The site chosen for the new housing development at North Kenton, three miles outside of Newcastle, was the last major open site available for development within the city boundaries. As such, it was to be was to be a ‘high profile’ project and council leader T. Dan Smith wanted the best architect for the scheme. Ryder and Yates were put forward by the architect Eric Lyons who had agreed to assist the council with the appointment of a local practice.
Eight new house types were designed for the scheme, four of which were tested in a pilot development at St. Cuthbert’s Green, Fenham. All were designed to meet the recommendations of the Parker Morris Report ‘Homes for Today’ published a year earlier, which set out minimum space standards and requirements for central heating and insulation.
The development was planned with complete separation between pedestrians and vehicles, although there was a garage for each dwelling in anticipation of the increase in car ownership. A central core of public amenities; schools, shops and a public house formed the heart of the development, a device borrowed from the planning of the hundred houses project at Thornton Gill in Peterlee.
“We are aiming at an integrated housing estate, which will look pleasant, be attractive to live in, and also provide really first-class amenities” (Gordon Ryder).
North Kenton Estate was Ryder and Yates first opportunity to put into practice their designs for housing developed whilst working for Lubetkin at Peterlee. In the pilot scheme at Fenham, they tested many of these ideas, with the flat-roofed, cubic forms clearly echoing the house designs for Thornton Gill that had been drawn up ten years earlier.
Images 1-4 courtesy of Henk Snoek / RIBA Library Photographs Collection
Images 5-8 copyright of Authors (Model by Northumbria University)