Since the Special General Meeting lots has been going on and we feel that we are making real progress with the project.
Board Directors Alistair and Barry wanted to give you an update about what has been keeping the Directors busy.
Reed Watts was chosen as the Dorchester Area Community Land Trust’s preferred architects for the Trust’s first project namely the provision of 20 affordable housing units for young Dorchester workers on the site of the tennis courts opposite the Borough Gardens at the bottom of West Walks. Reed Watts invited Directors of the DACLT to spend the day looking at the developments undertaken by the architects.
Matt Reed met us at Waterloo station and it was only a ten minute walk to the recently completed block of 30 “Pocket Living” flats in Sail Street. We were able to inspect one of the flats which, like all the others in the building, only occupies 38 square metres. The flat was more than spacious enough to contain a main living area and kitchen area, a bedroom with a double bed, a wet room with shower, toilet and hand basin, a built-in storage cupboard with connections for a washing machine and a small hallway. For more details of our visit please read Andy’s recent blog!
The “Pocket Living” model is a fine example of thoughtful design which could easily be incorporated into the Trust’s first project.
Thoughts on Construction
We then went on to Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre where Reed Watts designed a new Rehearsal Studio and other facilities on a very challenging site. Construction is well under way and we were impressed to see how modern technology had allowed building of the base footprint to come within three feet of a mature tree without damage to either the tree or its root system. Trees are a very important feature of the tennis court site – they are also very important in Royal Parks !
Seeing what could be done in Regent’s Park reassured us, and the many others who have commented, that careful design, coupled with considerate construction techniques, can and does protect well-established trees and the wildlife corridors of which they form a part.
There is a very good video of the process that could be adopted by the DACLT with the Tennis Court project. Please have a look for yourself…
The whole trip was a most valuable learning exercise and we’d like to thank Matt Reed for both his time and patience in answering the many questions we posed. We returned to Dorchester with a spring in our step more convinced than ever that this first project is really “doable”.
Progress is Ongoing
The DACLT has made extraordinary progress over the past year and, with help and financial grants from Dorchester Town Council (DTC) and West Dorset District Council (WDDC), has now submitted a pre-planning application to WDDC’s Planning Department. Given the special nature of this particular project we are hopeful that the planning process will be expedited.
We are not there yet but we are satisfied with the progress we have made. In the words of many an astronaut “Watch this space” !
Alistair Chisholm and Barry Thompson