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Britain’s ‘Rocketman’ presents new homes ‘Oscar’ to Peters Village community in Kent

Peters Village – the 1,000-home community on the River Medway in Kent – has won a ‘stellar’ award at the UK new homes industry ‘Oscars’ ceremony, where it was presented by Britain’s most famous astronaut, Tim Peake.

Judges for the WhatHouse? Awards 2019 liked how Peters Village developer, Trenport (Peters Village) Ltd, had transformed a derelict Victorian cement works and quarries into a smart new riverside community with Nature at its heart, incorporating a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The strategy earned a bronze award in the ‘Best Public Realm’ category and more than 1,700 people, representing many of the biggest names in UK housebuilding, saw Trenport MD Richard Hall and Director Chris Hall receive the trophy at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, London.

The two men accepted the trophy from Tim Peake, whose orbits aboard the International Space Station famously included an exchange of ‘Rocketman’ tweets with singer Elton John.

Comedian, TV presenter and self-confessed ‘space geek’ Dara O’Briain also helped host the awards.

Trenport’s Chris Hall said afterwards: “We were delighted to be shortlisted, but to go on and win an award was fantastic, especially as Peters Village is a relatively small project compared with the gold and silver winners and most other rivals in this category.

“But I think it recognises the extra mile we have gone with Peters Village to reverse a Victorian environmental disaster, caused by chalk quarrying and cement production in what must have been a picturesque part of the Medway Valley and its neighbouring downland.

“We aimed to incorporate the SSSI, set aside largely to protect the rare Great Crested Newt, but also nurture other rare species inside and out of it, while creating a sustainable transport plan for the community that can only further assist that aim. On top of that, we have some arresting public art and other features that embrace the site’s industrial as well as natural history.”

“We’re delighted that many of those buying homes in Peters Village have also ‘bought into’ the environmental objective, showing pride in the SSSI and enjoying the walkways and cycleways that have replaced the desolate landscape pre-dating our planning proposals.”

What the WhatHouse? judges were looking for in the Best Public Realm Award category:

“This category embraces every aspect of public realm, including the vital commitment to biodiversity across both urban and rural landscapes.

Judges are looking for the housing developments that support and enhance nature, wildlife and habitats, showcasing conservation and ecology and working in partnership with experts and other key stakeholders.

As well as the natural environment, entrants must also champion civic pride and public open space, be it through commissioned works of art, cultural attractions, parks or community projects.”

And here’s what the WhatHouse Awards 2019 programme had to say about Peters Village:

“Hard to imagine this was once an old Victorian cement works. Peters Village is now transforming into a development of 1,000 homes, with an esplanade, as well as bridleways and cycle routes. Nature is at its core, with the Peters Pit Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) funded by developer Trenport and managed by the Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT).

The Great Crested Newt is among the village residents with its own protected areas in place and there is an abundance of further wildlife to be found including orchids, dormice, lapwings and nightingales – not to forget the Adonis Blue butterfly, which adorns the  KWT logo.

Trenport has commissioned research and studies to ensure the habitats onsite are preserved and observed. The industrial past has not been forgotten, reflected in street names drawn from cement production and transport and educating local schoolchildren through competitions and community engagement, as well as a public art programme for the village.

Trenport works with a selection of housebuilder partners – Bellway, Ashberry, Hyde New Homes, Westerhill Homes, Orbit and Moat Homes – to deliver the new homes element of the village, with a mix of private sale, shared ownership and affordable rent, as this Kent waterside community on the banks of the River Medway takes shape.”

You can also read the WhatHouse editorial report following a site visit ahead of the awards:

Picture caption: (left to right) Comedian Dara O’Briain; Stephen Blight, MD of the category sponsor, BPC Recruitment; Richard Hall and Chris Hall, MD and Director of bronze winner Trenport (Peters Village) Ltd; and British astronaut Tim Peake.