In late 2007, South Oxfordshire District Council and developer Hammerson plc initiated a design competition for the retail-led expansion masterplan of central Didcot, a fast growing railway town of 27,000 south of Oxford. The existing town centre mainly consisted of a recent shopping mall with surface car parking and hardly had any significant public spaces.
I have co-supervised the bidding process, and our team has subsequently won the bid with a visionary document on the creation of a truly mixed-use 'town centre' rather than just an extension to the existing shopping mall. This new town centre would focus on a new central square, a public space Didcot was previously missing.
In preparation of the design options, the town of Didcot has been thoroughly analysed from a spatial, economic and social context. Following this analysis, a 'strategic framework' was created in which all scenarios would fit. This framework provides guidelines on spatial connections, central focal spaces and programmatical requirements for a vital town centre.
The design scenarios fits over 20.000m2 of anchored retail, civic functions and 200-400 units of housing into the 4ha site. Several different parking solutions have been designed with cost and phasing in mind.
The design has resulted in public and stakeholder consultation sessions, and a design and implementation report has been created, including space calculations. The design has been translated into planning code by the council.