Finberry, a visionary and highly sustainable residential development in Ashford, comprises a collection of 1,100 thoughtfully designed homes. The development features an 80-bed extra care facility and nine live work units, alongside community assets such as a primary school, community centre, employment and commercial space. Finberry is the realisation of a vision that’s not just about building and infrastructure, but the people and lifestyles that shape our communities.
Finberry is a key growth area for Ashford Borough Council, providing much needed housing and community assets. However, the costly technical challenges such as its proximity to a flood plain coupled with low sales values made the scheme commercially unviable initially.
This challenging site was successfully unlocked with the help of HCA funding and has now flourished into an exemplary development
Winner of “Outstanding Landscaping for Housing” Sunday Times British Homes Awards 2017
Constructing the site access road was a significant technical challenge faced at commencement of development, with the requirement to cross approximately 1km of active flood plain to access the developable area. Rather than see this as simply a constraint, Crest Nicholson saw this as an opportunity to deliver a heavily landscaped entrance to the scheme, including ecological wetland areas and three ornamental lakes amongst high quality landscaping.
Designed to be a sustainable and multi-purpose development; environmental, commercial and educational infrastructure projects were considered throughout the entire Finberry planning process.
In order to unlock the development, a 1km causeway including two bridges, flood relief culverts and three lakes costing £16 million was constructed. This provides a sustainable and visually appealing access to the site with minimal environmental disruption, whilst raising the development above the surrounding East Stour River flood plain.
SUDs drainage basins were delivered to ensure surface water is attenuated before being discharged. The basins were incorporated into the wider open-space strategy, introducing a pontoon deck and a bridge across the basins to improve accessibility and interest.
As a wetland habitat of ecological importance, environmental experts worked closely to protect and enhance the natural environment. Crest Nicholson has worked to provide the community with access to the previously inaccessible, less sensitive areas of the site’s Ancient Woodland. Pathways link open-spaces on either side of the woodland and an outdoor classroom for Finberry Primary School, which opened on site in 2018, has been introduced, whilst ensuring the woodland is safeguarded.
To protect and improve the habitat of the native Great Crested Newts, a gated reserve area has been delivered, allowing students to learn about Finberry’s ecology.
The Village centre lies at the heart of Finberry, offering residents immediate access to amenities, including business space, retail outlets, Finberry Primary School, a recently opened playpark and nine ‘Live-Work’ units.
The ‘Live-Work’ units, each with ground floor commercial space and two floors of family living space, were an essential part of infrastructure planning and provide economic and social benefits to the purchaser and community alike.
Planners connected Finberry’s residents and community to the surrounding countryside through a site-wide, multi-functional green grid system, encouraging people to walk and cycle around the development.
To date, the Finberry development has been 15 years in the making, following planning, financial, and technical challenges, all of which make it a unique and original site.
The development is a perfect example of how a project with financial viability challenges can be unlocked through the provision of HCA funding. This funding has facilitated considered development of the surrounding area, which coupled with intelligent infrastructure planning has ensured that the community is set to flourish for generations to come.
Bringing this ethos to life, the local community have been consulted regarding each stage of Finberry’s development.
A Planning Application for a combined Community Centre and sports facility will be submitted in 2019, with construction programmed to commence by the end of 2019. In addition, an extra care facility will provide assisted living for 80 older people, with communal areas for socialising.
“One of the most attractive aspects of living in Ashford is the quality of life it offers and the provision of high-quality housing is a top priority,”
“We demand exceptional standards in both the design and build of new housing and Finberry is an example of what can be achieved, successfully combining first-rate neighbourhood amenities with green space and easy access to the countryside”
Crest House, Pyrcroft Road, Chertsey, Surrey, KT16 9GN