"Setting the brief – creating thriving communities and investment in local economies" by Mike Woolliscroft


With the arrival of a brand-new decade, comes critical challenges and opportunities for the new Parliament.

The ensuing and highly charged narrative surrounding home ownership, homelessness and community segregation has influenced successive governments’ agendas for the past decade.

The surge of new MPs taking up the green benches for the first time in Westminster should reinvigorate focus on housebuilding, but more so on creating sustainable communities for generations to come, further validating the work being undertaken by the commission championing beautiful buildings.  

As we have said before, a multitude of factors must work together in order to effectively unlock the potential of a place for everyone in mind.

This really hinges on housebuilders, housing associations and political authorities on the municipal and national levels working together to set and implement a suitable brief. 

Only through this will we realise the full potential of a scheme, particularly when it comes to optimising social and economic outcomes. 

Design-led building is and should be the blueprint for the way in which we expertly craft new places for people to live and work.

Looking beyond the obvious aspects of how a home appears within the four walls to its residents, high-quality design encapsulates how transport infrastructure, education and community facilities, leisure spaces and residential dwellings integrate with one another in order to make a positive impact.

The influence in which the architectural design of a development, down to the very street level, is powerful.

Beam Park, our new 3,000-home development being delivered through a joint venture between Countryside and L&Q on a GLA-owned site, is a prime example of how we work with partners.

The 71-acre regeneration will include major new infrastructure including a railway station, two primary schools, medical and multi-faith centres and a wealth of retail and commercial amenities.

Comprising a range of varied open spaces, which accounts for 77% of the masterplan, the project provides residents with a complete framework for living in a vibrant community, that encourages outdoor activities and social opportunities.

Taking careful consideration when developing a masterplan and involving the existing community from the outset ensures that design perspectives from a larger demographic are fed into how a place will be reimagined.

Aura, our award-winning project in Great Kneighton where we worked with Cambridge City Council and landscape architects, BBUK, is a prime example of a truly sustainable neighbourhood, which works for everyone.

Furthermore, this goes beyond creating homes for one type of resident. The longevity of a regeneration site is guaranteed greater success when it is designed with different segments of society in mind.

This means, by incorporating mixed-tenure homes, and even tenure-blind homes, into a development, a more inclusive and cosmopolitan community is catered for.

At Countryside, our mission – now over six decades old – has always been to go beyond just building homes, we strive to improve local economies and bring social value to everybody involved.

Under-considering the brief for a scheme and lack of investment in design comes at a cost not just for us as an industry but ultimately for the generations of people we strive to build for.

Countryside promotes Mike Woolliscroft to  Chief Executive of Partnerships South division
Mike Woolliscroft, Chief Executive, Partnerships South