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Thame Sustainable Urban Extension

The town of Thame in Oxfordshire is strategically located along the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Expressway corridor, which aims to provide better links to jobs, education, leisure and health services and increased options for the development of up to 1 million new homes along its length.

Thame developed to the north and east from its historic core, with growth to the west south and inhibited by the river and former railway running along its entire southern edge. Located to the west of the town and south of the former railway, the site sits between the river and ring-road. It is ideally located to take advantage of its proximity to strategic road and rail connections, as well as the rich landscape of the neighbouring nature reserve. Furthermore, the old railway is now a National Cycle Route, offering key sustainable, local connectivity to the town centre. The historic town core would therefore remain relatively free from additional access traffic and, with the shortest route via the national cycle route, would promote sustainable modes of transport to access the town centre.

The site concept focuses upon the creation of three main landscaped edges repairing the relationship of the town to the surrounding countryside, which has been degraded by poor quality twentieth century ring-road development. The historic town area around the church still maintains a more integrated relationship with the countryside and the design of the new urban extension aims to re-establish this ‘merged’ and high-quality landscape; where the town and countryside create a distinct threshold character.

The masterplan is deigned to evolve from structure that draws upon the historical structuring features of Thame itself. A central public space running east-west uses the existing topography to create a natural focal point to the development and also connects to a new river landscape proposed as part of the project. A ‘main street’ runs through the development and is supported by secondary connections to key access points and tertiary lanes, yards and footpaths creating a rich network as is found within Thame itself.

New homes will draw clearly upon local vernacular but adopt a variety of architectural styles, from traditional to more modern and the house type will respond to their setting and role within the masterplan and reinforced by specific landscape characters, avoiding the ‘one size fits all’ approach to new neighbourhoods that is found in most modern developments.

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