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Big step in regeneration of Hillington Square Estate

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The completion of the regeneration of Lynn’s Hillington Square Estate has taken a significant step forward.

Plans for the final part of the project, which began in 2012, have been submitted to West Norfolk Council.

The proposal includes the demolition of four blocks of homes - Farrow House, Chestnut House, Aitken House and Norris House - to make way for the construction of much more attractive and energy efficient flats and townhouses.

A site plan showing the refurbished buildings (grey) and proposed new builds (red).
A site plan showing the refurbished buildings (grey) and proposed new builds (red).

A key factor in the design is opening up the space between the blocks, and protecting and enhancing the relationship with the oldest church in the town, the Grade 2 listed All Saints’, which sits centrally.

Cambridge-based architectural firm Feilden and Mawson, which has overseen three phases of the regeneration to critical acclaim, have submitted the plans on behalf of Freebridge Community Housing.

Feilden and Mawson said: “We believe the proposals...present a well considered and balanced approach to the site and a fairly complex set of constraints, importantly the close proximity to multiple conservation areas and listed buildings.

The proposed view from Providence Street to All Saints' Church, showing in red the demolition
The proposed view from Providence Street to All Saints' Church, showing in red the demolition

“The scheme has the comfort, health and wellbeing of its residents as a key aim, whilst providing a public realm in the form of an extensive landscaping scheme, providing convenient and pleasant walking and cycling routes for residents and visitors alike.

“The style of the buildings themselves seeks to be contemporary and relevant to its own time, whilst respecting the past and being sensitive to its context and local vernacular.”

A public consultation on the proposals was held by Freebridge earlier this year, although restricted by the coronavirus pandemic to online and a window display on the estate.

The proposals were generally well received, says the planning application, with some queries over the timing and nature of the demolition and construction.

There was also concern over the height of some of the new builds and the potential for privacy to be compromised by overlooking.

Feilden and Mawson said: “There were some comments about the scale of the properties along All Saints and Bridge Street and their relationship with the existing properties; the massing was revisited as a this along with input from the conservation officer and Historic England and has resulted in reducing the scale (three-storey to 2.5 storey) of some of the terraced houses, and in other cases stepping back the upper story and minimising the potential of overlooking by reducing the number of windows where the distance to the properties on the opposite side of the street is at its tightest.

The original estate was built at the end of the 1960s.

“The slab design with high-level walkways and open stairwells joining all dwellings exacerbated anti-social behaviour and lack of community pride,” said the architectural firm.

Refurbishments, which created around 190 flats, have been completed at Greyfriars House, Valentine House, Colby Court and, most latterly in 2018, Eldridge House.

The project to date has won a regional award and national commendation.

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