Cane Hill
Coulsdon, near Croydon
Barratt Homes
Planning authority
London Borough of Croydon
Shortlist, Housing Design Awards: Project Category, 2014
Winner, Graham Pye Housing Design Award 2017
Shortlist First Time Buyer Awards Best New Development in the South, 2019
Finalist, Inside Housing Development Award: Best residential development (rural/suburban) – Cane Hill Phase 1 2017

Cane Hill is a development of 667 homes on the site of a derelict hospital on Green Belt land just to the south of Coulsdon Town Centre. The layout was designed around the magnificent landscape which has dramatic topography, fantastic views and many large mature trees. A number of heritage buildings were also retained. 3d modelling of the whole site allowed us to tailor each part of the development to suit its particular setting, creating a network of linked landscape spaces framed by characterful housing and varied streets. The links provide connections for local people to the countryside, and a high level of amenity for residents.

Cane Hill celebrates the natural and historic character of this Green belt site and improves access to countryside for the existing community to create an exemplar sustainable development for the 21st century, delivered by a volume housebuilder in close collaboration with the GLA, Croydon council and the local community.  Phase 1 completed in 2017 and comprises of 187 homes, whilst phase 2 completed in 2021 delivers 472 homes to complete the masterplan which integrates this previously derelict site with the surrounding area and strengthens the links to Coulsdon town centre. 

Cane Hill sits to the south of Coulsdon Town Centre and is characterised by its dramatic topography and a rich establish landscape of mature woods, stand alone trees, hedgerows, fields and footpaths. The masterplan works with these features so that the site is always the star, delivering new houses that respect and enhance their setting, while having strong connections to Coulsdon town centre to bring economic activity to the high street and historic town. Retained hospital buildings, the Chapel and Water tower, are incorporated into the design to provide heritage focal points which aid navigation and provide a memory of the site’s previous use.

A new networks of streets is laid out based on existing routes where possible. Tree groups provide a focus to terminate views, and avenues are created using banks of mature trees. Green pedestrian links provide off-road walking routes through mature woodland that connect the village green at the centre of the new neighbourhood with Coulsdon Town Centre and the railway station. The development is organised into distinct character areas which use a different design approach tailored to the specific qualities of each part of the site.  The central ridge of mature trees forms a linear park bordered by the formal terrace of gable fronted houses, forming the Ridgeway character area, while to the east of the site on the open hillside which looks over the valley to Farthing Downs.

Detached houses are arranged in gentle sweeps to follow the contours of the hillside and reduce the impact on views.  At all points the character of the existing topography, long views onto the site, and the existing trees have driven the design, and result in housing that is strongly related to its natural context. Phase 1 is made up of houses from 2 to 3 storeys in height providing accommodation ranging from 2 to 5 bedrooms, for a diverse range of housing need. 

The architecture and materials are designed to respect the character of the local area.  Against the rural backdrop the homes have a contemporary feel with clean simple lines, generous windows, and brick corbelling to provide a detail at a human scale to entrances. Garages and car parks will be generally placed on plots behind the building line to minimise the impact of cars on public spaces. All homes are carefully positioned to ensure clear views out of windows and a positive relationship with the topography and with the retained mature trees on the site. 

This development presents an exemplar of how high quality public sector land can be brought to the market, creating a model for similar green belt sites in or near town centre locations. It provides much-needed affordable family housing in response to local need and is designed to very high standards.

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