Detailed planning consent has been achieved for the comprehensive redevelopment of a highly successful established garden centre near to the historic National Trust village of Lacock, providing the opportunity to address not only the composite legacy of piecemeal growth since 1969, but also the constraints presented by the topography of the 10 hectare site, which falls over 10 metres from its highest point at the site entrance.
Intelligent re-contouring forms a level plateau on the lower part of the site, with the proposed buildings organised around courtyard spaces that form part of the level customer ‘path’ – the backbone of the entire site – linking together all of the garden centre activities for the benefit of customers and staff operations.
The group of new buildings have been designed with a sectional profile that minimises their scale and height, arranged to ‘nestle’ down into the site, beneath the rising landscape backdrop on the northern
site boundary. The design criteria derive from the need for flexible, functioning space, capable, on the one hand, of adapting to the operational needs of the business, and, on the other, of enhancing the customer experience by creating a distinctive sense of place.
The courtyard-facing buildings have been designed as contemporary ‘barns’, using simple traditional ‘planar’ forms arranged to provide a sense of enclosure, and constructed from a palette of good quality natural materials. Openings are kept simple and regular, drawn from the design typology of local tithe barns.
The client has implemented a philosophy of on-site resource self-sufficiency, with the installation of biomass boilers for heating. Renewable technology will utilise ground source heat pumps, roof planes orientated to gain maximum benefit for photovoltaic panels, and rainwater harvesting for irrigation.
A series of phased extensions make up the overall expansion of the garden centre as represented in the final masterplan: each will be structured to enable continuity of trading and minimise disruption for both customers and staff. The completed scheme will represent a ‘flagship’ for the future of the garden centre industry.