Gillespies to put ‘the Garden’ into Ebbsfleet Garden City

Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC) has appointed landscape architects Gillespies to develop a ‘Public Realm Strategy’ that will guide the design of the streets and parks in Ebbsfleet Garden City.

Gillespies will develop the strategy to inform the design of public spaces within this exemplary 21st Century sustainable community in Ebbsfleet, Kent. The Garden City will provide a major new commercial centre, an improved public transport system, seven city parks, and up to 15,000 new homes over the next 15 years.

A key goal for the strategy is to develop a consistent approach to the design of the city’s public spaces that is inspired by Kent’s landscape heritage as the ‘Garden of England’, and more specifically by Ebbsfleet’s unique post-industrial landscape of chalk cliffs and blue lakes that reference over 150 years of quarrying in the area.

The strategy will develop this vision into practical principles and advice for developing a sustainable, high-quality public realm that is affordable enough to deliver today, and sustainable to manage and maintain in the future. Gillespies will work closely with cost consultants Gardiner & Theobald to create a life cycle costing approach and tool that can be used to evaluate the public realm in relationship to future life cycle costs. This costing aspect of the strategy is unique to the Garden City and will help the EDC to identify the life cycle costs of potential design solutions for the public realm.

Simon Harrison, head of design for Ebbsfleet Garden City, commented: “We now ask our streets and public spaces to do so much more than in the days of Ebenezer Howard and Welwyn garden City, and yet the design of our streets remain as critical today to supporting healthy lifestyles and happy communities as it was back then. This work is critical to delivering a healthy, safe and beautiful ‘garden’ for the Garden City that is affordable to deliver today, and sustainable to manage tomorrow”

Gillespies will work closely with the EDC to develop design processes, evaluation tools, planting strategies and design guidance for a range of street typologies, public squares, and parks. The design guidance will develop recommendations for design principles, material palettes, design details, and site furnishings that will be used to instruct the design and implementation of the evolving public realm. In parallel with the design guidance, Gillespies will also craft a complementary planting strategy based upon the landscape character assessment that picks up on the themes of ‘Edible Ebbsfleet’ and Kent’s agricultural heritage, as well as integrating sustainable urban drainage systems, and green streets into the public realm.

Sheena Bell, senior associate at Gillespies, said: “This is an incredibly exciting commission for us that builds on almost 15 years of working within the Ebbsfleet area. We are looking forward to working with EDC to interpret the rich cultural heritage of the area into an inspiring guide that is both ambitious and practical”

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