Tirion Homes picked up Best Residential Development of the Year at the Wales Property Awards 2019 last night (Thursday 13 June) for The Mill, Canton.
Situated at the site of the former Arjo Wiggins Teape paper mill at Ely Bridge Cardiff, The Mill has transformed the derelict 53-acre, brownfield site into one of Cardiff’s most attractive, sustainable residential communities.
The overall development will create up to 800 homes, extensive green communal spaces and riverside park and a neighbourhood hub with a variety of shops and a Doctors surgery forming the heart of the development. With phase 1a now complete, the 102 units already breathe new life into this previously neglected plot of land, offering a high quality neighbourhood that has a distinct sense of place.
There are a mix of unit types available ranging from one bedroom apartments to four bedroom family homes with over half of the completed development being affordable.
From the outset the vision for The Mill was to provide high quality, flexible, sustainable homes within the framework of the masterplan that had ‘place making’ as its principle driver. Homes based around a network of legible, high quality shared spaces with a strong landscape infrastructure to foster the development of a new community.
What has made the success of the development all the more impressive was that there were a number of challenges early on in the design process – testing of the initial concept masterplan constraints identified a conflict between the client’s aspirations for the type and density of homes to be provided and the developable area of the site, resulting in a shortfall of circa 100 homes across the site. This posed the challenge could Tirion Homes design tenure neutral family housing to deliver high quality homes within a reduced space standard at increased densities, whilst still achieving the vision for a high quality new neighbourhood?
To meet this challenge, Tirion Homes worked collaboratively as a design team to demonstrate to Cardiff Council Planning and Housing teams that the traditional approach to DQR compliant housing was not essential to deliver quality homes. In the early design team workshops it identified key themes for the detailed design of the homes along with the principle that, regardless of tenure, the homes needed to be Liveable, Flexible, Sustainable and Affordable.
Tirion Homes explored what it is in DQR that gives the most value to the residents, for how people live today and how they may live in the future, as well as what the private sector were doing well. It focused on what added value by through the design.
The general space standards and storage requirements in terms of room sizes and furniture layouts were critical; Tirion Homes recognised the contribution they make in terms of a home being liveable and flexible, but it believed that specific locations and adjacencies of rooms increased circulation space at the expense of living space.
A mix of approaches to internal layouts became desirable, providing a combination of open plan living spaces, which can be great for young families, as well as more cellular for other types of occupant. Tirion Homes focused on private rear garden size to be considered against the backdrop of the amenity provided by the high quality shared public space within the site including the river park and the new footbridge connection across to Trelai Park allowing for an increase in density of development across some areas of the site.
The result of Tirion Homes’ detailed study was the development of a suite of house types and apartment types that overcame initial objections of Cardiff Council planning and housing teams, increased density across the reduced developable site area and recovered the previous loss of units enabling the development to proceed.