Housing Design Awards

Housing Design Awards

2009 WINNING SCHEMES > Completed Winners

South Gate


Harrison Sutton Partnership

South Hams District Council /
Midas Homes / Sovereign Housing

Midas Homes

Planning Authority
South Hams District Council


Click on an image below for a larger view

South Gate
South Gate
South Gate
South Gate
South Gate
South Gate


The Lamb, South Gate, Totnes

South Gate is the marketing name for 53 new homes built in Totnes across four sites so different in layout and form that the architects consider each a discrete development. Conversely it is the total integration of planning authority, local people, architect and development team working together to deliver homes of every type which makes this scheme worthy of national attention.

South Hams District Council contains one of the country’s hotspot secondhome markets, typified by the inner-London pricing of Salcombe. This has had a bruising effect on housing options for people on local incomes and so the local authority began to tie together parts of the town centre with a plan to build the maximum number of new homes to cross subsidise affordable provision. The town didn’t like the original brief and a community group called Design our Space, in partnership with South Hams and local architects Harrison Sutton, produced new proposals. South Hams then formed a partnership with Midas Homes and Sovereign Housing Association to deliver all four parcels.

All sites are in a valley and a steep fall crosses the uppermost three, including the two parcels called The Lamb where two street frontages face each other and homes are built in steps to deal with the gradient. The north phase of The Lamb is a courtyard block where six town houses have integral garages accessed from the court side. Houses are jettied over the street and have balconies nibbed into facades. The terrace is met at the top by a refurbishment of an historic building which retains a commercial unit at ground floor and puts two new 2-bed apartments above it. Restored sashes to one facade and new high-performance windows to the other, means rounding the corner is a 200- year journey.

The south phase of The Lamb replaces the town houses with an intricate 3-storey house that back-to-backs with a maisonette facing the street at first and second level. The maisonette is accessed directly from the street, as is the house it backs up to. Houses have private rear gardens (only their windows overlook them) and units use sun pipes to mitigate against the single-aspect nature. Both terraces are book-ended at the bottom of the slope by prominent new-build blocks of seven apartments with spectacular views across the valley below and The Heathway phases.



The Heathway, South Gate, Totnes

Teetering down the steep valley brings into view the other elements of South Gate. The uppermost of these is The Heathway West, 10 townhouses of 4-storeys in two runs of five. A landscaped area behind these houses will become a new public ‘sculpture garden’ which will be closed off at dusk to avoid nuisance to new residents. The landscaped area has running water as a feature, part of the sustainable drainage for dealing with flash flooding off the steep slope. It channels water in a natural stone open culvert, skirting a pathway between the blocks of houses, before emptying into a new pond in front.

The houses have east-facing fronts and west- facing backs. A small terrace has been added to the facing elevation off the kitchen, designed for a morning hit of coffee and sun, while private rear gardens will make for superb alfresco dining. The rear of the houses have living space extending beyond the building footprint with a conservatory.

South Gate achieves EcoHomes Excellent. Townhouses have costed options of solar thermal or PV panels on the roofs. Again the approach of the partnership to boosting sustainability is refreshing, with the local authority agreeing to split the cost of upgrades to specification with its development partners. A final terrace of 10 homes on the other side of the street completes the development. This scheme includes a small public park forming the corner to the road, so that the terrace can be pulled back to form a continuous line with the existing properties stepping down the valley.

The local authority hit on a method of making sure the design anticipated by the architects at planning made it through to site. South Hams advertised for an adviser to assess the design quality of post planning drawings, which Harrison Sutton won in tender. This boosted the weight of Harrison Sutton’s advice to Midas (they were already novated). It became a dialogue where the architect was consulted on each drawing before it was issued, helping to clarify intricacies in the design which might have otherwise unravelled.

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