I’m delighted to be able to report that Ordnance Yard, the nine-home development Elite Homes has delivered in Gosport, Hampshire is a shortlisted finalist in the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Excellence in Planning for Heritage and Culture award. As the name suggests it’s an award that celebrates planning excellence and planners’ contribution to society, hence the reverence it’s held in throughout the industry. It’s therefore a huge achievement that Ordnance Yard, part of the former Priddy’s Hard MOD depot, should be among the nominated entries in what is an extremely large and competitive field.
Unique triumph

It’s the second time RTPI has seen fit to acknowledge our renovation of Ordnance Yard from a derelict Victorian munitions depot to a luxury waterside residential complex. Last year, the development was awarded a commendation in RTPI’s fiercely contested South East Awards, giving credence to our belief that we’ve created something totally unique with Ordnance Yard.

In their citation, the judges commented that they were ‘impressed by the courage and drive of Elite Homes in taking on this very challenging site with a range of characteristics that other developers saw only as constraints but which Elite Homes saw as opportunities, and which demonstrates that the site was developable with imagination and which has instigated the wider regeneration of Priddy’s Hard. They continued by adding they were also impressed ‘by the bold approach to the design of the houses; not only their appearance and choice of materials to but also their sustainability – energy-efficient air source heat pumps, an on-site drainage and sewage system which converts wastewater into potable drinking, and the exceedance of building regulation levels for energy performance.’ It’s through feedback such as this that the team can take reassurance that we are doing the right thing and creating a legacy that we should all be proud of. But we couldn’t do it alone.

With the unstinting support of the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust (PNBPT), Elite Homes has repurposed a crumbling 200-year-old wartime armoury without purging its proud naval heritage. Speaking of the project’s RTPI nomination, Peter Goodship CEO of the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, said: “The Trust is delighted, but not at all surprised at the news that Elite Homes have been selected as a finalist in these national awards. The quality of design and build achieved at Priddy’s Hard is ground-breaking, particularly in this part of the borough, and will make a powerful contribution towards the regeneration of the Priddy’s Hard Estate as a whole. It provides the Trust with enormous confidence that in selecting Elite Homes as its development partner the wider regeneration of this important historic estate will be the great success it deserves to be.”

Seven of the Ordnance Yard’s nine homes, which were designed by John Pardy Architects, ‘float’ between enormous blast walls that surrounded long-gone shell-filling and emptying rooms. These stunning, stilted houses make for a truly striking sight when approaching Ordnance Yard via the small stretch of water separating Gosport from Portsmouth.

Ordnance Yard is the glorious result of years and months of research and consultation, with little triumphs being regularly offset by the occasional setback. Fortunately, the official bodies we worked alongside during the planning and construction process, such as Natural England, Historic England, Gosport council and the town’s residents, trusted our overall vision for Ordnance Yard and surrounding Priddy’s Hard: to regenerate a site of historical interest for the future enrichment of the wider community.
Future investment

Although a standalone scheme, Ordnance Yard is the first step towards fulfilling our overall dream for Priddy’s Hard. Phase one of the regeneration – which includes plans to create 100 residential units and open a new coastal forces museum, a micro-brewery and a gastro pub – is nearer planning approval. While Phase Two, which will introduce more than 100 elements to the area and bring investment totalling £30 million, will be considered by local planners later this year.

The Ordnance Yard development and the subsequent regeneration of Priddy’s Hard is without doubt the most exciting project I’ve ever had the pleasure to be involved with. But no developer is an island, and without the expertise of John Pardy Architects, the PNBT and many other interested and helpful parties – lest we forget the Heritage Lottery Fund and its £2 million grant for Phase One of the project – our plans for this huge and rewarding regeneration would not have left the drawing board.

Therefore, our RTPI awards success is as much a triumph for the talents we’re able to call upon and we are genuinely thrilled that the RTPI judges, who recognised in commending our regeneration of Ordnance Yard and short listing it for a further award, have recognised this. We like to think we’ve made the seemingly impossible, possible and in doing so saved a little piece of history.