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Architecture students get close-up look at multimillion pound Cambridge homes scheme

Architecture students from Neale-Wade Academy in March, Cambridgeshire, gained real-world construction experience on a multimillion pound housing scheme in Cambridge with the help of local housing development company Lovell.

The Lovell team took the eight A-level students on a tour of the large-scale regeneration programme which the company is working on in partnership with Iceni Homes in Cambridge. Work began this autumn on the £6.75 million project for Hundred Houses Society which will see the Eastfield neighbourhood in Chesterton redeveloped with 50 new modern and energy-efficient new homes.

During their two-hour visit, the Neale-Wade students benefited from a close-up view of the construction process and found out more about the extensive infrastructure – including shared green spaces, rain gardens (landscaped planted areas allowing rain water to drain into the soil), integrated cycle paths and off-street parking – being created through the regeneration programme. Incorporating high standards of energy-efficiency and insulation, the new homes will range from one-bedroom apartments to three-bedroom houses, with all properties designed to the ‘Lifetime Homes Standard’, meaning they can be easily adapted as residents’ needs change. They also had the chance to talk to site manager Adam Graham and assistant site manager Joseph Dean about how homes are costed, the planning process and the scheduling of the construction programme.

The visit will feed into and support the students’ A-level Architecture project work which includes designing a building. Paula Brenchley, vice principal at Neale-Wade Academy, who visited the site with the students, says: “The students are producing an architectural design for their A level coursework and this visit has provided them with an excellent opportunity to see how the real world operates. They now understand how a building would be constructed from the ground up and the type of materials and methods applied in high-quality modern construction. Since the visit they have all adapted their own design ideas to include the sustainable methods and technical information they gathered during the visit. In addition to this, a couple of the students have researched into construction apprenticeships, a career path they hadn’t previously considered. We were impressed by the welcome we received from the Lovell team and are very much looking forward to a return visit.”

Lovell site manager Adam Graham says: “Sharing our knowledge and providing young people with opportunities to extend their awareness of our industry is important to help develop the next generation of construction professionals and encourage them to get excited about construction careers. We believe the benefits of development programmes should extend as widely as possible into the community and organising activities like this forms an important part of that commitment. We really enjoyed having the Neale-Wade Academy students on site and hope to arrange a second visit next year so they can keep following the progress of the scheme.”

In a partnership with Iceni Homes and Lovell, Hundred Houses will replace 26 existing homes with 50 new-build properties at Eastfield. The new housing will feature 35 affordable rent homes and 15 shared ownership homes, all of which will be managed by Hundred Houses Society. Partly funded by the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency, the scheme is due to be completed in March 2018.