The Avenue

The Avenue

2009 - 2014

CB11 3EB
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  • Site area 2.9

This development, on part of The Friends’ School site in Saffron Walden, is for 76 new homes ranging from one-bedroom flats to five-bedroom detached houses. It includes 25% affordable housing and 18 flats and small houses specifically designed for the over-55 market.

The school selected Hill Residential and PTE through a competitive process in 2008 to deliver a viable residential development to fund a new junior school and improvements to the existing main school building. The scheme responds sensitively to its mature landscaped context, within a Conservation Area and adjacent to a listed water tower. It creates a series of character areas which reflect the pattern and character of the neighbouring townscape and also maintains and enhances the intrinsic qualities of the site.

The heart of the scheme is a retained avenue of mature lime trees, The Avenue. The homes here are arranged around courtyards behind a new garden wall, or are set back beyond grassed and planted verges. The new landscaping includes relocated native hedgerows, planted fruit trees from existing rootstock on the site, and retention of most of the mature trees.

The development won a RIBA National Award in 2016. On presenting the award the judges commented: ‘The Avenue represents the best of new housing developments: a committed client, a skilled architect, and a site with a fabulous mature landscape. The lack of a pattern book of designs meant the architect was able to develop its own kit of parts, without reducing individuality or variety across the scheme. The palette of materials is traditional but the detailing is modern and crisp. The housing off the main avenue forms a series of courtyards that strike a clever mix of coherence and community for the owners. This is a great lesson in defensible space without the requirement for any signage – simple and successful urban design in action.’

The national winners will now go on to be considered for the Stirling Prize – the biggest prize in UK architecture. A shortlist will be announced later in the summer and the winner is set to be revealed in October.

Click here to see the Housing Design Award film.


  • RIBA National Award 2016
  • RIBA Regional Award 2016
  • Building Award 2015
  • Civic Trust Award 2015
  • Housing Design Award 2015
  • RICS London and South East Award 2015
  • Brick Award 2015
  • Sunday Times British Homes Award 2014
  • Housebuilder Award 2014
  • What House? Award 2014
  • What House? Award 2014
  • Placemaking Award 2014
  • Housing Design Project Award 2011