Witney constructor teams up with Bristol companies on community hub development

Linmere Farmstead

Witney construction company Ingleton Wood is celebrating completing work on a new community hub near Houghton Regis in Bedfordshire, with the internal fit-out now under way in preparation for its imminent opening.

Work on the Farmstead at the new Linmere village was project managed by Bristol-based Gardiner & Theobald and supervised by Ingleton Wood, with Ashe carrying out the design and build and play equipment created by Bristol-based TouchWood Play and landscape architects Davies White who worked with the Duchess of Cambridge on her Chelsea Flower show garden.

Parts of the Farmstead opened for visitors at the start of February, with the new café, dog groomer and nature-inspired play opening their doors soon.

Ingleton Wood was appointed to provide design services for the project.

Peter Webb, director at Ingleton Wood’s Oxford office, 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.”

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 unit has been taken by Royals Dog Grooming.

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 has been taken by Café in the Park selling coffees and freshly prepared meals, many of which are created from locally grown produce, some on Linmere’s own allotments.

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.”

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.