As a housebuilder with an enduring presence in Darlington, Bussey & Armstrong have a long history of building beautiful and lasting homes in the Arts and Crafts style. But we don’t just see ourselves as responsible for building homes, we are building communities.
‘What is community?’ has been at the heart of several recent studies about West Park led by lead artist, Professor W.N. Herbert and Newcastle University, including a Knowledge Transfer Partnership grant from Innovate UK (2016-18). Individuals from Newcastle University have carried out extensive research into the history of area, conducted surveys with local residents, facilitated workshops in schools and with the local community, and produced new creative works. They have looked at how the partnerships Bussey & Armstrong forged between developers, artists, the Council and local residents, have allowed for a different kind and degree of engagement between stakeholders. The simple answer to the complex question: community is about people and place and the relationship between them.
People and place are central elements of West Park’s embedded Arts Strategy. Devised by W.N. Herbert, the Arts Strategy not only provides a roadmap for the artworks in West Park, it roots them in Darlington’s ingenious history, heritage and ecology. It encourages residents to participate, debate and engage with their local surroundings, and by doing so, creates a shared understanding of place. If you’ve ever paused to enjoy the inventive street names and their accompanying couplets, lingered over the evocative text on the bridges or central amphitheatre, or wandered higher up the nature reserve’s tor to get a better look at the Trinity Stones, you have been in dialogue with this unique and innovative approach to public art.
When we began to transform the former Darchem site nearly twenty years ago, we dared to do something different from our competitors. What we envisioned was not a housing development, but a community: homes, parkland, a school, a nursery, a hospital, a pub, cafes and shops. Our approach has proved award winning. We have received the North East Award for Regeneration, a Regional Renaissance Gold Award from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the National Award for Constructing Sustainable Communities, and the Green Flag Award from the Department for Communities and Local Government.
As part of our commitment to community, we believe local residents should be involved in and informed of the decision-making process. Through our Friends of West Park group, we keep a healthy dialogue with our residents. Our wonderful Park Coordinator, Rob George, and local resident Neil Brimer keep the Facebook page www.facebook.com/WestParkDarlington/ updated with news and events and can often be found on-site in the nature reserve where they are always up for a chat.
Our motto, Caring, Sharing, Daring, speaks to principles we have adopted from the local community and those which we hope to perpetuate. We are proud of Darlington and its history and we are excited to share it with you. As we embark on a second phase of development, expanding West Park into West Park Garden Village, a further 1200 homes, as well as schools and sports pitches, will be developed, along with the transformation of a further 15 hectares into green space. Over the following months, we look forward to using these newsletters to bring you up to speed with our current projects, including W.N. Herbert’s latest street names and couplets, the beautiful designs for new park signage and street furniture, and exciting updates about the children’s playpark.
We take pride in the work we do, so you can take pride in where you live. As a resident of West Park, you aren’t just buying a home, you too are building community.