The Hertfordshire Charrette

Case study

The Hertfordshire Charrette was held in 2008 between 24th June and 1stJuly. The charrette was held at the University of Hertfordshire and was a collaborative exercise involving The University of Hertfordshire, renowned American urban designers DPZ and the BRE who provided sustainability expertise.

It focussed on how Hertfordshire as a County might grow. The East of England Plan states that Hertfordshire must accommodate 83,200 homes by 2021.  The charrette evolved six possible growth models including “business as usual” (using windfall sites), transport node orientated development, brownfield / greyfield sites, urban extensions, new garden villages and a new town.  For each scenario the charrette team carried out detailed design work, an analysis of the pros and cons, and BRE produced a sustainability assessment which allowed comparison between the growth models.

The Charrette was unique in that it was funded through private and public funding whilst concentrating on sub regional issues.  It enabled the general public the opportunity to work with design professionals and statutory bodies to look at the social and environmental issues around development, and shape models that respond to Hertfordshire’s character and landscape.

The use of the charrette process produced dialogue between statutory organisations, businesses, voluntary groups and specialists about potential forms of development in the County and enabled the establishment some guiding principles.  It provided a means to upskill the participants, whilst also ensuring that local knowledge was incorporated.

The charrette was extremely well attended with the final output being a report entitled ‘Hertfordshire Guide to Growth – 2021: How should the county grow?’   Some examples from this report are shown below.