19 August 2019

Freebridge Community Housing decided to rebuild an estate, and instead they created a community.

Project Timeline

Started onsite in 2013 - ongoing

The project

The Hillington Square estate is adjacent to the town centre and was constructed in the late 1960s. It’s design was inward facing and it was isolated from the wider community. The interlinked blocks and concrete ‘walkways in the sky” made dealing with social issues challenging. It became a place to live for people that had little choice.

Freebridge Community Housing partnered with Hemingway Design to refurbish and open up the estate so that it would be more integrated with the town centre.

After extensive dialogue with residents, funders, public agencies and local community groups, Lovell LLP was appointed to undertake the construction work on a ‘phase by phase’ basis through a partnering contract. This approach ensured that Freebridge would maintain an active involvement in the design and procurement process as the project evolved.


At the beginning of the project it was difficult to assess the full scope and therefore cost of works. Data and records were limited so until the first blocks were taken apart is was challenging to provide accurate costings and timescales.

The procurement of the works through a partnering contract and allocating works on a phase by phase basis enabled us to remain in control of the project however it has extended the timescale and increased procurement costs.


The first four phases of the development have been completed. This included separating the blocks to provide them with their own identity and relocating access points away from the blocks so that those living at ground floor level would have their own space. A street scene approach was developed with careful configuration of hard and soft landscape areas to retain block specific parking areas and open space.

If you did this again, what would you change?

The partnering approach to procurement was the correct approach. After phase one, more time spent on assessing the accuracy of budgeting would have saved time through the remainder of the project.

What can others learn from this example?

Partnership working has had the greatest impact on making the project successful. Early engagement with the local authority planning department and conservation officer has been paramount. Equally putting the residents at the heart of the project, gaining their input into design really helped. It gave a real insight into how people saw their neighbourhood and what they wanted to see changed.

The project has attracted interest both nationally and internationally and has been shortlisted for awards for architectural and building control and for the marketing and branding of the completed works.

For more information contact Tony Hall on tony.hall@freebridge.org.uk

Hillington Square