Mill Hill Close Residential Project
The Mill Hill Close residential project consists of 14 one and two bedroom flats within three adjoining blocks, set towards the southern end of the Mill Hill Close Conservation Area. The original development to the North of the site was designed in the late 1930s by prominent local architect Harold Turner. It is formed of 33 properties, designed in the Arts & Crafts style, set around formally landscaped gardens.
As well as being a key example of Turner’s work, the existing Mill Hill Close development represents a well-preserved example of the uniquely English concept of the garden suburb, bringing the idyll of the cottage and cottage garden into a planned suburban format. The quality of the built design, along with the use of specific architectural features and materials, means the area is of special interest.
The ICE Benevolent Fund (who own and manage the properties and gardens) wanted to develop the area between Mill Hill Close and Balcombe Road in a way that would generate long-term income for the Benevolent Fund and sustain the existing community and Conservation Area.
The new development was carefully designed and detailed to complement the existing, whilst incorporating a slightly more contemporary feel. Steep pitched roofs, gables, traditional eave and verge detailing, decorative brickwork and locally sourced high-quality facing bricks and plain clay tiles all contribute to the character of the scheme.
The significant change in level across the site created the opportunity for pleasing stepped rooflines whilst the staggered footprint gives the impression of a series of buildings, rather than a continuous terrace. These key elements of the design were incorporated from the first sketch proposals to ensure the slightly increased massing worked within the conservation area setting and also provide a transition to the larger, more recent buildings to the South.
The scheme’s design and massing was developed through close consultation with the local planning and conservation area officers. Local and national policy guidelines were met both in terms of the design (which conserves and enhances the physical and natural environment and the local area), and by using high-quality contemporary construction to provide good levels of sustainability for the future.
All flats are dual aspect with excellent natural lighting. The orientation takes advantage of morning and evening sunlight, avoiding excessive heat gain from the south. High levels of insulation, efficient boilers, recycling facilities, low water usage, low energy lighting and limited water run-off all contribute to the high level of sustainability in the building.
Communal gardens have been provided and the whole site has been sympathetically landscaped so that it is in keeping with the quality of existing gardens within the Close. A thick belt of mature trees to the West and South of the site were protected and retained during construction and now provide a visual break for the existing properties to the west of Balcombe Road.
The development is deserving of an award for its sensitive approach to sustainable new housing within a conservation area.