Jo Cowen Architects designs sustainable rental housing development in Central Bedfordshire

  • Award winning architecture studio Jo Cowen Architects unveils plans for 650 precision engineered smart homes for rent at a site close to Houghton Conquest in Central Bedfordshire

  • To be developed and operated by Present Made, the £215m scheme will help to meet a pressing housing need, with 35% on-site affordable housing provision

  • A new 87-acre country park as well as a new primary school will be available to both residents and the wider community

Award-winning architecture practice Jo Cowen Architects (JCA) has revealed plans for a single-family rental housing development at Thickthorn Farm, just north of Houghton Conquest, which forms part of the wider Wixams Park master-plan.

Named Mill View, the development will deliver 650 precision engineered smart homes. The £215m GDV development will also include a primary school and an 87-acre country park. The park will be open to the public and make up over half the site’s total area.

The site will be developed and operated by Present Made, the UK’s first company to develop, own and operate single-family homes for rent. Wholly owned and funded by leading UK living real estate investment manager Apache Capital, Present Made will deliver of 3,000 precision engineered smart homes for rent across southern England

JCA’s design aims to create a new community that promotes health, wellbeing and sustainability and is integrated with its surroundings. Mill View will combine important green infrastructure with beautiful connections to support residents and wildlife, along with landscape corridors to create opportunities for active travel across the site.

The country park, which will include new woodland, is an important part of the vision for the scheme and will offer opportunities for leisure and relaxation and act as a buffer between the site and Houghton Conquest.

The new woodland will create places of interest and exploration that are inspired by the heritage of the local area while the green spaces will encourage play, support health and wellbeing.

In addition, the proposed scheme will include an array of amenities, which will be free for Present Made residents to use, with access covered in the rent.

Residents will further benefit from on-site professional management provided by a dedicated in-house team, who will help organise events and other communal activities in the shared spaces as well as handling any maintenance issues.

All the homes and Mill View will be highly energy efficient thanks to a combination of smart technology and modern methods of construction. The houses will be precision engineered in a factory environment in a process that is less wasteful, disruptive and time consuming compared to traditional construction techniques.

Jo Cowen, founder and CEO of Jo Cowen Architects said:

“Here we have designed a landscape-led neighbourhood that is focused around healthy living and community, aiming to improve the everyday lives of residents through quality homes and streets. The country park differentiates the area by providing quality living within a beautiful surroundings.

Our plans for Present Made at Mill View have sustainability and wellbeing at the core, promoting active, healthy and sustainable lifestyles. Harnessing the power of modern methods of construction (MMC), the scheme will integrate new technologies through bespoke design, promoting sustainable living from the very beginning of the process.”

Richard Jackson, co-founder of Apache Capital and CEO at Present Made said:

“Today’s announcement demonstrates the seriousness of our ambition in creating the UK’s leading purpose-built and designed single-family housing platform, delivering large-scale schemes using modern methods of construction and putting health, wellbeing and sustainability at the heart of our designs.

Present Made was appointed by the University of Cambridge to deliver housing as part of its Eddington master-plan as they were impressed by the quality and the originality of our proposals and Present Made of Mill View will similarly be an exemplar scheme that sets new benchmarks for design, quality and service in the UK’s single-family housing sector.

Fundamentally we want to do more than simply offer people a better home, we want to offer them a better lifestyle, where living sustainably is second nature. That is why we have invested heavily into the master-planning, design and development of our neighbourhoods and also considered carefully the services and amenities that we will provide onsite.

There is currently no purpose-built family rental housing in the UK despite couples with children being one of the fastest growing segments of the renting population. Present Made of Mill View will not only offer a new type of high-quality sustainable housing that is both flexible yet secure in tenure while still being attainable to people on ordinary incomes.”