Colworth Park Vision, Bedfordshire

The Colworth Estate wraps around the listed Hall and Colworth Science Park, one of the many research facilities operated by Unilever. The classical manor estate and parkland setting has provided a prosperous environment for innovation and business and, fueled by the ripple effect of London’s housing pressure, now offers a unique opportunity to link in the establishment of a distinctive sustainable community that could not be delivered anywhere else in Bedfordshire.

As part of the review of the local plan to 2032, Bedford Borough Council invited submissions from several developers who are promoting new settlement proposals as a means of accommodating future housing growth. Wrenbridge and Unilever jointly commissioned Planit-IE, supported by a comprehensive team of consultants, to produce a future vision that would form the core of their representation to the Council.

The document captures both the Colworth of today and the vision for its future. The development proposal comprises a sustainable new settlement, adjacent to the existing village of Sharnbrook to the north-west of Bedford, with a new rail station providing a 1 hour commute to the City.

Three new villages, each with their own distinctive character, will combine to provide 4,500 dwellings centered around mixed-use hubs. The community focus and facilities will comprise a secondary school; primary schools; retail, leisure and business uses; additional employment land; formal and informal open play space including allotments and playing fields; and new access roads directly on to the A6.

Colworth sits within a strong and well-established green infrastructure framework. This framework defines the landscape character, and shapes views into and out from the site. The close proximity of some of the most beautiful Bedfordshire villages provides an interesting and rich design narrative from which to craft a new place. The development proposals seek to protect and enhance these assets, ensuring the unique identity of Colworth is retained and matures into a robust and sustainable community.