Today marks the 20th anniversary of the ground-breaking Caterham Barracks Community Planning Weekend, facilitated by JTP on behalf of Linden Homes. Between Friday 27 and Tuesday 3 March 1998 over 1000 people attended the Weekend to create a Vision for what was to become the Village at Caterham, a pioneering, mixed-use neighbourhood with its own Community Development Trust.
The success of the Village at Caterham has been recognised through numerous national and international awards, including the Building for Life 2005 Gold Standard Award and the RTPI National Awards for Planning Achievement 2000 ‘Award for Planning for the Whole Community’.
The extensive mixed-use development of converted and remodelled buildings and specially designed new residential units... cannot be bettered.
Building for Life 2005, Judges’ Evaluation
For more than 100 years, Caterham army barracks dominated the town of Caterham-on-the-Hill. Following the closure of the barracks in 1995 there were significant impacts on the social and economic life of the town.
Linden Homes appointed JTP to create a new masterplan for the site using their unique participatory planning process, including a Community Planning Weekend. This marked the first time that a large-scale collaborative planning process had been promoted in the UK by a private developer.
The Caterham Barracks Community Planning Weekend took place between 27 February and 3 March 1998, and was attended by more than 1,000 people.
The event was structured around a combination of topic-based workshops, together with many hands-on planning sessions, through which participants could discuss and actively contribute their design ideas. Teenagers from several local schools were involved, and local people could tour the barracks by bus.
Over the course of the weekend a consensus emerged in favour of creating a balanced village community, including more than 360 homes integrating affordable and private tenures indistinguishably, and a mix of uses including community facilities set in a high-quality environment respectful of the heritage of the site.
Participants identified possible community uses for existing buildings retained as part of the new neighbourhood, to be paid for by the increase in the number of homes provided on site. These uses have, by and large, stood the test of time.
Local resident Marilyn Payne led the call for more facilities for young people, and within a few months ‘Skaterham’, a youth project providing skateboard, inline and BMX facilities, was set up in the former gymnasium. In March 2002 it transferred from the gymnasium to the listed chapel, and now has thousands of active members. JTP continues to proactively support the development of Skaterham both financially and more directly, most recently through the creation of visualiations to support proposals for a new cafe as pro bono work.
The Community Planning Weekend marked the beginning of an ongoing process of collaboration between the community, the developers and the local authority, with the aim of creating a responsive new neighbourhood with a strong sense of place.
In due course, a series of recommendations were presented to Tandridge District Council with full community backing. The council granted outline planning approval in June 1999, with the proposals delivered through a six-phase programme that was completed in 2008.
Governance of the new Village at Caterham was focused through the foundation of a Community Development Trust. This was the direct result of the Community Planning Weekend, during which local people expressed a desire for ongoing involvement in the creation and running of the community.
More information on the ground-breaking collaborative process, the resulting mixed-use neighbourhood and its long-term community benefits can be found in Social Sustainability, a book published by JTP in 2013.
The process is also described as a case study in a new book “20/20 visions: Collaborative Planning and Placemaking” by JTP Partner Charles Campion, to be published by RIBA in May 2018.