High Path in Merton has won the Urban Design and Masterplanning award at the Landscape Institute Awards 2019. In its 90th year, the awards recognise projects and individuals that create places that connect people, place and nature, and make a positive contribution to people’s lives.
High Path forms part of Clarion Housing Group’s wider Merton regeneration project, which is one of London’s most ambitious regeneration schemes. While the site is well located on the edge of the Wandle River ecological corridor near Wimbledon and benefits from great links to central London, the former layout left it as a tangle of competing uses and illegible streetscapes. As such, the estate was dislocated from its surrounding neighbourhood and its socio-economic profile was found to have higher levels of deprivation compared to the wider London Borough of Merton, and these were predicted to exacerbate over time without social or physical intervention.
In 2012, Clarion Housing Group appointed PRP’s architecture and landscape architect teams to develop a masterplan for the phased regeneration of the estate, which focused on the needs of the existing community and anticipated the requirements of future generations. PRP’s collaborative design celebrates the area’s character and rich history by reconnecting existing Victorian streets to the north of Merton High Street with the estate’s southern edge at High Path.
A number of character areas are included, which together with distinct neighbourhoods will help High Path become a unique and memorable place. At the heart is a new park that responds to the existing urban infrastructure and creates desire lines from north to south and east to west, along inner streets. Landscaped areas with lush planting, sensory gardens, simple paths, and play areas create a multifunctional green haven for all ages, all year around. This is bookended by hard landscaping to the south and north providing contrast, whilst drawing people in from Merton High Street.
Another key part of the Landscape team’s design is to create a destination on the edge of Wandle River ecological corridor. This will be encouraged by cycle paths and planting referencing the work of William Morris, leader of the arts and crafts movement and who once ran a textile mill at Merton Abbey on the banks of the river.
Angeli Ganoo-Fletcher, Landscape Director at PRP, said: “PRP has a passion to deliver true places and this is a key driver in our design approach. It also mirrors the philosophy of our client Clarion Housing Group, who has adopted Jan Gehl’s principles: First life, then spaces, and then buildings, as the other way around never works. With this in mind, we developed our vision for High Path in collaboration with the local community to ensure it becomes a sustainable and high-quality neighbourhood. The design promotes inclusion and diversity and is fully integrated with its surroundings to last for successive generations.”
Paul Quinn, Director of Merton Regeneration at Clarion said: “We are extremely pleased that High Path has been recognised for this important award.
“Clarion is passionate about developing vibrant, mixed and well-designed communities and working with PRP, we have designed a scheme that will enhance and celebrate the area’s identity, character and historical heritage, while delivering high quality housing to the area.”
Once complete, Clarion’s Merton regeneration project will include 2,800 new homes across three neighbourhoods. The project will rehouse all existing tenants and resident homeowners while providing an additional 1,800 properties for sale and rent, helping boost Merton’s supply of high-quality new housing.