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New community infrastructure coming to north-east Chelmsford in 2024

Significant additions to community facilities are set to be delivered in north-east Chelmsford this year, as work on the district’s new train station gathers pace. A new health centre and a second primary school building are being constructed at Beaulieu, with both projects hoped to be ready by the end of 2024. The buildings have been designed to be net zero, with solar panels and smart management systems. The Beaulieu Health Centre, a state-of-the-art complex located in Beaulieu Square, is next to existing amenities at the heart of Beaulieu and close to residents in north Springfield too.

Beaulieu developers Countryside and L&Q have brought forward both projects, which will join community services already up and running in one of Chelmsford’s newest neighbourhoods. Essex’s first ‘all through’ school was also delivered at the same spot in 2018 and a Bright Horizons nursery and pre-school opened in the same year. The second primary school building, which is currently under construction on behalf of Essex County Council, will help to serve this growing site, and there’ll be extra provision for childcare in nearby Channels too, with a new nursery granted planning permission.

New sports facilities are also in the pipeline at Beaulieu, with three full-size football pitches, junior pitches, a cricket ground and new pavilion all in the offing. Beaulieu and Channels are the first neighbourhoods of Chelmsford Garden Community being built.

Next phase of development by the new station

These facilities, enabled by new housing, are crucial in creating sustainable communities. To date, close to 2,350 new homes have been delivered in north-east Chelmsford, with nearly 1,700 at Beaulieu and almost 700 at Channels. 736 of these are affordable homes. Channels is close to completion and Beaulieu has a further 1,900 homes still to be built. New homes of every type and tenure are needed in Chelmsford, and with the city in the grip of a housing crisis, more affordable homes are essential.

The next major phase of development at Beaulieu will be in the area around Beaulieu Park Station with more than a thousand new homes and mixed-use spaces planned for retail and business. Countryside’s Martin Leach says this coming stage will bring further options to people who live there.

“It’s not just about providing houses for people. As we all know, to live sustainably, we need other things that we can utilise. If you look around, a lot of people walk and cycle in Beaulieu. We have substantial open spaces which are carefully designed and linked to an extensive network of footways and cycle paths, but to create a truly sustainable community you also need a range of services on your doorstep.

“We’ve already made a great start with a busy community centre, well-regarded schools, a nursery, shops and successful businesses in Beaulieu Square. The net zero Beaulieu Health Centre and the second primary school building, both being delivered this year, are essential additions for our growing population. As we turn our attention towards the next phase of Beaulieu’s development close to the new station, there are other significant facilities planned which will give more local options to residents.”

Martin Leach, Managing Director, Major Projects, Countryside

Big infrastructure projects taking shape

It’s big, strategic infrastructure in north-east Chelmsford that most people have been talking about in recent months with Chelmsford’s much longed for second rail station and other key projects visibly taking shape. Countryside and L&Q funded and last year delivered the Beaulieu Parkway Bridge and relief road, the UK’s largest multi-span bridge of its kind, linking the Boreham Interchange with Essex Regiment Way. The bridge, which was made with two and a half thousand tonnes of steel, is a vital piece of infrastructure, alleviating traffic congestion in the area and creating better access to the station site and neighbourhoods at Beaulieu, Channels and in time, the other neighbourhoods of Chelmsford Garden Community.

Much progress has also been made at the Beaulieu Park Station site and it’s easy to picture how it might look when it opens late next year. Although on a much larger scale to the infrastructure coming to fruition in Beaulieu Square, the station has also been made possible because of the thousands of new homes planned for the area. Much of the funding for the station has come from central government via the Housing Infrastructure Fund, with significant contributions from Countryside and L&Q and the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.

The scheme will provide 500 spaces for cycles with capacity to extend a bus interchange for eight local buses and pedestrian and cycle routes, connecting existing and future residential and commercial areas to the station. Chelmsford City Council’s Deputy Leader, Councillor Marie Goldman, says bringing the station online before thousands of new homes are delivered is key to establishing more sustainable behaviours.

“The residents of Chelmsford - of the present and the future - really need this new infrastructure and it comes because we're getting new homes and creating new communities in Beaulieu, Channels and the wider Chelmsford Garden Community. Funding from Homes England and contributions from developers and local enterprise partnerships allow these big projects to come forward, bringing benefits to the whole area. People form habits soon after they move to a new area and giving them a genuine choice in how they move around is essential.

“Investing in the right infrastructure early on is better for everyone and helps to ensure growth is sustainable. The new station is a great example of lots of different organisations working together, from the years of planning to make sure the needs of the local area are understood, right through to the visible signs of delivery we are seeing now.”

Cllr Marie Goldman, Deputy Leader, Chelmsford City Council

Growing Chelmsford Garden Community

Over the next 20 years, a further 6,250 homes, 77,000sqm employment space and many more community facilities will be delivered as part of Chelmsford Garden Community which has been allocated in the adopted Local Plan. A consortium of developers, in partnership with Chelmsford City Council, Essex County Council and Homes England, is working with residents and Chelmsford Garden Community Council to create an environmentally conscious place with a shared vision for sustainability and values.

This won’t happen overnight; existing sites at Beaulieu and Channels, which form the very first phases of the Garden Community, are the culmination of decades of collaboration, planning and consultation. Rosa Etherington, Countryside’s project director for planning has been working on Beaulieu for the last decade. She says it takes time to get things right.

“Creating a community like Beaulieu is a very collaborative process. We’ve been speaking to Chelmsford City Council officers daily for the last 15 years, to Essex County Council officers, stakeholders, local interest groups, residents; all the people who know exactly what is needed in the local area. Our first question is inevitably ‘what level and type of housing is required?’ but we know from years of consultation and talking to our partners, that what people genuinely want is infrastructure, provided at the right time and as early on as possible.

“It's also important for new communities to have a distinctive sense of place that connects them to the area and landscape. You don’t want it to look the same as any other development. For a place to genuinely thrive it takes years of careful planning, master planning and consultation, but it’s all worth it. Having big projects like a new station and schools coming to fruition is incredibly exciting, but it’s seeing people genuinely enjoying living here that’s most heart-warming.”

Rosa Etherington, Project Director (Planning), Major Projects, Countryside
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Charlotte Maltby
Charlotte Maltby

Charlotte writes about the environment, parks, recycling, business, planning, public realm and democratic services.