Work on The Farmstead – the community hub at the new Linmere village being created near Houghton Regis - has been completed, with the internal fit-out now under way in preparation for its imminent opening.
Parts of the Farmstead will be open for visitors from the beginning of February, with its new café, dog groomer and nature-inspired play park poised to open their doors.
Work on the Farmstead was project managed by Gardiner & Theobald LLP and supervised by Ingleton Wood, with Ashe carrying out the design and build and play equipment created by TouchWood Play and Davis White who worked with the Duchess of Cambridge on her Chelsea Flower show garden. All three companies are working on other key elements of the wider Linmere development.
The three buildings making up the Farmstead are arranged around a central leafy courtyard with nature-themed play area, outdoor seating and bike storage.
The large community hall, which can be divided into two, will be available for hire by local groups and those in the wider area for activities such as yoga, local interest societies and children’s clubs.
The second building will consist of three retail units. The first to be signed for is a dog grooming parlour, Royals Dog Grooming, which has outgrown its garden cabin in Houghton Regis and is offering an expanded service to new Linmere residents and existing clients.
The second will provide office space offering flexible co-working opportunities for residents and those living nearby. The other retail outlet will also reflect Linmere’s vision of creating a happy, healthy place which promotes loving outdoor living and enables residents to take part in daily activities.
The third building is a café selling coffees and freshly prepared meals, many of which are created from locally grown produce, some on Linmere’s own allotments. Café in the Park also runs a bakery and will be baking fresh breads and cakes in its kitchen at Linmere.
A third of the overall 650-acre Linmere site will not be developed and will be managed in a way which allows natural habitats to thrive.
The Farmstead is expected to be a ‘destination’ for local people and visitors from the surrounding area, thanks to its easy access from Junction 11A of the M1 and the A5-M1 link and its proximity to the new 24,500sq ft Lidl shop which opened late last year.
Linmere development director Nigel Reid said: “Linmere’s focus is on the great outdoors. The Farmstead reflects this ethos, with everything from the rustic style of the architecture to the fact that the café serves locally grown food, to the services offered to our four-legged friends.”
Andrew Morris, business development director at building contractors Ashe said: “We’re delighted to be providing this fantastic new community facility. Using sustainably sourced timber and offsite methods of construction we have ensured the most sustainable of buildings that fits with the aspirations of all parties involved. We hope it plays a central part in building a caring and diverse community.”
Peter Webb, director at property and construction consultancy Ingleton Wood, which provided design services for the project, said: “We used our expertise within the commercial and public sector to support the development of the sustainable community hub and create a lasting legacy for the Linmere Estate. Residents and local businesses will benefit from a range of high-quality community spaces for generations to come.”
Urban design director Vaughan Anderson from planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore, added: “We are extremely proud of the collaborative efforts across our masterplanners, landscape designers and architects to create the Farmstead, a jewel in the crown and gateway into Linmere. The Farmstead is a great example of HRMC’s commitment and vision for delivering high quality facilities and creating a sense of place early in the project, really helping to unite and galvanise the new and existing communities. Its distinctive architecture and use of enduring natural materials on the building and also in the public realm reflects the agricultural aesthetic and connects with the historic context of the site. The building creates a landmark on Sundon roundabout. As the community grows and the parklands mature, there is no doubt that the Farmstead will provide a welcoming destination and be a fantastic meeting place for all to enjoy.”
The village, which will eventually accommodate more than 5,000 households as it grows over the coming 15 years, is being created by the Linmere consortium which comprises master planners Lands Improvement, Aviva Investors, and the Diocese of St Albans.
It will also see the creation of two new state of the art primary schools and an extension to Houghton Regis’ existing Thornhill Primary school. A ten-form secondary school will open in 2022/3.