Oakfield, Swindon

Frameworks + Masterplans Mid Scale
View onto the park © MW + Nationwide
Oakfield masterplan
AIP cottages © MW + Nationwide
Community hub © MW + Nationwide
Public square © MW + Nationwide

239 high quality, fairly priced homes of mixed tenure, suitable for local people, from first time buyers to families and over 55s

 

CONTEXT

Oakfield isn’t a housing development.

Sure, it’s delivering 239 beautiful homes in Nationwide’s home town of Swindon. But it’s much more than that. It’s a new place. A place formed of a series of carefully designed public spaces, streets and public realm – with a generous new park and play area. A place which links existing communities together, and creates a new, connected community at its heart. A place that welcomes all ages, life-styles and life-stages. A place designed with and for the local community.

A former, but long redundant, university campus, Oakfield lies at the intersection of three distinct neighbourhoods - but hoarded off, unused and unloved for years, effectively formed an impenetrable barrier between communities.

Working closely with Swindon Borough Council and local people, and drawing in the design skills of Metropolitan Workshop and regeneration experience of Igloo, Nationwide is now bringing it back to life.

Nationwide believes that everyone should have a place to call home and as part of its social investment strategy is trialling a new way to increase the UK’s housing supply - delivering homes on zero profit, break-even basis from its CSR budget.

Oakfield, approved and currently under construction, will provide 239 homes. It will offer a wide mix of tenures, from Affordable Rent, to Shared Ownership & Rent to Buy, to market sale and PRS. It will provide a range of house-types (from 1- to 4-bed). And it will be suitable for local people at every stage of life, from first-time buyers, to second-steppers, families and over 55s.

 

VISION

Oakfield connects.

It’s more than homes. More than a place to live.

From the outset Nationwide had a vision “to create a strong community based on our mutual roots,”.

Oakfield has been designed to help people thrive, by connecting people together.

It will be an intergenerational community, where young people (key workers) live in flats next door to older people; where people are encouraged to support each other with their time and skills; a mixed community of
people with different life-styles and family arrangements, in homes of numerous different tenures, and sizes, with shared spaces and gardens for interaction, and homes designed to allow people to grow older without having to move; a community that looks beyond its site boundary, enhancing the adjacent school and welcoming neighbours in to its streets, its public realm and pocket parks, its park and play area.

We hope to set a benchmark:
‘’I’m really encouraged by the emerging architecture, it will heavily contribute towards creating a strong sense of place and a distinctive identity for the future community that will live here. Oakfield would set an exemplary design standard for the rest of our major housing developments across the Borough’’ Peter Garitsis, Urban Designer & Masterplanner, Swindon Borough Council.

Oakfield will be a place where people are not left isolated, but where some of life’s most basic needs, for community and company, can be met - where all are encouraged to play a role, not just to receive, but to give. Where everyone has value.

 

IMPACT

Oakfield is open.

It invites you in. It connects people. It’s permeable, and human scale, prioritising pedestrians and cycles. A new neighbourhood designed around a loose grid of streets and paths, it responds to the local context, linking surrounding neighbourhoods together, and connecting people to local amenities - shops, bus stops, walking and cycling routes, allotments and green spaces.

Quiet tertiary streets, shared surfaces, put people first (not the car) - designed as attractive spaces for young and old alike. Homes' living spaces look outward and provide 'eyes on the street' for visual connection and safety.
Opportunities abound to mix and form connections.

Front doors are arranged in pairs to allow for neighbourly interaction; communal courtyard gardens encourage collaboration; and 'pocket parks' pop up across the scheme where streets and paths meet, providing moments to just sit and dwell, and watch the world go by.

A brand new park forms the heart of the new neighbourhood, its dimensions designed to draw people in to enjoy the LUC-designed, native-species-planted landscape and natural-material play area for children.

A community hub provides space, managed by the community themselves, for local people within and outside the development to get together for a meeting, or a cup of tea, or to read the morning news.

And, much as Oakfield is designed to draw you in, it also looks to extend its influence beyond its boundaries. A Community Fund, part-financed by Nationwide, will improve links to the adjacent Oakfield Project school and enhance its landscaping and facilities, making this valued local asset financially viable for the long term

Importantly, it reconnects a fragmented local cycle network, reducing reliance on cars.

 

DELIVERABILITY

Oakfield explored a new approach to collaborative design, in order to create a place by and for local people.

We believe this approach was unique. Before any designs were drawn, Nationwide employed a full-time, professionally trained and accredited, Community Organiser to simply meet and listen to local people - to understand people’s likes and concerns, their hopes and fears - to inform our understanding of the place and inform a responsive, tailored brief.

We then held a series of 'Pop-up' and 'drop-in' sessions to hear from local people how we could design a place that knitted together with existing communities and places, and gave local people some of the things they felt they were missing, and more of what they like (from better road crossings and cycle paths, to space for dog walking, and quality spaces for children to play). At each design iteration, as the scheme evolved, the team returned to consult, listen, refine and adjust.

At planning, the scheme achieved zero objections.

Post-planning, our team then developed a set of tender documents which included detailed designs and specifications, to lock-in quality across the masterplan. Procured using a two-stage Design and Build process, during the first stage, our architects worked alongside the contractor for a six month period, to ensure details were developed using products and supply chains that the contractor was familiar with, and affordable. This ensured that proposals never strayed from our stringent quality aspirations.

Now the project is on site, the team are acting as Design Guardians, to review and comment on all Contractor Proposals and sub-contractor works packages. Phase 1 is set for completion in January 2022.

 

WORTH NOTING

With the assistance of an experienced design team, Oakfield has been designed by local people for local people to ensure that the homes the neighbourhood is inclusive to a wide variety of people.

The place we call Oakfield and the designs of all the varying types of homes have evolved dramatically over time following continued consultation with the wider community. They provided their feedback and ideas which have helped to shape the future neighbourhood and ensure that the needs of those that currently live there, will be fulfilled in the future.

Employing a fulltime Community Organiser meant that the team were able to connect with the existing local community and really listen to what their needs were without forcing them to comment within a restricted time frame. They were consulted with at the beginning, middle and at the end of the design and planning process and are now being consulted during the construction process.

The streets have been named by local people through a voting system and a dedicated website has been created with 24-hour filming of the construction process, keeping them abreast of the developments of the build and providing people with a better understanding of the construction process. An apprenticeship scheme has been created to provide employment within the wider community for young students. This will offer future opportunities to those that would not necessarily have the means and provide new skills that can been applied for future employment.

Project Team

Nationwide Building Society (Client)
Calfordseaden LLP
Geotechnical Engineering
Igloo Regeneration
Ruskins Trees
XCO2

Key Facts

Area: 5.2 hectares
Timescale: Inception to planning - 3 years
Construction: Phase 1 - 20 months​
Homes: 239 new intergenerational dwellings​
Density: 44 dwellings per hectare

Key Features
  • Mix of tenures: affordable rent,​ shared ownership & rent to buy, market sale and private rented​
  • Shared spaces and gardens for interaction ​
  • Range of homes to enable people to remain within the Oakfield community as they have families, become “empty nesters”, or enter into old age​
  • Range of house-types (from 1 to 4 bed)​