communities radiating from the centre. While green meant something slightly different in 1945 to what it does in 2008, the principal is the same. The Moen brothers were determined to present a well thought-out, long-term proposal and after interviewing a number of practices selected Roger Evans Associates (from Oxford) as masterplanners.

    Roger told me he had originally been asked to design as scheme with 300 houses. As the Moens already owned the land, Evans persuaded them they should plan a seriously long-erm development and seek consent for an entire community of 6,000-2,800 houses. After two public inquiries and despite the fact that Evans' proposals ran counter to some of the original Gibberd zoning initiatives, the scheme was passed in 1999, and the Moens set about developing it. They developed some it themselves and parcled out some of it to professional developers with strict, but not straitjacketed, design guidelines.

    The Spice of Life

    Nearly 350 of the first 500 houses have been built, many of which have been occupied for several years. Residents have already started moving houses with the estate as their families grow or their aspirations become more fundable.

    My first impression of the development is that the building types are all agreeably variegated and built to a high standard using traditional materials in surprising combination. This is the first time, for instance that I've seen a modern house with a thatch roof - and very handsome it looks too. However, there is rather more road at Newhall than I expected, although the impact is diluted by the absence of markings.

    Calming measures are quite subtle, leaving drivers unable to see directly across junctions, so people have to drive more carefully. "It becomes automatic," says Matthew Byatt, Newhall Developments' agent. "As soon as we turn off the roundabout at the entrance to the site, it's five miles an hour from then on in. Everybody does the same."

    There are relatively few garages, so there are quite a lot of cars around a lot of hard surface. "For the time being we're stuck with tarmac," Matthew says. Clearly, the impart will be less when there is more ground cover, and already the development is becoming less raw.

    Variety has been ensured by using different architects - Proctor Matthews, Richard Murphy, PCKO, Alison Brookes, ORMS, ECD, and Roger Evans' own firm. One Richard Murphy show home I looked at was definitely not a standard new-build house - four-storey, five bedroom, open plan, split-level, double-height spaces, granite worktops, sexy cream Marfill-tiled bathrooms, and a generous roof terrace as well as a garden.

    Attractive and apparently selling easily as a type, this particular house seemed well planned and well built, with a slate roof and expensive internal finishes. It also waves its green credentials around, with much better insulation than standard.

    However, I was even more impressed by Proctor Matthews' modular homes. Although in principle I like the idea of finishing as much work off-site as possible, in practice I have always been worried that site specificity - a crucial cultural factor in any piece of "place making" - will be lost by a one-size-fits-all attitude.

    I was prepared for the astonishing standard of finish that is possible once you take a tradesman out of a windy field and put him in a nice warm factory where Capitol Gold is more clearly audible, but the way in which space had been used was a revelation. It really demonstrated how well a courtyard house can be made to work, even in what most people would consider a not very propitious climate.

    The builder, Spaceover, cam to fame by fitting glorified site huts over car parks, but despite being basically a lot of steel containers stuck on top of one another, one was barely aware of the construction system at all.

    Most importantly, it seems to be working for residents. Gina Bailey, who has lived in the estate to three years, it absolutely thrilled with her house in Great Auger Stree. "When we first saw this house, we thought it was magic. It was so open plan compared with where we had been living before."

    Children - apparently quite safe from cars - are in and out of one another's houses like in a Just William story. Andrew, who moved in two months ago have liked the place ever since his sister bought a flat there. "I barely use the car. I can do to the supermarket over there on my bike," he says, pointing to a rustic-looking cycle path. "I bring everything back in a rucksack."

    Still waiting.....

    Not everything is idyllic, however. One of the pivotal elements in the scheme - the first commercial square - hasn't yet opened. A conversion of an old farm building as a community centre is planned, but is has not yet materialised. Due soon, the commercial square will offer shops, live-work units, office space and caf�. And, encouragingly, it is an unequivocally modern-looking building - none of the dead hand of the heritage brigade here.

    Another concern is the incorporation of passive solar spaces in many of the dwellings. This is a sort of half-indoor half-outdoor space that has glazed walls to the outside, glazed walls to the inside and space in between. This is obviously great for racking up eco brownie points, but the residents are clearly finding it hard to know quite what to do with it - not surprisingly, as it gets so hot. Some residents have the carefully placed wicker chair and the bamboo plant one would recognise from the architect's drawings. However, many owners seemingly can't find a better use for it than filling it with piles of old trainers and abandoned sporting equipment, or filling them with stacked boxes of office files.

    At Newhall, therefore, human detritus - usually squirreled away behind a tarpaulin in the back of the garage - is instead placed in what is effectively a beautiful glass display case bang over the front door.

    The development strategy at Newhall is an encouraging indication as to the future of Harlow, and there is plenty of flexibility built into the system, ensuring it will be able to cope with greener and greener house types. It certainly feels like something more than a housing estate. However it is still quite demanding terms of space, and as a housing prototype its not going to save the planet. Mind you, when Freddie Gibberd set down the ground rules in the forties, he probably didn't think this was going to be part of his remit.

  • 2008-09-14 - The Observer - Slow movement gains pace as architects inject soul into affordable new homes

    Jessie Hewitson visits a development that puts family life first

    The final straw came when McDonald's moved to open a restaurant close to Rome's Spanish Steps in 1986. A horrified group of campaigners picketed the fast-food giant - and while they didn't prevent McDonald's from opening, they did spawn a global movement celebrating all things unhurried. Over the years, somewhat ironically, the Slow Movement gathered pace, and sympathetic splinter campaigns have emerged. Slow travel, show shopping and even slow sex have all been campaigned for - and now there is a drive for slow building.

    Architects Proctor and Matthews are leading the way by launching Slo Homes, which stands for Simple Living Opportunities. "A Slo home looks for the antidote to the fast pace of 21st-century living - a place to relax and take time to appreciate the simple things of home life; says Stephen Proctor. "Slo homes refocus and celebrate domestic life around the heart of the home."

    "Its all about families getting back to cooking more, relaxing more and celebrating what is important in life," adds Andrew Matthews, Proctor's partner in the firm. "Kitchens are the centre of the house in the Slo home. We wanted to create houses that had more character and more light than the usual developer-led terraced boxes, which have no light and where the kitchen is buried."

    Slo homes have recently come up for sale in the South Chase phase of the Newhall development at Harlow, Essex, a 30-minute train journey from London. It is a development that is pushing the envelope in terms of building sustainable communities and eco-awareness - and clearly in tune with the beliefs of the Slo pioneers.

    A total of 30 two-, three- and four bedroom Slo homes are being built with prices starting at �269,000 for two beds and �355,00 for three-beds, with four-beds from �399,000. The first things you see on entering is a large wooden staircase in the centre of the ground floor. A large triangular space beneath is used as a breakfast bar, with shelving and appliances below. There is a lot of light - courtesy of double-height windows in the bedrooms and hallways. Covered courtyards encourage the use of outside space.

    This is not the sort of derivative new build you normally find at the more affordable end of the market - and the way the houses are built is new too, using a technique inspired by Japanese car-production methods. The houses are built off-site, complete with fitted kitchens and bathrooms, and then transported to the development and lowered into position. This keeps water and building waste to a minimum (just 10 per cent of the waste produced by normal construction methods), energy use is low and the sound insulation is good. The construction time is 40 per cent shorter than traditional methods - and it's cheaper too. The new Slo homes get three stars (out of six) under the new Code for Sustainable Homes, a government initiative to achieve zero-carbon homes by 2016.

    "This project is very architect-led," says Matthews. "You wouldn't get your Taylor Wimpeys or your other large developers doing this. Over the past 30 years architects have been pushed to the margins - in this development architects have been put back in the driving seat. It takes a special developer to take this on because it's raising the game. A lot of developers just want to develop for the lowest common denominator. Here we've got thatched roofs, lots of green areas and tress in the middle of the road to slow traffic."

    The Moen brothers, Jon and William, who are developing the land, having inherited it in the Eighties, have a clear admiration for architects - they have employed seven firms at different stages of the project, demonstrating a determination to create a development with soul. "We treat property development responsibly and with respect for the locale," says Jon Moen. "We've taken a long-term view, looking at how we can protect the environment and the wellbeing of our buyers. Every property will have a view of greenery and will be no more than 60 metres from a green space. We want generations of buyers to enjoy living here."

    Selling in the current market is a challenge, but the sales manager at Newhall confirms that while inquiries are down, buyers seem to be serious. A case of slowly but surely, they hope.

    For further information on Slo homes call 01279 416660 or visit the website at www.sloliving.co.uk. For details about Newhall, contact 01279 432331 or visit www.newhallproject.co.uk.

  • 2008-07-04 - Daily Express - Life in the Slo Lane

    An international campaign dedicated to slow living has come to the UK. The Slow Food movement started in Italy when people reacted against the opening of McDonald's in Rome.

    The manifesto they issued inspired several Italian towns to join to promote not just slow food but a whole set of sustainable principles that follow, including healthier living, support for local culture and rejection of globalisation.

    Now some of these same principles that have been given an architectural twist at Slo (Simple Living Opportunities) in South Chase, Newhall, Harlow on the Essex and Hertfordshire boarder.

    Slo has been conceived by architects Proctor and Matthews as a place to relax and take time to appreciate the simple aspects of home life.

    Stephen Proctor of Proctor and Matthews, said: "A Slo home looks for the antidote to the fast of 21st century life. Some of the properties have an attractive L-shaped courtyard design with a covered terrace - thus extending the living space, breaking the boundaries between the external and internal environments and providing al fresco lifestyle options not normally found in houses of this price."

    Slo homes for sale at South Chase, which feature a selection of terraced, semi-detached and detached houses, are priced from �269,000 for a two-bed house, �355,000 for three beds and �389,000 for four.

    The initiatives undertaken to provide a more considered way of life are extended to environmental concerns too. A range of eco-friendly measures such as high-performance thermal insulation, reduced water wastage and reduced pollution during building, thanks to off-site construction, have been introduced.

    In a selection of homes, ground source heat-pump and other renewable energy technologies have been incorporated, significantly reducing the heating and hot water costs cycle to around �250 per year for a typical two-bedroom house.

    Additionally clever and extensive use of glass at the homes has the dual benefit of providing passive solar gain (which reduced the need for heating and electrical lighting) and ensuring the look contemporary and stylish too - as do all homes on the larger Newhall development.

    Newhall, conceived by brothers Jon and William Moen, is three miles from Harlow and has a remit to create architecturally stimulating homes while protecting the environment and enhancing the wellbeing of residents.

    The combination has proved a winner with architect Ron Smith and his wife Mariette, who have moved from Muswell Hill, London. Despite continuing to run his practice in Shoreditch, London, Mr Smith could not be happier.

    He said: "The architecture is excellent, and so is the general arrangement. We like that it has open spaces and doesn't feel all crammed together.

    "When I come home from London in the evening it just lifts the spirits to see it all."

  • 2008-06-27 - Planning Magazine (20) - Newhall masterplanner parcels up design codes

    Newhall masterplanner parcels up design codes


    Project: A high-density urban neighbourhood in Harlow, Essex


    Background: Harlow new town was conceived as a number of interlinking neighbourhoods of up to 10,000 people separated by green areas and connected to the town centre through public transport and cycle routes. The Newhall community fits into this structure.


    Who is behind it? Landowners Jon and William Moen, urban designers Roger Evans Associates, Essex County Council, Harlow District Council and a number of developers.


    Project Aims: To create a sustainable, well-designed neighbourhood with convenient community facilities and pedestrian-friendly streets.


    Skills Involved: Architecture, urban design, design coding, transport planning, sustainable design and construction, partnership working.


    When landowners Jon and William Moen began formulating plans for a new community on the edge of Harlow in Essex, they were inspired by the vision of architect-planner Sir Frederick Gibberd, who in 1947 produced the design for the new town.


    "Gibberd designed the town as a series of neighbourhoods, each with a district centre and separated by green wedges running in from the surrounding countryside," says Jon Moen. "We have set out to preserve that tradition."


    The Moens, whose grandfather once farmed the land now earmarked for the development, drafted in Roger Evans Associates to produce a masterplan for the scheme. Central to the brief was the overarching aim of retaining as much of the 110 hectare site as possible for green space.


    "We have gone for densities promoted by current planning policies - 40 to 50 dwellings per hectare - but kept 40 per cent of the land open, so no house is more than 60m from green space," Moen explains


    Another central goal of the masterplan has been to create an environment geared towards pedestrians. According to practice principal Roger Evans, this required extensive negotiation with Essex County Council before approval because it involved the use of non-standard traffic layouts and road junction designs.


    "Junctions are the most popular place for crossing the road, but in many developments they are also the most dangerous," Evans explains. "So we've created small squares or courts at junctions with trees in the middle, where people are encouraged to linger. All of that has meant agreeing specific geometries and details with the highway authority."


    To accompany the masterplan, Evans's team also produced a detailed set of design codes to ensure consistency throughout the development. This is because the Moens have divided the site into small parcels, each with its own developer and design team.


    The design codes govern a number of aspects of the masterplan - the massing and height of buildings, the use of colour, materials and energy efficiency standards. "We din not want the overall scheme to fall apart because of the variety of architectural styles," says Moen.


    Evans says sustainability standards have been a particular priority. "We have set higher standards than current building regulations," he explains. "They are enforced through the design codes that the developer will have to show that they have met. It means the project can be marketed as a low-energy development and people can be sure they are buying well-performing houses."


    To maintain the overall coherence of the scheme, the landowners and masterplanners have retained the right to sign off the design of individual schemes as they come forward for planning approval. "But having engaged good architects, the philosophy is that they still have considerable freedom of expression providing they work within the masterplan and code," Moen says.


    The first phase of 500 homes has now been largely completed. The second, much bigger phase of 2,300 is due to get underway shortly, Moen says, pending resolution of the section 106 negotiations.


  • 2008-06-04 - Evening Standard Homes and Property - Award Winner

    Newhall, a new settlement in the making in Harlow, Essex, has already scooped several architectural awards and is now leading the way on green design. Eventually there will be 2,800 homes, built to a strict overall design code, which includes pedestrian friendly zones and ecological planting - woodland, hedgerows, streams and lakes.

    Rather than grid-like streets; there are curvy tree-lined roads with verges. Buildings have projecting bay windows and conservatories, domed and steep-pitched roofs; copper, steel and glass facades mix with timber-clad walls, Welsh slate, even thatch. Many of the homes have penthouse-like qualities with double-height space, spiral staircases and extensive glazing.

    Costume and theatre set designers Ian Griffiths and James Cotterill live in a triplex penthouse with vaulted ceiling.

    "It's boldly contemporary, which appeals to our artistic character," says James, who works from home and enjoys the rural tranquillity of the development.

    The latest phase of homes is called SLO (Simple Living Opportunities), a joint venture between architects Proctor and Matthews and developer Spaceover, which says the 30 cheap-to-run homes (�250 a year) are "as close to zero-carbon as you can currently get".

    The design is not much a back-to-nature approach but a celebration of domestic life around the heart of the home - the kitchen - says architect Stephen Proctor. Flexible, open-plan interiors make use of every space; staircase and hallway areas feature shelving and seating, plus there is an L-shaped courtyard.

    Prices start at �269,000. Call 01279 445 971

  • 2008-04-01 - BD Magazine - Right Angles

    Richard Murphy's challenge in designing four house types of Newhall in Essex was to offer generous space indoors and out without upstaging the neighbours.


    Asked about design inspiration for this four new house types at Newhall, Harlow's answer to Borneo Sporenberg, Richard Murphy mentions Peter Aldington's courtyard home at Haddenham, Buckinghamshire, ad Jorn Utzon's take on the same concept at Fredensborg, Denmark. In other words, homes that provide residents with an outside experience without being too greedy for space, and introspective housing that still takes its place in the community.


    But on the ground the precedent seems to be taken from a rather more prosaic source: the Barratt pattern-book townhouses built up the street. While Proctor Matthews has filled the intervening site with exuberantly three-dimensional facades and a paint box of colours, Murphy has remixed Barratt's yellow stock brick and quasi- Georgian flat facades into a contemporary and contextual design.


    Put both references together and you have the keys to Murphy's approach at Newhall. It's partly about avoiding architectural one-upmanship. "I think you have to careful with housing; generally, it's background," he says, "You can inflate it into being something else in an urban context, but in a suburban site in Essex, I think you want decent background buildings, not showpiece architecture."


    But the practice is also concerned to maximise outside space and residents' privacy. Detached houses have been creatively arranged with large gardens bounded by tow freestanding walls and the neighbour's rear wall. "It's the most generous amount of garden on the site." Murphy says proudly. The plan of the townhouses has been jigged to create larger gardens that their Proctor Matthews neighbours, while a spacious second floor terrace is shielded by side walls.


    The practice's townhouses, detached houses, apartments and mews flats make up the bulk of the fourth phase at Newhall, developed by the Moen brothers as a challenge to every dreary, derivative apology for mass housing. Known as North Chase, the built out development will also feature flats by ORMS, ECD's flats and live-work units, and affordable housing by Roger Evans Associates, the practice responsible for the masterplan.


    The four house types share a deliberately limited material palette, varying the themes of yellow brick, grey Welsh slate and dark stained timber cladding, a nod to the local Essex vernacular. There is a selection box of Rationel windows: corner positions offer views and supervision over the street, high level clerestory tope light the interiors; low level lights and projecting bays are complete with window seats inside. Likewise there is a common theme to the roof profiles. The townhouses and a yet-to-be- completed block of flats have rakish monopitch hats, while the villas and mews flats have a typically Murphy detail in the "kung fu" section, where opposing roof slopes overlap, creating a clerestory strip.


    The internal finish and specification, from the Ideal Standard bathroom fittings to glossy Xylo timber floor and the Pepper Kitchen, aims squarely at "masstige" - a prestige look on a mass-market budget. "We're trying to do a modern specification but without the really high cost, top of the range pieces - it's important to show you can do it," says sales and marketing manager Matthew Byatt.


    The townhouse feature a ground floor study/ spare bedroom with a bathroom next door. "If the brief is four or five bedrooms, it's always a good idea to have one bedroom separated from the others that doesn't interact with family life," Murphy argues.


    But he also accommodates family life with a roomy, high-ceilinged kitchen/ dinning room with plenty of space for a sofa and a wall mounted plasma TV. A stairwell slotted with light and animated with cut-outs leads to the first floor reception room to the front, two bedrooms to the rear, and a stylish bathroom that features a sanitaryware range designed by architect David Chipperfield.


    The first floor living room was supposed to have had a floor-level slot window giving onto the kitchen below, another of Murphy's repertoire of window details. But Building Regulation apparently put paid to the idea, and the resulting recess behind the sofa is rather unsatisfactorily described as "storage space".


    It's the kind of issue that the practice was denied the chance to resolve: the contract went design and build after stage E. "Under a traditional contract, when the design's at working drawings stage, you're still having ideas, inventing. But design and build cuts out a degree to invention," Murphy notes. However, the survival of cut outs in the stair wall and the contemporary detailing of doors and skirting suggest his design was in safer than average hands.


    On the top floor there's a dramatic second floor master bedroom with a triangular window that takes full advantage of the gull-wing roofline, and sliding doors onto an external decked terrace, an invitation to linger over summer breakfast.


    With the detached houses, the practice appears to have invented a new house type - updated Viking long house, perhaps. Murphy describes them as lying with "their shoulders to the street", presenting a gable end animated with corner windows. The houses are the width of one room and a corridor, which on the ground floor leads on to a study/ bedroom, cloakroom, galley kitchen and reasonably large living/ dining room.


    Upstairs are three double bedrooms lit with the kind of clerestory slots, slits and triangular windows that are perhaps easier to admire than buy curtains for. But the effect in the hallway, even on an overcast day, is of changing and uplifting top light.


    Newhall, a 10 minute drive from Harlow Station, is built to accommodate 2.5 cards per property. But Murphy keeps at least some of the cars neatly out of sight thanks to his modern interpretation of "mews" flats sitting above a triple garage. Reached via external stairs - a Murphy touch designed to animate the street - the one and two bed flats are light, spacious and finished to the same high specification as the houses.


    But the parking ration points to gap where there could have been an eco-exemplar. Newhall has never been promoted as an eco-project, and in fact the Moen brothers' description of it covers every touchstone of the current design agenda - design codes, density, public space, community - without explicitly mentioning environmental sustainability.


    The homes have been rated a perfectly respectable Ecohomes "very good". But prospective buyers of North Chase homes completed after May 1 will be given certificates of their home's sustainability profile under the Code of Sustainable Homes. It seems a pity that a development that's a flagship in so many ways couldn't set a higher standard on sustainability.


    Walking round North Chase, the masterplan is expressed in curving streets, oblique views and a slightly higgledy piggledy feel likely to appeal to some buyers more than others. Murphy himself appears ambivalent about Roger Evans' streetplan, saying he would have preferred it to be more "hierarchical", with fewer roads and deeper plots.


    But even with these reservations over the masterplan and the eco-performance, Newhall is still a remarkable achievement by the Moen brothers. And in Richard Murphy Architects' four new house types, the developer has commissioned residential design where every window detail, stair niche and garden points up the lack of ambition elsewhere in the sector.




    "People will pay 15-20% above local values"

    Will Moen, director and Jon Moen, project manager, of Newhall Projects


    Each of the three parcels developed so far at Newhall has a mix of units from large family detached houses to small flats. It's important to us that the whole development isn't made at the whim of the market but evolves in a proper mixed community. There are large continental-style family flats and small affordable terraced homes.


    Overall Vision

    We had long discussions with the architects to make sure they conformed to the overall vision. There's a tendency for architects to look just at their own patch.


    Because we're developing the fourth parcel ourselves, we really want to show what you can do. The contractor William Verry, obviously wanted to do certain amount of value engineering, but we had a series of meeting with them and the architect, and developed compromises.


    Higher Costs

    Despite all our efforts, its true the build cost here is higher than average. Because we're creating a good environment, it's becoming a district people want to live in and are prepared to pay 15-20% above local values.


    We get the young managerial and professional families who like and appreciate modern architecture. And we're getting people who remember the dawn of modern architecture in the sixties and seventies that never happened retiring here.


    We're making provision for cars above normal standards because we accept people will have cars. But we encourage pedestrians with the street layout, and we're paying for a dedicated bus route to Harlow.




  • 2008-03-13 - The Harlow Star - Developer Grows More Creative With Art Funds

    Fine arts have been given a new financial foundation with the latest sponsorship coming from the town's most innovative developer.


    The Gallery at Parndon Mill will now receive patronage from Newhall, the group responsible for the architecturally eye-catching development to the east of Harlow.


    The link will mean potentially thousands of pounds being made available to host exhibitions and bolster the work of artists and craftspeople resident in the gallery off Elizabeth Way.


    Anne Allanson's current exhibition Mixed Moods is the first to benefit from the partnership, being located in Newhall's Project Centre.


    Gallery founder Sally Anderson said: "The centre's light and airy space has provided the perfect venue to show the larger works."


    "The gallery is working to create greater synergy between business and the arts, and this sponsorship does just that."


    She added: "There is a natural analogy between the architecture of Newhall and art as the development has a refined focus on the quality of line, form, structure, texture and colour - much of the area of focus for the artist."


    Newhall landowner William Moen said:  "Newhall places design and creativity at the top of its priorities for creating a thriving new community. The aesthetic is of primary importance, whether it be the use of national award-winning architects or of locally relevant colour and materials - we think the creative process comes first."


    "While art will eventually become an integral physical part of Newhall, as it already is throughout the rest of Harlow, it is also important to us that Newhall becomes associated with its local art community and artists.


    "We want the exceptionally high standards of contemporary architecture at Newhall to become the backdrop for equally exceptional art."

  • 2007-12-07 - Hot Property - For the first time

    For renters looking to buy, 2008 may spell success.  With a range of high-quality, well-priced apartments, first-timers will find a lot to like in the current market, says Johnny Turner.

    In the somewhat gloomy news coming out of the property market these last few weeks, one segment of prospective buyers can find a silver lining.   First-timers can be forgiven for feeling abandoned: with the ratio of average salary to average house price stretching as high as 1:9, what can we expect new buyers to do but hope the whole thing has to reboot?

    Fortunately, in the new homes market there is quite a lot of choice, along with some attractive new buyer incentives.  Beautiful, functional design is the watchword of the ambitious Newhall project near Harlow.  Here, a range of well-regarded architects are providing homes with smart designs, plenty of space and a stunning finish.  These homes are great for a range of buyers, from first-timers to families.

    The location is the starting point for family-friendliness.  Newhall's setting, after all, is where the creators, Jon and William Moen, grew up.  The sense of responsibility they feel to their family's land is palpable, with echoes in the thoroughness with which they approach every aspect of the development.  This is designed to be, above all, a community.

    The end result will provide over 2,300 residential units, plus retail units, a school, community facilities and a top-notch restaurant. Wonderful green space is evident throughout this desirable, eco-friendly location.

    Two upcoming releases at North Chase spell good news for first-time buyers.  The ZigZag is a collection of one- and two- bedroom apartments and live/work units, ranging in size from 517 to 1,152 square feet.

    Also, Corner Place, designed by ECD of London, is a stylish apartment building which will comprise one- and two- bedroom apartments and homes with work/living spaces.  These are perfect homes for those who want flexibility, including the option of working from home.

  • 2007-12-01 - What House? Awards, Gold Guide 2008 - Best House, Newhall Projects

    " We consider the What House? Awards to be the Oscars of the housebuilding industry. It simply doesn't get any better. It is recognition of the quality of our project and great motivation for our sales team. It is also public recognition of our vision to create a vibrant new community at Newhall.


    If we were to win again in 2008, we would be delighted, but we are not complacent. With the breadth of architecture at Newhall we are hopeful that we will have another innovative house to enter.


    As a result, we are looking forward to entering the award again this year. We are also delighted to be entering the affordable and apartment categories.


    We are nearing completion at North Chase and we have South Chase coming up which includes schemes by SloLiving and Galliford Try Linden together with five self- build units. All of these are candidates for future entries. We have discovered that there is continuing demand for architect-led design to create a sense of place where residents can genuinely feel at home. We are also proud of our customer service - it is the drive to quality!


    However, in order to see quality improve across the board we need to see two things. Firstly, a faster and more streamlined planning process, and secondly a consistency from government to allow the private sector to build in a creative response to the needs of the homebuyer. There are currently too many initiatives which are giving different messages to the market. "

  • 2007-11-09 - Solutions: Offsite Construction - The Secret behind Newhall's closed doors

    Proctor & Matthews has applied modular construction methods to low-rise family homes in Harlow, not only designing them but acting as developer as well, reports Pamela Buxton.
    It's quiet - eerily quiet - down at the construction site for South Chase, the �9 million development of suburban homes designed by Proctor & Matthews at Newhall, Harlow in Essex. Despite a conspicuous absence of people and skips, the 78-unit  development is coming on apace due to the speed of its modular construction  - the first time, says the architect, that such an approach has been applied to family homes rather than apartments.

    Muffled up in green and grey envelopes, the units sit in neat stacks - two make a two-bed house while five of varying sizes are needed to form the largest four-bed units.  On the outside, they await their outer walls and roofs, but inside they are completely fitted out, right down to the kitchen surfaces and television cabling.

    The driving force behind the development has been Proctor & Matthews, not only as architect but also as joint developer.  Having worked extensively with design-and-build firm Spaceover to create modular apartments, the practice  was on a mission to extend the application of such off-site construction methods to high-density, low-rise family housing of up to 70 units per ha, although at South Chase the density is nearer 50 units.  It had been researching this idea, branded as Simple Living Opportunities, but had realised that to get it built, it might have to take things into its own hands.

    "We think we have a product that fills a gap in the market for small family houses," says Proctor & Matthew director Steve Proctor.  "Rather than drive costs down further, we wanted to use offsite construction to get a better house and a much more exciting living environment."

    Proctor & Matthews introduced Spaceover to landowner Newhall Projects, which had already commissioned the practice to design earlier phases at the site.  When a suitable land parcel came up, Proctor & Matthews and Spaceover bid for it. They did this initially with a developer partner, but ended up taking on the �9 million project themselves.

    Newhall Projects had sampled various procurement methods since it began developing the land 15 years ago, and was keen to try offsite methods.

    "We didn't want the design to look obviously modular," says Jon Moen, director of Newhall Projects.  "The houses make architectural statements in the way they've been clustered and clad, and the quality of finish and workmanship is exceptionally high.  It's very unusual and experimental. We'll be very interested to see how the market reacts."

    Crucially for potential buyers, the Spaceover building system is one of only two modular systems that has the BRE certification LPS 2020, making it both mortageable and insurable.

    Although swift construction on site is a key advantage, plenty of time goes into working with the manufacturer at the planning rather than the construction stage. At South Chase, 10 different modules were developed to cater for the range of house and apartment types.  In many ways, says the architect, it's more like product development than the normal architectural process, with no more constraints than conventional housebuilding methods - except for the size of the trailer, which governs module size.

    Proctor & Matthews enjoys the greater design control this method brings.  "With housebuilders, it's always difficult to get the quality - we're constantly fighting to get the working drawing packages. With this, the design is done up front, and you get the continuity," says Proctor.

    It's a completely different construction process to traditional methods.  First, the frame is constructed using light gauge cold-formed steel, 65% of which is recycled from old cars.  Frames are made under licence by Ayrshire Metals in Daventry, Northamptonshire, and transported to Rolalong in Dorset to be lined, plumbed, fitted out and finished under factory conditions, which allows greater quality control.  However, the rigid frame means there should be no shrinkage or cracking in the first place.  If needed, three or four house frames could be built in a week, and six fitted out in another.

    The homes show a 62% reduction in C02 emissions compared to typical dwellings, according to a case study by the sustainability arm of Price & Myers of Proctor & Matthews' show home, which was on display at BRE's Offsite event.  Price & Myers rated the show home as Code Level 3, with potential for Level 4 if photovoltaic panels were to be added.  This performance is due to high levels of thermal insulation and air-tightness, low-energy lighting, the use of green energy and a high-performance ground source heat pump heating system.  According to Spaceover director Tony Fox, predicted running costs for heating and hot water are around �250 per year.

    Modules arrive by lorry and are lifted onto pre-prepared positions by crane.  At South Chase, it took just two days to install eight two-bed houses. Then the outer block-work will be built up with a variety of finishes including various coloured renders, brick, timber boarding, and hung clay tiles.

    "People aren't necessarily aware of the construction, but they are aware of the value for money and the quality, says Spaceover's Fox.

    Internally, the architect's main concern was to place the kitchen at the heart of the home - literally, in the case of the two-bed homes - where it is between the two open-plan reception areas, with a breakfast bar tucked beneath the stairs.

    "Everything revolves around it," says Matthews.  "We wanted to re-focus the house around a place where you'd want to linger."

    Importance is given to the introduction of light into the centre of the house through a void, with the upstairs bedrooms and bathroom looking onto this mini "courtyard". In larger houses the void is replaced with an en suite, and light is brought in through windows onto a side courtyard.

    "A courtyard format gives us a higher density and is much more pleasing," says Matthews.

    Inside the show home, there is no hint of the construction method, with solid oak stairs and floors.  At 78sq m, the two-bed house exceeds English Partnership's new minimum space standards (News November 2).  Stacking the modules gives a double layer of insulation between floors to improve soundproofing, and there is also scope for floor cavity storage.

    The swift timescale is almost too fast for the selling process, but that, says the architects, is one of the few drawbacks of the offsite route, along with the difficulties of finding another BRE-accredited factory if anything went wrong with the supply chain.

    South Chase is one of the latest land parcels to be developed at Newhall.  Buildings by Richard Murphy, ORMS and ECD are coming out of the ground, and an Alison Brooks' scheme is planned next door.  Although so far South Chase if the only offsite development,  Newhall Projects doesn't rule out further applications.

    Setting up as a developer

    "It's scary," admits Steve Proctor of Proctor & Matthews of his role as architect and developer of South Chase.  Along with joint-venture partner Renaissance Developments (the developer arm of modular contractor Spaceover), Proctor and fellow principal Andrew Matthews have set up South Chase Newhall Ltd (SCNH) and raised �9 million to pay for the construction cost of the development. 

    Proctor & Matthews is by no means the first architectural practice to go into developing.  Residential practices such as Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects are old hands at it, but this approach is more unusual for offsite construction.  SCNH has already sold more than half its units to Moat Housing Association.  These will be handed over next spring, and the rest will be built and released for sale in small batches.  The hope is that they will be sold out by spring 2009.

    The architect hopes for a return of 15-20% on its investment, depending on the market, but knows that another Northern Rock scenario could have a significant impact on when, or even whether, it can achieve such returns.

    Aside from the cash, Proctor & Matthews is keen to show the market that offsite can work for family homes, and hopes to pursue the concept - whether as architect or as developer as well - elsewhere.

  • 2007-09-20 - South East Housing - New Urban Design Manual Launched by English Partnerships

    From South East Housing News 20 September 2007


    A new urban design manual that sets out strategies for creating quality places and promoting community cohesion has been launched by the government's key agencies responsible for delivering housing and regeneration.

    The Urban Design Compendium 2 (UDC2),  published today by English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation, highlights leadership, integration, collaboration, long-term involvement and legacy as being the five fundamental building blocks of sustainable development.

    It also identifies the main barriers to good urban design and suggests examples for overcoming these, drawing on a range of exemplar schemes in the UK and abroad.  The Compendium is complemented with an intereractive web version also being launched today at City Hall in London, as part of Urban Design Week.

    Picture shows: New homes in Newhall, Harlow, demonstrating how character and identity can be given to a neighbourhood.

    Trevor Beattie, English Partnerships' Director of Corporate Strategy, said: "The first Urban Design Compendium transformed our understanding of what constitutes good urban design.

    "Seven years and 25,000 copies later we need the same transformation in our approach to delivery.  UDC2 is the first complete guide to the process of creating successful sustainable places.  It is a practical manual for project delivery and its impact will be measured in the quality of places it inspires."

    Steven Douglas, Acting Chief Executive of the Corporation, said: "Design quality is more important than even now, with the rise in delivery targets for new homes supported by over �8 billion in Corporation funding, to be carried forwards by the new Homes and Communities Agency in 2008-11.  Without a doubt UDC2 has a vital part to play in this context, continuing to raise the bar for design.  It backs the clear set of Design and Quality standards which must be met on all  projects, and will help create thriving communities supporting people as they live, work and bring up families."


  • 2007-08-08 - Homes and Property - Hotspot News

    This week on our website, homesandproperty.co.uk, we focus on historic Greenwich - now is the time to get into this investment area.  We tell you where to buy and why it justifies its hotspot label.

    Newhall, on the outskirts of Harlow, is another place to watch.  We feature this showpiece village - where architects have created homes with a distinctly modern design twist that fit into the semi-rural landscape - which has already won several awards.  Londoners dreaming about a convenient commute should take a look. 

    The H&P shop is the place to visit for online bargain buys. You can save �60 on this stylish Portland console table (right, �379).  The matching mirror is �40 cheaper in our luxury-for-less shop than the price elsewhere, and could be yours for just �129.

    Plus:  see what's new in the capital's best homeware stores, plan a fantastic day out and search for your dream property.

  • 2007-08-01 - Show House - A New Age for a New Town

    As one of the original New Towns, Harlow is no stranger to forward-thinking development, but what will critics make of its latest neighbourhood?  David Hoppit visits Newhall.

    A bold and exciting experiment that is a vision of the future, or one that will be viewed as an anachronism in a few years' time - that is the question the house-buying public has to decide at Newhall, close to Harlow (not so New now) Town, in deepest Essex.

    If the enthusiastic comments of the pioneer buyers so far are anything to go by we have good reason for optimism.  Certainly, even in these early days of the experiment, there is already a feeling of optimism and community spirit there.

    On my third visit to Newhall, where I chatted with shadow secretary for the environment Peter Ainsworth, even a die-hard traditionalist such as I started to warm (ever so slightly) to the dramatic, clean lines of the street scene.

    Peter Ainsworth clearly had reservations about the housing developments that we saw in the last quarter of the 20th century.  Some of those culs de sac, he feared, may become the slums of the future.

    "We do need more houses and people deserve a stake in the future.  They must be sustainable, promote neighbourliness and provide a sense of place, with lots of green space and room also for those much-publicised crested newts" he confided. 

    "It's always sad to see a green field disappear, but if it has to happen this is most certainly the way to do it.  This development has what I call the 'wow' factor."

    He and the teams of architects involved in Newhall spoke of creating a market town atmosphere that made residents and visitors feel as though they were arriving on holiday.

    It's too early to judge, but once the square, with its "lazy Z"-shaped ground floor of shops and restaurants is completed (with bright dual-aspect flats above) perhaps that holiday atmosphere will indeed evolve.

    So what is the background to this scheme?  Back in 1992 a fourth generation of farmers and landowners, Jon and William Moen, decided to try to "break the mould" and build a diverse neighbourhood, bit by bit, using competition to challenge the architecture profession to come up with exciting, sustainable homes.

    The total area of the Newhall project is 280 acres, on which a community of 2,800 diverse homes will eventually sit.  These will include some low-cost houses and apartments and a few self-build units, all in tune with a master plan.

    In addition to the properties there will be shops and restaurants (one in an old barn), a neighbourhood centre, schools, a medical centre and a bus service to Harlow.  There's no mention yet of a church, but time will tell how residents' spiritual needs will be catered for.

    The idea is that all homes will be no further than 65 yards form 'green space', some 40 per cent of the entire area having been set aside for parks and wildlife reserve.

    It is an experiment that hit the headlines after John Prescott raved about the scheme and lent his considerable weight to it in 2003.  Since then builders and architects have continued to sing in the same key and have so far completed 300 houses.

    Also, the dramatic houses have scored Very Good in the EcoHomes rating.  Huge south-facing windows capture solar energy and water wastage is minimised.  There are ample bicycle stores, so there's no need to get the gas-guzzler out.  Where cars are necessary they are slowed by traffic calming kerbs and strategically planted trees.

    The latest phase on 127 units is named North Chase and the prices are between �225,000 and �450,000.  These are splendid homes, with lofty ceilings and an interior that gives an immense feeling of space, partly by cutting out sections of wall in areas such as the stairwell.

    The talk was of having space surrounded by building - of reducing or eliminating front and side gardens altogether to give maximum private space at the rear of properties.  They certainly have pleasant gardens, some of the larger houses having the added bonus of a large roof terrace.

    The acid test will be when the pioneer buyers come so sell - do they have what estate agents call 'kerb appeal' and can a contemporary, energy-efficient home ever make a potential buyer's heart skip a beat when they approach it?

    Local estate agent Barbara Brooker, of Howick and Brooker, in nearby Old Harlow, was  unsure.

    "They will never have the 'roses round the door' appeal of a thatched cottage, but modern buyers are more aware now of the benefits of modern houses.  I was nervous that they would not appeal when the first phase started, but now the resale prices are exceeding those of more conventional homes in the area," says Brooker.

    "Curiously it's not just the young and upwardly mobile who are enjoying the homes and lifestyle at Newhall.  We've had quite a lot of interest from retired people and one man in his seventies bought only last week."

    So maybe this really is the shape of things to come.  Just before he retired, Sir Lawrie Barratt, founder of the firm of that name, stood me a good lunch and we discussed the future.  He believed that developers would have to completely rethink estate design and that individual houses would make greater use of vertical space - that is to say, have lower ground floors, perhaps for parking or storage and extra storeys above, with more outside space above garden level.

    I wouldn't say I had a road to Damascus experience as I rounded the bend at Newhall but had I been arriving at my holiday home I would have had no complaints.

  • 2007-07-21 - Harlow Herald - New Phase at Newhall

    The latest phase of building at Newhall has been launched by Peter Ainsworth MP, Shadow Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

    The area called North Chase, will increase housing on the Harlow estate by 50 per cent as well as providing shops and restaurants.

    "Peter Ainsworth agreed to launch North Chase as he believes that projects such as this - where we treat property development responsibly and with a respect for the local environment - should be encouraged," said Jon Moen of Newhall Projects LTD.

    "We've taken the long-term view at Newhall, looking at how we can protect the environment and the well-being of our buyers.

    "Every property will have a view of greenery and will be no more than 60 metres from green space."

    North Chase will consist of 127 homes with prices from �225,000 to �450,000.  For more information call 01279 416660 or visit the website www.northchase.co.uk

  • 2007-07-12 - Harlow Herald - New development features in the UK's top 10 street scenes

    The Newhall housing estate in Harlow has been recognised as having the best street design for the needs of 21st century residents.

    Phase 1 of Newhall has featured in a list of 10 streets from across the UK with design features that have been successfully implemented, according to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE).

    "The Newhall development on the edge of Harlow exemplifies the efforts of progressive landowners, developers, consultants and local authorities to establish a new language for residential street design," the website states.

    "The results illustrate the potential for a fresh approach as outlined in the government's Manual for Streets guidance."

    Roger Evans Associates is the master planner of Newhall and Herald spoke to practice principal Roger Evans, who welcomed the accolade.

    "When the Newhall project started a lot of effort went in to create an attractive estate that is friendly towards pedestrians and cyclists," Mr Evans said.

    "There's no reason why a new development has to feel lifeless.  Some of the inspiration for Newhall came from market towns and how they were structured."

    The plans for Newhall were inspired by the plans of town creator Sir Frederick Gibberd.

    The designers kept to the idea of a community with its own shops and schools separated from neighbouring communities by green wedges.

    "This accolade is great for the neighbourhood," Mr Evans continued.  "One of the main things we are trying to achieve at Newhall is a new community.  I hope the residents are proud."

    CABE is the government's advisor on architecture, urban design and public space.

    Streets from Liverpool, London, Dublin, Nottingham and Devon are also on the list which can be found at www.cabe.org.uk/streets.

  • 2007-07-12 - The Pink Paper - Sustainable Village Opened by Shadow Environment Minister

    A new market town with shops and restaurants was launched at Newhall in Harlow, Essex on 14 June.

    The North Chase part of the development, which also increased the number of homes on offer, was viewed on the day by shadow secretary for the environment, food and rural affairs, Peter Ainsworth.

    Eventually the 280 acre development will have 2,800 homes, with 40 per cent open space, a "neighbourhood centre", community facility buildings, schools, medical centre and a bus route into Harlow.

    At an official launch event, Ainsworth viewed the new town-house show home, designed by award winning architect Richard Murphy.  It is an example of the architecturally challenging properties for sale on North Chase and of the contemporary, Scandinavian-influenced designs focussing on glass, timber and sharp angular shapes, used throughout Newhall.

    North Chase has a range of homes from one or two bedroom mews apartments to five bedroom garden villas.

    All the flats have views over woods, parkland or the central square.  There will also be shared equity housing and three mobility units.

    The design is also supposed to be fundamentally sustainable and takes responsibility for the local environment, minimising the impact on the local wildlife.

    Instead of selling the entire estate to one developer, Newhall Projects is selling the land in parcels, to be developed within the strict guidelines of the master plan developed by the leading urban design architects, Roger Evans Associates.  House builders are required to work unusually closely with leading contemporary architects.

    Jon Moen of Newhall Projects Ltd predicted: "The range of houses at Newhall will challenge the preconceptions of conventional housing developments and offer a real lifestyle change for purchasers, providing urban chic, craftsmanship and design on a level rarely seen outside a city.

    "Ainsworth agreed to launch North Chase as he believes that projects such as this - where we treat property development responsibly and with a respect for the local environment - should be encouraged.

    "We've taken a long-term view at Newhall, looking at how we can protect the environment and the well-being of our buyers - every property will have a view of greenery and will be no more than 60 metres from green space.  We want generations of buyers to enjoy living here."

    To date, the properties have scored "very good" in the Eco-Homes rating, achieved by increasing energy efficiency, reducing water wastage (by using the latest low water consumption dishwashers and reducing waste in the shower), maximising daylight by the orientation of the buildings, and using sustainable timber for their construction.

    There is also plenty of storage space for bicycles, encouraging buyers to avoid using cars.  Non-parallel kerbs, and trees planted in the middle of roads have been a deliberate policy to aid traffic calming.

    When complete, North Chase will comprise a total of 127 units with prices ranging from �225,000 to �450,000.  To find out more call 01279 416 660 or visit northchase.co.uk.

  • 2007-07-06 - Harlow Citizen - Shadow minister opens new project

    Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs minister Peter Ainsworth officially opened the recently-completed 61-property phase of North Chase at Newhall.

    Newhall Projects Ltd spokesman Jon Moen said: "Peter Ainsworth agreed to launch North Chase as he believes projects such as this - where we treat property development responsibly and with a respect for the local environment - should be encouraged.

    "We've taken a long-term view at Newhall looking at how we can protect the environment and the wellbeing of our buyers.  Every property will have a view of greenery and will be no more than 60 metres from green space. We want generations of buyers to enjoy living here."

    Property prices at the development range from �225,000 to �450,000.  For more details, ring 01279 416660 or visit www.northchase.co.uk

  • 2007-06-27 - The Independent - Abode, Newhall, Harlow

    Described by John Prescott as "a model of the communities we have to build", Abode is part of the unique Newhall development 25 miles north-east of London near Old Harlow - a quaint small town.  Newhall is unique in comprising four developments designed by four leading architects.  Abode, designed by Proctor Matthews architects, won a Cabe Building for Life gold-standard award for its 82 striking dwellings, which range from single-bedroom apartments to five-bedroom houses.  While their blockish appearance is contemporary, upper-level facing of dark rough-sawn timber shiplap boards reflects local farm buildings.

    There's one house still available at �325,000.  One and two-bedroom apartments start from �150,000.  Countryside Properties: 0845 402 3261.

  • 2007-06-22 - Building Magazine - Harlow, Mon Amour

    The fourth phase of the Newhall development in Harlow, Essex, has been launched by Peter Ainsworth, the shadow environment secretary.  "This is an astonishing development," he said.  "It is people-friendly, eco-friendly, looks great and feels like a liveable space."  The designer was Richard Murphy.  Other architects involved were ORMS Architecture Design, ECD Architects and Roger Evans Associates.  It was developed by Jon and William Moen and built by William Verry.

  • 2007-06-15 - Daily Express - Eco-friends for life

    Sustainable development is the new buzzword among house-builders.  For most developers, recently-imposed government guidelines and changing public perceptions have led them to turn green overnight.  Others have stronger convictions.

    Brothers Jon and William Moen are the developers of Newhall, located three miles from Harlow, Essex.  It is a planned community conceived in 1992, that embraces innovative environmental initiatives and contemporary architecture.

    To date, Newhall has scored 'very good' in the EcoHomes rating, by increasing energy efficiency and reducing water wastage.

    The brothers' commitment to developing architecturally-significant properties within a sustainable community - that will eventually encompass 2,800 homes on the 280-acre site - is born out of respect for the land on which they are building, which was once farmed by their grandfather.

    Jon Moen said: "We've taken a long-term view at Newhall, looking at how we can develop architecturally-stimulating homes, protect the environment and the wellbeing of our buyers.  Every property will have a view of greenery and will be not more than 60m from green space.  We want generations of buyers to enjoy living here."

    The philosophy appears to be working.  Several of those who have bought at Newhall have moved within the community rather than outside it.  At North Chase, where 127 apartments, townhouses and villas have been released for sale with prices ranging from �225,000 to �450,000, a number of existing homeowners are considering trading up from an apartment to a townhouse.

    Head of sales and marketing, Matthew Byatt, said: "We find that once people find Newhall they don't want to leave.  In the last phase sold, 12 of the current residents traded up and a further 30 previously lived within five minutes of the scheme.  I fully expect several existing homeowners at Newhall to buy at North Chase, whether as a second or investment property, or for personal use."

    The devotion to living at Newhall exhibited by many homeowners is typified by mother-of-two Rachel Smyth.  She and children Megan, 13, and Charlie, aged three, moved from a traditional townhouse in Harlow to a contemporary, architect-designed, four-bedroom property in the abode section of Newhall, built by developer Countryside; to date one of four house-builders to work on the site.

    Mrs Smyth said: "We fell for the house as soon as we walked through the door.  It is a  suntrap, full of glass and natural light.  One of the special features we love is the wonderful central atrium in the middle of the ground floor, which has a glass roof like a conservatory.

    "There is an overall feeling of openness in the home and we love its unusual adaptability of the space."

    Such innovation has not come about by chance.  The Moens have sought out architects with whom they wanted to work, inviting them to challenge the preconceptions of conventional housing developments.  Equally, architects' desire to work on a genuinely original project has resulted in four being involved in designing North Chase - Richard Murphy Architects, ORMS Architecture Design, ESD Architects and Roger Evans Associates.

    Although an unusual method of working - traditionally one architect would oversee a complete project - Jon Moen says the four architects have worked together harmoniously towards achieving a shared goal of creating excellence.

    He said: "Our main aim from the beginning has been to build a sustainable community based on a traditional market town layout, and with architecturally-innovative and interesting buildings."

    At North Chase, which will combine retail premises as well as residential, an inventive Z-shaped building, designed by ORMS, will house shops and a restaurant on the ground floor.  Above, dual-aspect residential units will overlook the central square, parkland and woods that are home to a variety of fauna and flora.  Green space is key to the Newhall experience.  Even when complete, 40 per cent of the total area will remain open land.  Not that the end is in sight.

    Currently, only 300 residences have been built, a figure that will rise to 700 by 2011.  It will be a full generation - 15 years - before the extent of Newhall is reached.  The painstaking progress is partly because of the UK planning system's slow-moving bureaucracy, but is also due to the Moens' great attention to detail and determination that the land and community is developed in a sustainable manner and with respect for the local environment.

    Unlike many landowners, the brothers are selling the land to developers in parcels rather than as an entire estate.  Developers must adhere to the strict guidelines of the masterplan, created by Roger Evans Associates, a leading urban design firm of architects, and work unusually closely with project architects.  A colour palette, specific brick types and roof tiles have been selected that house-builders must use - deviation from the approved materials is not permitted.  Otherwise, anything goes.

    Newhall's house designs range from traditional Victorian-style houses, without the ornamentation, to European-style contemporary terrace houses that incorporate louvers on the outside of windows to provide privacy; to semis with a 'zebra-stripe' effect on the external walls.  The result is an eclectic mix; a bold playfulness at work that many people find is an inspirational vision of what all new homes could be - sustainable communities with architecturally stimulating properties.

    The brothers' vision has not gone unnoticed.  Shadow Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Peter Ainsworth, officially launched North Chase yesterday.  Jon Moen said: "Mr Ainsworth agreed to launch North Chase as he believes that projects such as Newhall should be encouraged."

  • 2007-06-02 - Harlow Citizen - Newhall paves the way for designers by Tan Parsons

    Cutting-edge street planning was crucial when Harlow was built in the 1950s, and now the town is paving the way for designers once more, according to experts.

    CABE, the government's advisor on architecture, urban design and public space, has listed The Chase, at Newhall, as among the best examples of street design in England.

    CABE streets advisor Louise Duggan said: "Newhall is an impressive advance for UK street design.  We want to see more streets designed as they are here, with a strong vision, high-quality paving, lighting and planting, created with the surrounding architecture and public space in mind.

    "Large-scale new housing developments present the opportunity to fashion a whole new community, but all too often they're bland and uniform and could be anywhere.

    "We applaud Harlow for its innovative approach and for leading the way in good street design.  It should provide inspiration to progressive developers and local authorities."

    The master planner behind the design of Newhall, Roger Evans, said he hopes the development will herald a new dawn for street design in the UK.

    He said: "A lot of people have come from all over the country to visit Newhall and see what we're doing  -  to have the development listed alongside places like Kensington High Street, in London, is absolutely fantastic for Harlow."

    Mr Evans said he believes the key to creating a community feel with a housing development lies in the streets and squares.

    "You have to understand the streets are not just areas that cars use to travel," he said.

    "They're public spaces where people walk and children play and spend time.  They're crucial to the identity of a place.

    "When we started the scheme, Harlow's street standards were very rigid and Harlow Council has worked very hard with us to relax those rules so that we could design Newhall as we wanted."

    The CABE report lists the defining characteristic of Newhall as "the deliberate blurring between road and pavement and the minimisation of conventional road markings", which means the streets are shared by vehicles and pedestrians.


    According to the report, residents say this has created a sense of ownership and safety in the streets that is absent from other housing estates.

  • 2007-05-04 - Harlow Herald - Happy couple see the light

    Antony and Sima Ardin are delighted to be the owners of a new home that appears to have a dual personality.

    "It is one house by day and another by night," enthuses Antony, who, for six years, was sax player with popular '80s band Bad Manners.

    The couple live at the award-winning, architecturally inspiring Newhall development near Old Harlow, where contemporary design is a key feature.

    The Ardin's home includes a glass atrium roof over the dining room and an internal balcony on the first floor, bringing in so much natural light that the interior atmosphere changes according to the time of day and the weather.

    "We love it," said Antony.  "In the evening we can go up to the balcony with a glass of wine and watch the sunset through the roof."

    Newhall is the brainchild of landowners Jon and William Moen, and conceptually is as far away from ordinary new homes developments as possible.

    It has been carefully planned as a series of neighbourhoods with architecturally diverse and beautifully crafted, sustainable homes.  Master planners Roger Evans Associates have integrated nature, homes and landscape into the development, with ample 'green wedges'.

    Newhall has been designed to attract a diverse social mix and, as it grows, will contain schools, restaurants and shops, all within walking distance from any home.

    The Ardins previously lived in St Albans after several years in Tehran where Antony taught English and Sima, who is Iranian, was a civil engineer.

    The couple visited Newhall "just to see what it was like", but as soon as they viewed their two-bedroom house in Simplicity Lane they knew that buying it would be the right decision.  The glass-roofed dining room has already been put to good use by the Ardins, and they have noticed that, because it admits heat as well as light, their utility bills have decreased as they can regulate the indoor temperature by opening or closing different combinations of doors and windows.

    The latest phase of Newhall currently under construction, North Chase, will eventually comprise 127 homes in a mix of apartments, town houses, detached houses and flexible live-work units, and will include the development's first commercial units.

    Prices will range from �225,000 to �450,000.  For further information, call the sales centre on (01279) 416660 or visit www.northchase .co.uk

  • 2007-04-14 - Sunday Express - Why living in waynes world is all the fashion.

    Famed for their wild clothing designs, the Red Or Dead fashion founders are now cheering up dreary housing estates by creating 'cool' schemes for the mass market. Report by DIANA WILDMAN

    Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway, creators of the Red Or Dead fashion label, caused shockwaves during the Eighties and Nineties, not only for their outrageously funky clothes but also for initially ignoring pleas by the likes of Vogue magazine to take part in trendy events such as London Fashion Week. Indeed, this brash young couple were once offered, for free, a teenage model on the cusp of the big time - a certain Kate Moss - to model their clothes but they turned her down!

    Now in their mid-40s with four children, the Hemingways, who sold Red Or Dead in a multi-million pound deal in 1999, are applying their cheerful, fun-fashion bravura to housing design.

    Not for them the cosy and high-profile chance to spend millions designing a plush pad in Notting Hill for a rich City banker, but rather to design houses in new communities in dreary and often deprived regions around Britain, known as "urban regeneration".

    Their latest project, The Bridge, a 264-acre brownfield site in Dartford, Kent, was launched two weeks ago. It is a mixed-use regeneration scheme, a joint venture with Dartford Borough Council, in the Thames Gateway not far from the Olympic village site across the river.

    Plans include parks, a school, commercial facilities, modern transport links and 1,500 homes, including 1,134 built by George Wimpey and designed, in consultation with architects, by the Hemingways. All homes will receive EcoHomes "good" ratings and a small scheme called the EcoVillage is also planned.

    "After we sold Red Or Dead we decided to challenge the idea that mass-market developers had to produce dreary housing estates," Wayne explains. "I called this 'wimpeyfication', a remark picked up by the media in 2000 that resulted in a summons from the then Wimpey chairman.

    "To my surprise, as I had half expected to be sued, he immediately asked us to work with Wimpey and design homes for its vast urban scheme on Tyneside, The Staiths, which went on to win a series of design awards."

    Red Or Dead started life on a stall in Camden Market in 1982, where Wayne and Gerardine sold Gerardine's old clothes to pay the rent. Wayne was an impoverished student studying for a degree in geography and town planning. Like designing clothes on a budget for the non-elite, they have now translated this ethos to the housing market.

    At The Bridge we want to create a complete lifestyle - a reasonably priced home that people feel pride in owning and facilities to match. The front doors will boast differing colours and the odd quirky feature such as glass panels.

    "We like open plan living, not the boxy rooms so beloved by traditional housebuilders. Families can cook, play, watch television, write e-mails and even do homework all in the same space. Obviously there isn't as much space as we are lucky enough to have in our own Sussex home but we incorporate the basic idea of crisp, clean, simple lines and no wasted areas.

    "We push for what we want for buyers, not what the housebuilders perceive is wanted. We scream and fight for what we believe in and are lucky enough to have the resources and clout to carry it through.

    "Transport links at The Bridge will be superb and, as I am into technology, I went to BT to see if we could get a 'wireless cloud' over the whole development as every home will have wireless broadband, and a flat screen on the kitchen wall with information on such topics as bus and train times, weather and local events."

    The first phase of 235 contemporary homes is under construction and is a mix of one to three bedroom apartments priced from �160,000 and two to four bedroom houses costing from �225,000. Completion will be from October this year.

    With the 2012 Olympics in mind, residents will be able to join the �4.5 million, state-of-the-art Darford Judo Centre, opened by Princess Anne a year ago. It is expected to become the key coaching centre for the British Judo Association.

    Wrinkly rockers Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were both born and brought up in Dartford, and Sir Peter Blake, the artist who designed the album cover for the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, used to live there. And once the Hemingways, who both received MBEs for services to design in the June 2006 Queen's Birthday Honours list, have put their stamp on this huge new development, Dartford could easily become one of the south-east's trendiest hotspots once again - but probably not much before completion in five years time.

    INFORMATION: Sales office: 0845 676 0121/www.thebridgedartford.co.uk


    Knight Frank has sold 30 studios and apartments priced from �99,950 to �370,000 at the �60million Granary Wharf waterfront scheme in the heart of Leeds city centre. Granary Wharf, being built by ISIS, is part of the continued regeneration of Leeds and will consist of a new public square, two smart apartment buildings, retail units and a hotel. Call 0845 0711060/www/knightfrank.com or www.isis.gb.com

    George Wimpey City's latest development, Latitude, in Birmingham's trendy city centre, consists of 189 apartments priced from �167,000. Ships and restaurants will ensure another new thriving community in the revitalised location. Wimpey's Emma Freeman says: "These are sleek, modern buildings to match the demands of a busy urban lifestyle." Latitude sales: 0121 200 2220/www.latitude.gb.com

    Jon and William Moen are planning 2,800 homes on 200 acres of farmland that their family has farmed for generations at Newhall, near Old Harlow, in Essex. So far 300 are built and parcels of land are being sold off to different housebuilders. Prices are from �150,000 to �475,000 and, to create a thriving community, the original farm buildings are being converted into commercial units. Newhall sales: 01279 432331 / www.newhallproject.co.uk

    Showhomes are now open at Barratt's Impress@Park 25 in Redhill, Surrey. Twenty of the 126 homes have been sold off-plan and the rest are available priced from �266,950. Impress@Park 25 sales: 0845 603 8574/www.barratthomes.co.uk

  • 2007-04-13 - Harlow Citizen - Newhall tops out

    Harlow dignitaries attended the topping-out ceremony of the 127-home development North Chase, the latest part of the Newhall development.

    Harlow Council chairman Greg Peck praised the quality and "wow-factor" of the development, which he said would eventually be "a town in the countryside", with 2,800 homes, schools, shops, restaurants and medical centres.

    He added: "As such it's a significant part of Harlow's neighbourhood community."

    The first chance to see the homes will be at the off-plan sales weekend being held tomorrow and Sunday.  Prices range from �150,000 to �500,000.

    For more details, ring 01279 416660 or visit www.newhallproject.co.uk.

  • 2007-03-08 - Harlow Star - Innovations of estate praised by TV feature

    Harlow's newest housing development gained regional exposure on Friday when it was featured on BBC television.

    The weekly regional current affairs programme Inside Out praised the Newhall project during a feature looking at the state of the present property market in the London area for first-time buyers.

    Presenter Maxwell Hutchinson praised Newhall's "creative use of varying architectural styles and material", adding it serves as an example of builders "waking up to the fact that we don't all want to live in identikit mock Georgian estates".

    The programme concluded that Harlow was an ideal location for Londoners looking to relocate and the houses being built represented good value for money in comparison to equivalent homes in the capital.

    There are presently 300 properties in the Newhall development, which will rise to 2,800 over the course of the next 15 years, and plans are also in place to build a number of bars, restaurants and shops together with a school and doctor's surgery.

  • 2007-02-07 - Evening Standard Homes and Property - A farmers' market

    Two farming brothers are using inspirational designs to turn their land into 21st century homes, says David Spittles

    Brothers Jon and William Moen are Essex farmers and land-owners, and the inspiration behind one of the country's most architecturally acclaimed developments, at Newhall near Harlow, which is attracting buyers who are moving out of London in search of breakthrough but affordable design.

    The Moen's middle-aged family men who wear restrained suits and look as if they could be undertakers, have an obvious emotional attachment to Newhall. The family has farmed the land since the Twenties and Jon was born in the Victorian farmhouse tat till stand on the site.

    The brothers inherited the estate in the Eighties and were determined that their beloved land would not become a soulless housing estate when they looked to sell it. So they have kept a stake in the enterprise. "We can afford to take a long view. We want to make Newhall a place where we would like to live ourselves," says Jon.

    "As farmers we have a lot to learn about developments, but nor form volume housebuilders who tell us that people want traditional-style homes. We've proved that's not true. The homes at Newhall are more expensive than the local market, but buyers are prepared to pay for the extra quality," he adds.

    'It is a bold vision and already a notable success'

    Newhall has scooped several design awards, including accolades from the Royal Institute of British Architects and Royal Town Planning Institute: one judging verdict concluded that he Newhall "response to the requirements of 21st century living with verve, imagination and skill".

    The Moens secured planning permission for a showpiece village on 200 acres of land that their family has farmed for generations. Although keen to sell off some of their estate, they pledged to take control of its future. Planning permission was granted as their land falls into the Stansted Growth Corridor plan, where the s need for further housing for Londoners moving out.

    Rather than sell the land to a single developer, the Moens are parcelling up smaller plots and offering them to builders that will create 2,8000 homes within their design codes.

    The brothers have already commissioned a group of architects and approved a scheme with a modern design twist that, nonetheless, fits into the semi-rural landscape within includes pedestrian-friendly zones and ecological planting of woodland and hedgerows, and the creation of streams and lakes.

    It is a bold vision, and although the project is barely halfway through its 20-year timetable, with 300 residents, it is already a notable success. One couple, Hazel and David Taylor, live in a four bedroom town house with a live-work annex. They moved from a 15th century coach house in nearby Old Harlow. "I have never lived in a new house before," says Hazel, 38, who runs a massage and reflexology business from home. "What excited us most was the internal layout - the height, space and light. We have sun decks on the back and often sit out, even in winter."

    The couple paid �445,000 for the property "we have lots of room and a beautiful environment around us. It can only get better as more amenities arrive."

    Homes command a 15 to 20 percent premium over the local market, with choices of terraces, semi-detached and detached homes, as well as small blocks of low-rise apartments at middle-market prices.

    Newhall is the antidote of suburban housing sprawl. The designs are daring, but not radical, reflecting the way modern families want to live.

    Walk around and you see tree-lined contoured roads rather than grid-like boulevards. Buildings feature huge, projecting bay windows and conservatories, domes or steep pitched roofs, timber clad walls alongside powder-coated aluminium turquoise coloured panels, and copper and steel and glass facades mixing Welsh slate - even thatch. There is a sense of scale and elegance about the development. "We want the place to become a new millennium market town, not another housing estate," says Jon.

    Many of the homes have penthouse like qualities, with double height space, spiral staircases and architectural glazing. Eventually there will be 2,800 homes - a high- density scheme normally reserved for brownfield sites such as the Thames Gateway. Disused farm buildings are to be remodelled into a community centre and the will be commercial space, a primary school, performance venue and art studios.

    Houses for sale are priced from �282,000 to �425, 000. A new phase of 126 homes called North Chase is being developed by the Moens themselves. These will be released in the Spring. Call CALA Domus on 01279 416660.

    Harlow is convenient for London commuters being 30 minutes by train to Liverpool Street. By road, the M11 provides quick access into Stratford and Canary Wharf.

  • 2006-09-29 - The Times - Wow factor re-visited

    John Prescott has praised its bold vision. Fred Redwood assesses Newhall in Essex

    Anybody who has ever tried to build his own home knows that the hardest part of the process is finding the right plot. So when Rose Horley and Gareth Barr were given the chance to buy land on a new development on the edge of Harlow in Essex, they did not hesitate. "We have always planned to build our own home one day but might not have done so this soon, had this opportunity not almost fallen into our lap," says Horley.

    The couple, who live in Harlow, have just had an offer accepted on one of five self-build plots for sale in Newhall, a development by the idealist Moen family, who own the 200 acres of farmland on which it is being built. Here, the emphasis is on architecture, sustainability and community-building rather than just profit. "We have closely followed the Newhall development, as it was the kind of place we wanted to live," says Horley. "We've been really impressed by the Moen family's determination to 'get it right'."

    The massive scheme, with 2,800 homes, as well as shops, schools, doctors' surgeries, bars and restaurants, is the brainchild of the brothers Jon and William Moen, who inherited the land in the early 1980s. From the outset the family were determined that their beloved farm would not become mere housing sprawl. So they have maintained a stake in the enterprise that enables them to select the architects and impose restrictions on the design rather than leaving all the key decisions to the developers.

    The result is bold and not for the architecturally faint-hearted. Walk around and you're surprised by features such as huge, projecting bay windows and conservatories, even on upper levels. Then there are the panels to the houses in turquoise and orange. Steep pitched roofs in Welsh slate or thatch also incongruous. Although it is still early days, with just 218 homes finished, this is an extraordinary enterprise built on a master plan developed about 15 years ago.

    Instead of a boring housing estate, with closes and keyhole culs-de-sac, there's a grid of courts, lanes and squares, all "going somewhere" yet all designed to give people priority over cars. "We want to make this look more like a market town - it's somewhere you want to visit, like Bath or Cheltenham," says Jon Moen.

    It is no accident that Newhall shares some of the features that make great cities great. Back in the 1980s, when the family were still airing ideas with the town planner, one of the first exercises they did was to superimpose maps of Venice and Oxford over a map of their land.

    The alignment of every street has been planned. There will be non-parallel kerbs, and trees planted in the middle of roads for traffic calming. The Moens also want to keep the existing woodland, hedgerows and streams to create their grand vision of a new millennium country town.

    You'd suspect that Newhall is too radical for the average housebuyer, but Jon Moen will have none of it. "It's the big developers who tell us that buyers want traditional-style homes," he says. "But it's not true and we can prove it. There's a 15-20 per cent premium on Newhall homes."

    The style of architecture on the development has evolved and become more daring over the years. The first phase of the scheme, which started in 2001, was undertaken by Barratt which built 50 houses and 30 apartments. It was followed by more adventurous design by Copthorne Homes, which added 59 houses and 49 flats to the mix. That said, the development really took a leap forward when the brothers decided to take even greater control over the look of the scheme by going into partnership with CALA Homes. The result was the building of 74 CALA Domus properties, which won the Building for Life Gold Standard award. There are 15 homes still available, including three apartments and 12 houses with prices ranging from �225,000 to �485,000.

    In the show penthouse, a spiral staircase leads from the ground floor, with its two bedrooms, to a barn-like drawing room with a mezzanine. This is loft-living for everyman, with polished wood arches, high windows and a liberating sense of space. But the kitchen is small and there doesn't appear to be much storage space. At �375,000 buyers may want more for the money.

    No home is to be more than 60m (200ft) from a patch of public space or more than ten minutes' walk from local amenities. The payback is a density of 45 homes per hectare in places - the equivalent of 45 homes on Trafalgar Square. Although this hardly gives you the space and privacy that you would get in the middle of the countryside, Newhall is being built to densities that you would expect in a town rather than inner-city London. `"It means you have more contact with your neighbours, which is a good thing," says Gloria Manzano McGrath, who lives at Newhall and works as a liaison officer at the development.

    With all the emphasis on community, sustainability and high density, it is hardly suprising that Newhall won the accolade of "Prezza's Poundbury" following a visit from the Deputy Prime Minister in 2003. John Prescott gushed that he had "see the vision" and that Newhall certainly had the "wow" factor.

    However, it is still too soon to judge whether Newhall really will be, as Prescott claimed, an exemplary community. The scheme is expected to be completed in 2025 and the commercial side of the venture has yet to be built. The success of Newhall as a community will depend largely on its commercial core. It's in the shops, bars and cafes that the residents are going to meet and mix. But there's a large Tesco just a mile away and adequate shopping in Harlow. What sort of businesses will be viable there? If the centre is left as a scruffy precinct, the Parisian caf� vibe that the Moens envisage will not happen.

    "Being original also means taking time and effort to get things right, and that's what we're going to do," says Jon Moen. "Newhall is about excellence. We are making a place we'd want to live in ourselves."

    CALA Domus: 01279 416660
    Newhall: 01279 432331
    www.newhallproject.co.uk There are four self-build plots left. Outline planning consent for each house has been granted. Guide prices are in the region of �150,000 to �200,000. Best and final offers are required by November 2006.

    CALA Domus homes, above, and Rose Horley and Gareth Barr, top,
    who bought a self-build plot at Newhall

    Trees in the middle of roads will calm traffic

    The payback is a density of 45 homes a hectare

  • 2005-11-18 - Axis Magazine - Architect-Designed Inspirational Homes in an award winning development.

    CALA DOMUS, NEWHALL, OLD HARLOW, ESSEX Our architects have delivered these award-winning and inspiring homes in a range to suite your lifestyle and your budget. Designed over one, two or three storeys, these beautiful and original homes are set in a semi rural location and are designed to offer a real community environment.

    Apartments from �220,000
    2 Bedroom Houses from �255,000

    See for yourself, visit our New Showhome open from 11am to 5pm daily or call 01279 416 660.

    Agent for CALA Management Ltd having a place of business at Adam House, 5 Mid New Cultins, Edinburgh, EH11 4DU

    part of the newhall project


  • 2004-02-18 - Herald - Contemporary styling for luxury living
    CALA Domus opens Newhall view home The wait is finally over! Prospective home buyers vying to purchase a piece of contemporary luxury can now view all at CALA Homes (South) much anticipated view home at its new development, CALA DOMUS, located in Newhall, Harlow.

    The impressive four-bedroom, two-bathroom (one en-suite) view home, which launched on 31 January 2004, is situated in plot 60 at the development and boasts a unique upstairs gallery area which overlooks the double height dining area, two balconies and an impressive kitchen. Visitors to the view home can expect to find an airy, spacious property which is beaming with light and modern sophistication.

    According to Philip Brown, sales and marketing director of CALA Homes (South): "The CALA DOMUS development has attracted much attention from a diversity of buyers since its launch in July 2003. The launch weekend of the view home saw a high number of visitors and seven reservations were made in addition to the 25 properties which have already sold off-plan. Buying off-plan is becoming an attractive option to home buyers as the various perks in doing so include being able to choose a top of the range plot at a premium price and the opportunity to personalise the new home with a range of finishes. Investors are also increasingly recognising the benefits of buying off-plan as a dependable return on their capital. Fundamentally, it allows people to buy tomorrow's home at today's price."

    CALA DOMUS combines ultra modern, city-style accommodation with an idyllic countryside location - the perfect arrangement for city slickers who value peace and quiet. People want modern homes, but not at the expense of green space and tranquility. Expectations today are high, and home buyers are seeking properties in secure areas that embody a strong sense of community. As an integral part of Newhall, CALA DOMUS encapsulates this ethos and offers luxury homes and a unique lifestyle.

    The vision for CALA DOMUS is a complete reversal of the sterile environment increasingly associated with new developments. As Newhall evolves it will eventually have many shared spaces such as squares, greens, ponds and parks. It will also have amenities including a doctor's surgery, shops, eateries and a community hall. All of these facilities will enhance the sense of community, which is supported by the CALA DOMUS design.

    Waiting to welcome you The View Home is now open seven days a week from 11am to 5pm and will allow prospective buyers to view the type of stylish property at the development designed to offer a lavish lifestyle to anyone who lives there. The development also has a sales office with a dedicated sales team. Prices for a home at the CALA DOMUS development range from �220,000 to �450,000.

    For information on CALA DOMUS, contact the on site sales office on 0845 300 2490 or visit www.caladomus.co.uk.

  • 2003-08-18 - Brentwood Gazeteer - Why Harlow is celebrating

    Kerry Stephenson visits the pioneering new town where proud home-owners are enjoying big returns on property investment

    Back in the 1980s when Prime Minister Mrs Thatcher plainly didn't have a lot of time for local government initiatives, especially those controlled by Labour politicians, Harlow "dozed" in the doldrums.

    It was a postwar new town initiative that never quite lived up to the expectation of Londoners who moved there in the 1950s and 1960s from sub-standard rented accommodation.

    As Britain's second new town, after Stevenage, it promised a golden age of homes for rent amid generous landscaping, excellent shopping, good education, and a masterplan for which architect Sir Frederick Gibberd (designer of Liverpool's RC Cathedral) won world-wide acclaim.

    Harlow was earmarked as the future for postwar Britain, with an eventual population of 60,000 who could either find jobs locally in printing, chemical, pharmaceutical, office and light engineering firms or still commute to London, only 30 to 60 minutes away (depending on the vagaries of public transport and road congestion).

    The town grew in stuttering stops and starts, to its current 79,000 and while it has always had hospital, educational and sporting facilities the envy of neighbours, it still got labelled with "soulless housing" and a road system that confused and even infuriated.

    It managed to maintain its reputation for "good community spirit" but home owners in the neighbouring Brentwood and Epping generally looked down their noses at its aspirations. After all it was more for home renting, rather than home buying, wasn't it? Post Mrs Thatcher the answer is no, no and no again.

    In 55 years it has, of course, lost its "new town tag" and ambitions to be something of a classless community. Driven, since 1997 by its new Labour MP, Bill Rammell, it has gradually got its self-confidence back, attracted high-tech jobs and the highly paid people to fill them.

    "Self defensive homeowners no longer say they live in Old Harlow. With the current renewal of the town centre including a gian new Matalan and ASDA and plans for a total upgrade of the Harvey Centre, pride is back with a premium.

    But now suddenly visitors are discovering why it has become the focus of so much national media attention.

    Those lucky enough to have moved into its new housing schemes are laughing their heads off at former prejudiced critics who felt Harlow was a bland town, not fast track, fast growth, and a fashion icon.

    One lucky couple who moved into a new Barratt home in Newhall (a high tech 100 hectare estate of townhouses and apartments) are all smiles.

    They sacrificed a large garden in Loughton for a smaller garden in Harlow but their larger home in which they have been living for just over 18 months has escalated in price from �250,000 to �400,000 and possibly �410,000 if a similar property nearby achieves its asking price.

    Since national newspapers reported that Newhall has been awarded the prestigious Building for Life Gold Award from Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott for "exceptional architecture", curious visitors from Brentwood, Ongar and Harold Wood have been arriving in droves.

    Newhall is the vision of the landowning farmers William and Jon Moen who, instead of just selling out and retiring to the Bahamas, decided to stay with the project and work in partnership with developers while retaining a financial and planning/design control interest.

    They have a 50-50 partnership with Cala Homes, the one time Aberdeen developers whose Scottish know-how has taken them into the big national league of housebuilders. Cala's planning director, Arthur Mann says the Moens have a real desire to provide something pretty special in housing: "Of course, they want to make money, but that's not their prime motivation. We're happy to be partners in something that is unique and perhaps even history making."

    And the Moens have also entered into a similar kind of deal with Barratt, whose part of the project is now complete, and Copthorn Homes whose designs got four star rating in the Time and Mail on Sunday.

    The Barratt homes are modern but "not that modern" at least when viewed externally. The brothers' master planner, Roger Evans, of Roger Evans Associates, insisted that Cala and Brentwood based Copthorn Homes conform more with the leading edge design "spirit" of the project.

    And that translates as "definitely and startlingly modern" with up to 80 homes per hectare bounded by giant wedges of countryside woodland, streams and lakes, and shared amenity space.

    The Moens were disappointed with the design of Church Langley, built on the first tranche of farmland they sold off. They wanted their 220 acre farm to become a site for housing that was people friendly but looked more to the future than the past.

    Not surprisingly, developers like Copthorn Homes, part of Countryside Properties, jumped at the chance to make a design statement as well as a good financial return.

    They had to adopt the master planner's ideas but were still allowed scope to tweak and enhance. The Copthorn homes are being sold to buyers who want space, and more space, light and more light, and the kind of 21st Century lifestyle that is reflected in American made TV sitcoms, rather than BBC period pieces.

    There's no "Look Back in Anger" attitudes in Harlow. It's all about looking forward with remarkable optimism, based on new roads, new infrastructure, new expansion of Stansted Airport and promises from central Government than under the 20-20 Partnership, Harlow will at long last become one of the most fashionable locations, not only in Essed, but in the whole of the UK.

    First signs are that the ambitious partnership between Harlow Council, Essex County Council and central Government is a winner. But striking the right balance between expansion and infrastructure remains a key challenge, evidenced by congestion that clogs Chelmsford's A414 connection to the M11. The alternative route via Ongar is becoming dire at peak times.

    Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, wants Harlow to rehabilitate his flawed reputation. He's out to prove that more homes can be accommodated in the South East without destroying the existing rural environment. His aids have even promised an improved environment through massive investment in trees, shrubs and amenity space.

    If Harlow works, his job and that of his Government could be safe for another term.

    Harlow is taking shape as a "show town". The latest boost is an �11million promise from Whitehall to provide new state-of-the-art leisure and sporting facilities on a greenfield site and knock-on infrastructure. It will replace an existing sports complex that will be bulldozed to make way for new housing.

    Harlow Hospital now has regional status. All the secondary schools are being upgraded.

    Meanwhile Copthorn are reporting that sales are moving swiftly at prices ranging from �145,000 for a one bedroom flat to �450,000 for a four bedroom house.

    Visitors generally fall into two distinct categories. Their reaction is either 'wow' or 'ugh!" to the designs of architects Stephen Proctor and Andrews Matthews.

    Some love contemporary glass and steel architecture and think that Copthorn's "Abode" concept, part of an 80 hectare neighbourhood scheme of around 2,800 homes, is just the ticket.

    Homebuyers who think the acres of plate glass incorporated into the new homes will eliminate "privacy" are being reassured that curtain keep out prying eyes.

    These big windows are also a feature of the Cala Domus' 65-plot project whose first homes went on sale on July 28, just six months after getting a final planning and design go ahead.

    A spokesman for Halifax estate agency who are handling "on site sales" said buyers expecting a contemporary look have been even more excited after seeing the new homes. "We sold three in the first five days, and five in the first week. We expect sales will really take off when our show house is ready in November or December."

    But sceptical supporters for traditional homes ask: "Where's the culture? Where's the shopping? Where's the leisure?" Buyers already ensconced say with a hint of superiority: "We've got three Tesco's. There's Sainsbury's and a new ASDA which is expected to make national headlines.

    "We have the Harlow Playhouse which bills a lot of what people pay a fortune for in the West End. Our highly praised Harlow Regional Hospital is getting even more investment. And within a few years we will have one of the most modern sporting and leisure complexes in the whole of the South East. And yes, our homes are pretty special too."

    The first buyer at "Abode" London media worker Mark Field who bought his top floor two bedroom apartment off-plan mainly because London prices were too rich said: "The houses are close together but when I look out the floor to ceiling window I see interesting architecture, not boring flat walls. The light is like that I enjoyed when I lived in South Africa. And to be living in an architect designed home, well most people rarely get that chance do they?"

    FIRST RATE: Mark Field, a London media worker bought his Abode apartment off-plan

    Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, being shown around the award-winning Copthorn Homes development Abode, at Harlow with the Chairman of Countryside Properties Alan cherry (far left)

    NOT so contemporary from Barratts at the award-winning Newhall development

    BARRATTS' contemporary style

    Interaction with the landscape is actively encouraged with opportunities to walk, cycle, explore and enjoy all essential elements of the Cala Domus development in Harlow

  • 2003-07-02 - The Times - Braver new world

    John Price hails a model estate that breaks out of the box.

    John Prescott was his engagingly frank self. He was not, he said, making any claims to be a man of vision. And who could fail to agree with him, given the state of our roads and railways over which he recently presided? But let's not be mean. The Deputy Prime Minister - wearing his newer hat as Blair's bloke in charge of pushing through a million new homes in the Nimby South East - wants us to recognise that he knows a good vision when he sees one. "I've got a vision now - I've just seen it here," he said.

    The "here" was a building site on the fringes of Harlow in Essex where the minister descended early last week to hand out a gong for good development.

    And not just any old gong, mind you, but a brand new "Building for Life" Gold Standard gong. Actually, it's an engraved paving slab. Nevertheless, Building for Life is aiming to establish itself as the Oscars - rather than the Eurovision Song Contest - of building awards.

    Then again, it wasn't any old development either, but one that is being heralded as an important new model settlement to try to end the general disaster that is the British housing estate of the past 50 years.

    The crux of the matter - pinpointed in Lord Rogers of Riverside's key 1999 report on urban regeneration - is density. To achieve the Prescott targets, we need more houses to the acre, but only by very careful planning and design can this be achieved without replicating the crud of the recent past.

    As a 21st-century society we have all the advanced science and technology to put a Ford Modeo into nose-to-tail orbit around the M25, but matching the triumphs of the great builders of 200 years ago mysteriously eludes us.

    This is where the Building for Life award comes in. It was devised by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, Civic Trust and the House Builders Federation to reward developers who could satisfy Lord Rogers' principles of high-quality building, with an emphasis from beginning to end, on design and architecture. Four years on, the winning Harlow scheme (one of three to be given Gold awards last week - the others are by Crest Nicholson at Greenhithe and Sunley Homes at West Malling, both in Kent) takes up these ideas. It has the trendy-for-about-five-minutes name "Abode", which is daft, but everything else about it is worth taking seriously.

    Abode is an early part of Newhall, an 80-hectare neighbourhood of 2,800 homes to be built on the edge of Harlow, which was itself one of the early New Towns, designed by Sir Frederick Gibberd.

    It lies in the M11 corridor, one of four areas earmarked by Prescott for growth.

    What's new at Newhall is this: the land is owned by Jon and William Moen who, unlike other farmers with planning consents, are not just taking the money and running. Instead, they are taking the money and staying - to take responsibility for how things go in the future. They are selling the land in parcels to be developed to a strict master plan drawn up for them by the urban designers Roger Evans Associates. Backing up the master plan are covenants locking developers into sticking to the vision - right down to external colour schemes. About 25 per cent of the development will be "affordable" housing.

    The plan features high density - up to 80 homes per hectare in parts - enabling about 40 per cent of the land to be allocated to big green wedges of countryside, woodland, streams and lakes. No home will be more than a short walk from open space.

    It is worth noting that the gems of Georgian Britain were at densities of up to 200 homes to the hectare. This compares with figures of 20 to 30 to the hectare on our despised new estates, with their identical little brick piles, all on same-size plots, swallowing up swaths of land in tight little private gardens isolated from community and town.

    The master plan aims for variety by parceling out 50 to 100 dwellings at a time to different developers and architects to use their own ingenuity within the overall design frame.

    Houses will be grouped in mews, courts, lanes and squares, giving the town 'grid' diversity and giving people priority over cars. Abode is designed by Proctor and Matthews Architects and is being built by Copthorn Homes. Prices range from �145,000 for a one-bed flat to �450,000 for a four-bed house.

    You can get property cheaper in the area, but sales are zipping along because of the quality of the design and the materials.

    As Tony Travers, Copthorn's managing director, put it: "We have shown that high-density housing need not be little boxes crammed on soulless estates."

    Abode is a clever new take on the old towns and villages that we always admire, both in street pattern and construction.

    Paints may be "microporous", the glass "solar coated", but what Copthorn and its architects have achieved here are real modern homes with modern, adaptable layouts wrapped up in the feelgood factor of quality and tradition. It's a case of wood, stone and thatch meet atriums and aluminium.

    With countryside just round the corner, the houses are close together to create the feel of a busy town or village. The variety of the street layout - no straight rows of houses here - ensures that they do not feel crowded. Rigid building and planning rules about privacy and houses overlooking each other have had to be abandoned. However, this approach has its virtues, as the Rogers report noted: "Increasing the intensity of activities and people within an area is central to the idea of creating sustainable neighbourhoods.

    "Streets with continuous active frontages, and overlooked from upper storeys, provide a natural form of self-policing. The continuous presence of passerrs-by creates a blend of urban vitality and safety that is characteristic of many successful urban areas."

    The Building for Life award is under the energetic, not to mention bright and breezy, chairmanship of the former Red or Dead fashion designer Wayne Hemingway. At the awards ceremony Hemingway, who as a design consultant is bringing fresh thinking to housing, had his own take on the Rogers report's declared virtues of living cheek by jowl.

    He marvelled at how houses teeming with light from massive windows only feet away from their neighbours had managed to get past the planners. Would privacy be a problem?

    "Go and look at the show house," he said. "The bedroom window is huge. But there are curtains, you know, if you want to do something in private."

    Quite right. Civic responsibility for intense activity in a sustainable neighbourhood. Lord Rogers would approve.

    Of the thousands of houses built over the past two years, Hemingway said: "Most don't even come to 1 per cent of the standards being achieved here. Everyone from supermarkets to carmakers has had to compete on quality and giving people what they want. Why not on housing? We know it can be done. The public have got to demad more," he said.

    Roger Evans, who devised the master plan, noted that it had taken ten years to get it through all the public bodies that had to be negotiated with. "There are too many," he said. "The effort was daunting."

    As the Rogers report put it: "This is not a question of regulation � We must use the skills and talents of good designers, rather than depend heavily on manuals and controls which have failed to deliver."

    Prescott acknowledged the problem. "We failed in the past. We lost our way. We can have the vision in ten weeks but it takes ten years to get through the bureaucracy."

    Taming the bureaucracy: now there's a vision for you, Mr Prescott.

    Sales are zipping along due to the quality of the design.

    Abode with me: the development by Copthorn Homes in Harlow is a clever take on old towns - a case of wood, stone and thatch meet atriums and aluminium. The scheme's design consultant, Wayne Hemingway, below left, believes in quality: "The public have got to demand more"

  • 2003-06-02 - Evening Standard - A new vision of living

    Copthorn Homes new development, abode, offers a range of 82 individually designed contemporary homes, by the award winning architects Proctor and Matthews.

    Set within an idyllic rural landscape, this outstanding new community is located just twenty-five miles northeast of London, on the outskirts of Harlow, off Junction 7 of the M11.

    PART EXCHANGE AVAILABLE ON SELECTED PLOTS ONLY Please see our sales consultants for details

    10.30am to 5.30pm

    A selection of 3 and 4 bedroom houses with prices from �290,000 to �450,000 1211 sq.ft to 2252sq.ft.
    Call now 01279 639309


  • 2003-02-03 - The Herald - How a family has designs on new homes for a town...

    Special report by CLARE DEADMAN.

    Building work on the last planned major house development in a west Essex town is well underway.

    Newhall iin Harlow will have 2,800 homes when it is completed, together with supporting amenities such as shops, play areas and a community centre on the 200-acre site. Already the development has been getting national publicity for the quality of design and involvement of the family who sold the land to a clutch of developers.

    The land, owned by the Moen family, was previously used to grow vegetables, and the parts not being built on at the moment are being used to farm cereal. Most of the family moved away from Harlow more than 10 years ago and are no longer involved in agriculture. But rather than walk away and let builders have a free hand, Jon and William Moen have inisisted on having a large measure of control over the architecture and facilities.

    To ensure that they do, they have even set up their own company, Newhall Projects Ltd, which is actively involved in the development.

    Building work on the first part of the first of three phases of the development started in autumn 2000.

    Phase one, to be finished in 2005, involves the construction of 440 homes - 25% of which are affordable - two play areas and a community hall, Harlow Council neighbourhood centre and shops in a barn that is to be refurbished.

    The Moens, who acquired the land in the early 1930s, are involved in the project because they want buildings of a high standard developed and were disappointed with the design and layout of homes on a piece of their land in Church Langley.

    John Moen, director of Newhall Projects, told The Herald: "Part of our aim is to liberate architects from the more conventional building industry constraints to marry their vision with reality, to create a community which will both invigorate the people currently living in it and stand the pace of time in a true sense of stewardship of the land."

    He added: "We have been delighted with the high quality craftsmanship and attention to detail of Copthorn's work at Abode, which has fulfilled all our aspirations for the development."

    The project is the country's first contemporary Greenfield neighbourhood to be built on the outskirts of a new town.

    It involved 10 parcels of land being sold to different developers so that there will be a variety of designs in the area.

    Plans fit in with Sir Frederick Gibberd's master plan drawn up in the 1940s for the development of Harlow and those drawn up by Roger Evans, with the help of the Moen family, 10 years ago.

    All streams, woodland and hedgerow are to be left intact and all houses will be no more than one block away from green spaces.

    As well as this, residents' associations and societies will be formed to look after areas of Newhall, there will be a 20mph speed limit, walking and cycling will be encouraged, parking areas hidden and solar heating will be used in some properties.

    Large investment has also been made in environmental measures for sustained urban drainage like channelling water from the homes to a balancing lake, which will mean in about seven years' time some houses will have a lakeside frontage.

    So far Barratt Homes has built 63 homes and all have been sold.

    Copthorn Homes started work on developing its 82 properties - 13 one and two-bedroom flats, 57 two to five-bedroom houses and 12 one to three-bedroom mews houses - in November 2001 and so far 10 have been sold.

    Copthorn Homes won the housing design award at the RIBA Housing Design Awards last year for its part of the Newhall development, called Abode, and hopes to have all its homes completed by the end of 2004. Prices will range from �140,000 to �450,000.

    The next phase of 75 houses and flats will be developed by CALA in conjunction with Newhall Projects.

    Mr Moen said he does not know when the planning application for development of around 2,500 homes will be submitted to Harlow Council as he is waiting for the new Local Plan to be finalised.

    However, he explained that a school would have to be built when the 2,500 homes are developed.

    Newhall designs, top left a street scene, far left one and two bedroom apartments, and above, mews houses.

    Above, large terraced family homes to be built at Newhall.

  • 2001-10-18 - Sunday Times - Essex's 21st-century village

    Newhall in Harlow will show whether the public really likes modern architecture, says Josephine Smit

    Jon and William Moen's grandfather farmed the Essex countryside. Today, the big money lies not in farming but in houses: the land is a prime target for development as the government seeks to meet the demand for homes in the southeast.

    The brothers sold farmland to developers 20 years ago. That land became Church Langley, a prime example of new estate development of its time, with street after street of standard houses, all in a uniformly bland Tudorbethan style.

    Today, the Moens are members of a consortium selling more than 200 acres of land for residential development on the outskirts of Harlow,. This time, however, the consortium, New Hall Projects, is determined that the green fields of Essex will not be covered in yet more dull housing. The aim is to create Newhall, a village for the 21st century with 2,800 homes that are not only new, but look new, with an unashamedly modern design.

    It has taken almost a decade to bring Newhall to life, and for the Moen brothers it has been almost a personal crusade. Like most landowners, they sold their previous farmland unconditionally and had no control over what was built. Housebuilders built the standard house types that they believed the public liked. The Moens were bitterly disappointed with the results. This time round, they aim to prove the public has an appetite for contemporary style.

    "It is important to show that we can get good values for the land and we think good architecture will produce good values. We didn't want pastiche," says Jon Moen. "We want to show that good architecture can be done in a commercially viable way," adds William. The demonstration is being made on a large scale: Newhall will have 6,000 residents. Development of the first phase of 440 homes will take three to four years and the whole settlement will be built over decades.

    The landowning consortium is selling the Newhall land in small parcels, enough for no more than 100 homes at a time, to encourage diversity in design. And to ensure developers maintain high standards of modern design, the consortium is selling the land with strings attached. Homes must fit into a street layout the consortium had designed by Roger Evans Associates, while facades, roofs, paintwork and paths must comply with palettes of colours and materials. The consortium commissioned the artist Tom Porter to create these after research into local vernacular architecture. There are even guidelines for the street lighting and road signs.

    Persuading housebuilders to work to the modern brief has not been easy. The consortium is inviting builders to bid for sites and to submit their designs for approval. Housebuilders' first bids included some disappointinly traditional designs, including one with mock-Georgian homes. "We have found a lot of enthusiasm, but a lot of developers have not understood what we are about," says William.

    So far, the consortium has sold land to two housebuilders, Barratt and Copthorn Homes. Barratt is the first housebuilder to arrive at Newhall, where it is developing 94 one to five-bedroom homes under the distinctly unmodern scheme name of Maypole Green. Its homes do not look particularly avant-garde, with brick exteriors, pitched roofs and cottage-style bay windows, but they are a change from the usual suburban new homes, going for an almmost stark plainness without fiddly porches and the kind of unauthentic historical detail - Georgian, Victorian or a mixture of both - developers feel they need to tempt buyers. Barratt says modern homes in Newhall,priced from �149,995 for a two-bedroom apartment to �329.995 for the largest five-bedroom house, are selling well. "There is a growing demand for contemporary architecture on suburban schemes like this," says Brian Bloomfield, for Barratt. "The response of buyers seems to bear this out."

    Copthorn Homes plans to be much more adventurous with its designs, although it is promising to use thatch as a roofing material. Its 82 homes, designed by Proctor Matthews, the modernist architects, will have dark-coloured exteriors with large expanses of glass and open loft-style interiors. The housebuilder will not be bringing its homes to market until next spring.

    The consortium is trying a different approach on its next piece of land for development, making it the subject of an architectural competition. It also plans to make plots available to self-builders with imaginative modern designs.

    Josephine Smit is editor of Building Homes magazine

    Barratt 01279 415 476, Copthorn Homes 01277 697 111

    New angle: developers at Newhall village are building contemporary-style homes, with landowners Jon Moen, below left, and brother William, encouraging design diversity