York calls for tenders in biggest-ever housing design project

Yorks city council offices. Inset: Council Jenny Brooks

City of York Council is issuing its biggest ever single design tender for new housing by inviting submissions to design high quality new homes across seven sites.

The call is as part of the largest housing development programme seen since the 1970s. A minimum of 40% of homes will be for social rent or low-cost home ownership.

The council is looking for architects who share its ambition to create high quality new homes set within sustainable and inclusive developments — homes which are healthy, a joy to live in and stand the test of time.

The much-needed homes will be built to the highest possible standards for the long-term health and wellbeing of the residents who will live in them. These are to be built as part of the Housing Delivery Programme which, just last month, announced it will build 600 homes following the removal of a borrowing cap.

Architect-led teams interested in entering the tender process must consider the liveability of the new homes in relation to light, space and layout, as well as the potential running costs for residents. The wider development should encourage communities to come together and spend time outdoors, through the thoughtful design of open space and connections to neighbouring communities, footpaths and cycle paths. Environmental sustainability should underpin the design of all new developments.

The first stage of the selection process will be to identify architects and design teams who share similar ambitions and values to the council. The top bidders will be taken through to the second stage, which will include a design element.

Architects reaching this stage will be asked to produce a concept design for one of the seven sites within the Housing Delivery Programme. (The design of the 165-home Lowfield Green site is already out to tender separately.) This will allow them to showcase their practice’s work and understanding of the project, and to enable the council to select the practice which best fits its aspirations and quality criteria.

Cllr Jenny Brooks, executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods, said: “We want a competitive element to the tender to tease out agencies’ creativity, as well as to source the highest technical standards. We’re anticipating some high-quality submissions to help us deliver 600 homes including family homes, apartments and bungalows, to help meet the city’s needs. I’m delighted by the significant levels of interest in this project.”

Cllr Carol Runciman, executive member for adult social care and health, said: “We want to build homes which give the occupants room in which to grow and thrive, and which are fuel-efficient and attractive. We want them to be in settings which help connect and bring communities together and which respect and enhance the existing. The design of developments should be rooted in public and stakeholder engagement.”