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So came across Chafford Hundred for the first time in my life, a development of 5,000 new homes in 90s and 00s. Judging from the pictures this looks one of the most souless places I've ever seen - 90s planning at its worst surely:



It makes me want to cry.

Is this the best we can do? Does anyone know anything else about this location or other examples of poor modern town planning I can get upset by.
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Why are developers so keen on blank canvases that they know will be covered in large graffiti in five minutes, and will stay unkempt- forever.



Type BT17 into Google maps, then ask for directions for White Rise to Ardcaoin Drive. 300 metres as the crow flies, 2.5 miles car journey in reality as they closed the path that links the two, presumably for some misguided security reasons. Virtually every estate of this kind in Ireland are designed with these ridiculous quirks that kill pedestrian traffic. And in this case the one gesture that acknowledges that most households don't have three cars in their driveway is killed off by the Secure By Design spirit. Because we all know there's nothing as welcoming as entering what looks like a through road only to be confronted by a brick wall at the end of a cul-de-sac.

I'd love to know more about Secure By Design as there's virtually nothing about it on the internet. As it's the child of the Metropolitan Police it's hard not to file it under 'potentially sinister' but I'd love someone to do a photo essay on it to show what it's all about.
Some points about the strengths & weaknesses of flats vs detached houses. Good soundproofing in the floors and walls of flats are not a high tech or luxury item, they are merely value engineered out of most real estate developments in recent decades. Flats & houses as a format can't be blamed for this, it's a poor design choice foisted upon us customers.

-Why do people covet detached houses over semis or even terraces. Other than an easy way to wheel your bin from the front of the house to the back what purpose does it serve. If you have a front & back garden then surely the bits to the side are wasted space.

-Why are the curvy street layouts of modern estates with their oddly shaped plots so commonly used. Surely with grid layouts (or similar) they could fit more houses (without sacrificing on home size) and make better use of the space. This means they get more money from the piece of land and visitors don't get lost by the confusing road layout.
The 1970's planning changes you mentioned, is this the Parker Morris minimum space standards that Thatcher got rid of?

The curvy cul de sac thing never really made sense to me. It is against the interests of developers to waste their land this way, it merely gives them the incentive to cram shoebox homes into their design as a last minute effort to make up for the profits lost due to the design quirks of their master plan. Hence the iconic Chafford Hundred photo that started this thread. If they are so keen on these weird estate layouts then there has to be a reason for it. Either government planning policy is foisting it upon them or this is actually what the customer wants (or it's what estate agents think the customer wants). Anyone got some insider knowledge of this process?

If I remember rightly the curvy cul de sac layout has a name, I think it is something like 'tree route'. Very different to the Radburn principle, which was an effort to reconcile cars & pedestrians. British but more commonly Irish planning doesn't have the same concession to pedestrians, much more car based albeit pissing drivers off with traffic calmed totally non-legible routes= no one really happy.
I think there were national planning guidance changes in the 1970s, which did this.

Curvy cul-de-sacs and so on provided more variety, less speedy traffic and allegedly less burglary.

But it also provided more social isolation.
Which might explain the estate agent phrase 'has to be seen to be appreciated'. Plenty of people have turned up to a showing thinking "Christ what a utilitarian Brutalist piece of shite". Step through the front door and they realise "****, the room sizes and natural light is way better in this ex council flat than what you'd get in most new builds".

If I remember rightly in the latter days of mass council flat building (the 70's I guess) in some cases the space standards started to fall below Park Morris. Don't know of any specific examples to prove this point, might not have been London, but it is mentioned somewhere in the 400page 'tower block' non fiction book that is legally available free here
http://fields.eca.ac.uk/gis/TowerBlock.pdf

or you could buy it for several hundred pounds. Probably the most in depth book of it's kind and brilliant photos.
One thing I always notice about proposals from that time is the INTERNAL plans of the homes - room sizes and functions and so on. The EXTERNAL shape of the blocks and units were merely a result of that.

Nowadays it is the other way round. It is always an outside view of some stack of rabbit hutches that appears in the papers.
Some of that makes sense. What I would love to know though is whether the developers have focus group tested whether people actually want this, or whether they buy into it as it's all there is on offer. Because to me these layouts usually lead to 5 minute as the crow fly walk to the shop/ bus stop taking three times longer than they should. I wonder if people would vote for that if they knew that was the reality in these new estates. And I doubt a planning authority in the country has a written down planning policy that pedestrians must be treated like shit as their house is designed for car users only- and yet that's what has happened in hundreds of thousands maybe millions of homes up & down the land.

@Jon. Funny you post an article which has the Heygate estate in the photo. The man in your British love affair with the garden BBC iplayer video, Michael Collins, actually grew up there and really liked it. You are right that a lot of the system built stuff was experimental nonsense that cost too much to maintain things that would never have broke if they'd used traditional building methods. As far as I know this didn't happen at the Heygate as it was well built and liked by the residents. It's closure was more down to crime. Always thought the sunken garages looked intimidating though.
I think the windy layouts are a biproduct of trying to look like naturally evolved villages rather than planned streets. My estate is windy because the existing roads were already windy country lanes, and many new estates try and recreate that, especially with the new (good) trend for village greens and parks. And while it takes up more room it can make places look nicer (subjectively). Not being able to see a hundred houses ahead of you makes a place feel cosy and friendly, and cul-de-sacs mean no unsolicited traffic. There are reasons people prefer them. Straight roads also mean faster speeds drivers are able to reach, a lot of curviness is to try and stop that. It's not the best use of land perhaps, and developers often go too far, but there are reasons people like that.
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