St Cuthbert's Garden Village
Early drawings of the £144m garden village. Credit: via Carlisle City Council

Park design contest kicks off St Cuthbert’s

Sarah Townsend

Carlisle City Council is scouting for companies to sketch plans for a public green space that would form the centrepiece of the 10,000-home garden village.

The two-stage competition asks companies, or teams of companies, to design a ‘Greenway and Park’ that would connect the different communities within the £144m St Cuthbert’s Garden Village – and become a visitor attraction in its own right.

The project has been named Start with the Park and would be located near Durdar and Blackwell so that it can serve existing and future Carlisle residents and residents of St Cuthbert’s, which is to be built just south of the city.

The ‘greenway’ would aim to encourage recreational and active travel, including walking and cycling, to boost connectivity within and beyond the garden village. In particular, the sustainable transport route would link up with major regeneration projects in Carlisle’s southern gateway area, such as planned railway station improvements, a new university campus and business space at the Citadels and Caldew Riverside, under the council’s vision.

St Cuthbert’s is one of 14 Garden Villages proposed across the country. Under the plans, a total of 10,325 homes would be built on the development site south of Carlisle over the next 30 years, to support local population growth and provide opportunities for economic development.

Following two rounds of consultation, the council has already adopted a ‘strategic design supplementary planning document’ for the garden village. Preparation of a separate local plan to guide the first development phase is now underway and there will be rounds of consultation on this in the future. Meanwhile, landowner negotiations are underway to unlock the scheme.

St Cuthbert’s is being funded by Carlisle council and Cumbria County Council, as well as Homes England and Government pots such as the Towns Deal and Future High Street Fund. The Start with a Park project is identified in the £19.7m Carlisle Town Deal Investment Plan, alongside six other schemes, and the competition marks the first step towards designing the village.

Run in partnership with professional body the Landscape Institute and sponsored by United Utilities, it is open to professionals and students across a range of disciplines. The professional competition will follow a two-stage process at the end of which the intention is to award a contract for the delivery of the winning scheme, subject to the talks with landowners.

The student competition will have a single stage, with applicants invited to answer the question: If St Cuthbert’s is to ‘start with the park’, how would you design the park to ensure that it is the heart of the garden village?’ Full details of the competition can be found here.

Cllr Paul Nedved, portfolio holder for economy, enterprise and housing at Carliels City Council, said: “Emerging from the post-pandemic world, St Cuthbert’s provides an opportunity to rethink how we want to live and redefine the garden village concept for the 21st century.

“Following the ‘Start with the Park’ approach, we hope to lead the way and are looking for creative designers to work with us on the delivery of innovation in green infrastructure and landscape-led masterplanning.”

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