Heughscar Close, Pooley Bridge, Cumbria
Region: North West
Local Authority: Eden
Summary: Heughscar Close is an affordable housing scheme in Pooley Bridge. The design of the scheme has clearly drawn on the local vernacular to provide a scheme that fits well within the village.
Pooley Bridge lies at the northern end of Ullswater and is popular with tourists visiting the Lake District. A narrow historic bridge marks the entrance to the village at its southern end after which the road turns into a wide market area lined by a row of shops and houses on one side and detached houses on the other.
Heaghscar Close lies on a previously undeveloped site at the south-eastern corner of the market area closing the view obtained as the visitor crosses the bridge into the village.
The scheme consists of two ranges of houses on the west and south sides of the site facing into a parking court. The use of materials and features responds well to the local vernacular - roughcast rendered walls, stone slate roofs, ‘stone’ framed windows, side hung casements to ground floor (although pivoting windows are used in the first floor) and stone arch over doorway/passage at rear. The slightly projecting eaves and brackets articulate the eaves level. The chimney stacks add interest and detail as does the projecting /additional porch structures. The materials and details such as the arched opening in the rear elevation of the main range reflect the character of historic buildings in the village.
This scheme has successfully provided a number of much needed affordable homes in a sensitive historic location where there is a high demand for affordable housing. The overall form, scale and materials used reflect the local vernacular meaning that the development fits well within the village. The scheme also retained an historic stone boundary wall to the street frontage (but see below).
Are there aspects of the scheme that could be considered as being less successful?
The scheme is inward facing – the houses turn their back to the street in complete contrast to the pattern of historic buildings within the village which face the street. The street elevation is clearly defined as being the rear of the houses by the absence of a principal door, the use of French doors to one of the units and the presence of rotary washing lines in the small rear gardens. Whilst it is accepted that it may have been considered preferable to have the main entrances to the houses from the parking court, the elevation facing the market place could have been treated as the principal façade to maintain the overall character of the village.
The stone boundary wall matches the one on the opposite side of the adjacent public car park and there was certainly a case for its retention. In terms of the overall character of the settlement, however, it would have been worth considering the loss of the boundary wall to gain a more intimate relationship between the buildings and the public realm.
Keywords: DESIGN IN CONTEXT