Bell Phillips draws on traditional housing types for a tenure-blind development in Essex


Kilian O’Sullivan

Designed by Bell Phillips, St Chads is the first project Thurrock Council has undertaken through Gloriana, a wholly-owned company it has set up to deliver new homes. The development, in Tilbury, Essex, comprises 128 new homes, conceived to be ‘tenure blind’, although the council is keen to encourage a mixed-tenure community through selected sales, which it believes will  help raise local aspirations and property values. The brownfield site, previously occupied by a secondary school, is on the north side of the town, where the adjacent marshland of the Thames flood plain provides views and leisure opportunities.


The competition-winning scheme sought to invest the development with a sense of place, employing a grid of streets that connects with the context, and a sequence of public spaces. Existing public spaces are linked with the surrounding countryside, and include a diagonal swathe of green space that gives distant views of Tilbury Docks.

Three housing typologies – avenue, street and mews – were developed, each with its own character and dimensions. One of the two avenues is a linear green park that provides amenity spaces as well as swales – an integral part of the sustainable drainage strategy for this low-lying area of the Thames estuary. There are two key house types: townhouse and courtyard house. The former, on 18-metre-wide streets, are terraced houses of two and three storeys with private rear gardens. The latter, on 11-metre-wide streets, each face sideways onto individual courtyard gardens. Together the two types form an urban block, with a terrace of each located back-to-back in a compact plan, an arrangement made possible by angling rear windows at 90 degrees to each other for privacy.


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