Village Extension, Latchingdon, Essex
Expanding and improving a ribbon village to create new homes and a new large village square with amenities
This ribbon village is strung out along a busy A road and lacks a village centre. The essential communal facilities, which normally sit together to define a village centre, have become stretched out with no focal point. As traffic volumes have vastly increased this has reduced the quality of village life so that walking is not always an attractive , or safe, option.
The separation of key communal and parish functions reduces the opportunity for fruitful village life, ie. bumping into neighbours on foot and informal community interaction.The bolt-on housing estates that were added between the 1950's and 1980s have further weakened the sense of community, encouraging people to use their cars, even for very local journeys.
Latchingdon has the opportunity to re-focus village life away from the traffic hotspot that is "The Street" by creating a new village centre. The task is to link together the existing facilities along new pedestrian routes, whilst at the same time creating a new visual and functional destination.
Any new development must avoid exacerbating the sequential- growth problem that Latchingdon has experienced over the past century. The addition of yet more bolt-on closes will hasten its decline into a mere dormitory housing estate rather than create a vibrant village where young and old alike can enjoy a green and pedestrian-friendly community.
Further development needs to be of sufficient scale and vision to heal the disparate elements of the village and bring them all together into a definable whole. The village requires a pedestrian-friendly focus that welcomes children and cyclists. The aim is to give communal activities a visual identity and physical space in the heart of the village. This proposal shows how this can be done, including a new village square and village green. The new development should feel like finding the missing piece of the jigsaw.