This post recreates the report issued for the opening of the Gorse Ride Housing Estate Finchamptead by Mr Peter Walker Minister of Housing and Local Government on 17th July 1970. The estate was designed by the Ministry’s Research and Development Team. The reports authors were Pat Tindale, Rosemary Stjernstedt and Graham Shawcross.


This brochure briefly describes a housing scheme designed by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government Research and Development Group. The R and D Group is a team of architects, sociologists, quantity surveyors and administrators. Ove Arup and Partners are structural consultants to the Group;

Development on constructional techniques was carried out in collaboration with the Production Division of the Building Research Station and on the coordination of underground services with the Directorate of Research and Development of the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works.


The Research and Development Group were appointed by the Rural District Council of Wokinham to design a housing scheme for a site of 25 acres in the village of Finchamstead at a density of 60-70 persons per acre.

An analysis of the Council’s waiting list and a survey of local residents was undertaken by the Group’s sociologists in order to determine the sizes of households to be accommodated and the facilities to be provided.

The residents’ main concerns about the area were the infrequency and inflexibility of public transport, the lack of local shops and the danger of fast moving cars to their children.

Car ownership among local authority tenants in the area has risen already to 60%. The layout adopted allows for a high proportion of garages attached to houses. The Radburn principle of layout was rejected in favour of a controlled, mixed side for vehicles and pedestrians where vehicles are few and slow while the rear sides of the houses are kept pedestrian and give access to children’s play areas.

Direct pedestrian routes across the site were arranged to connect the existing shopping centre, which the planners did not wish to expand, to a new centre which will contain a primary school, library, shops and public house.

It was estimated that best value for money would be obtained by medium frontage terrace houses, two and three-person accommodation being one-storey in height and four, five and six-person two storeys. The site is virtually flat but well wooded and steps and staggers were therefore unnecessary.


The contract for Phase 1 of the scheme is for 172 houses and ancillary works. The roads were constructed under a separate contract before the building contract commenced. The contractor was appointed by a two-stage tender procedure.

The builder was selected at the stage when the design of the layout and house types was almost complete but the constructional details were still in generalised form. The selection was based, following an open invitation to be considered, on the builder’s experience of house building, on the capacity of his management organisation to participate in pre-contract decisions on the form and details of the components, and on his general level of pricing as determined by a notional bill of quantities for the scheme. During a six month period following selection of the builder, fortnightly meetings between architects, quantity surveyors, BRS and from a director, contracts manager and site agent from the building firm took place and production information prepared.

Tenders for components were invited from a selected list of manufactures. These were invited to quote for external wall panels, party wall panels, partitions, floor panels and/ or joists and deck, and roof panels and / or deck, all to be delivered in house sets loaded in erection sequence and delivered to site as programmed by the main contractor at the average rate of one house shell per day.

The selected manufacturer did not quote for floor deck or roof deck and these were supplied by the main contractor.

The Council requested that there should be no excess over the cost yardstick allowance for the scheme and the tender submitted was 3.5% below this figure.


Space and equipment follow the standards laid down in Circular 36/67 and Design Bulletin 6 “Space in the Home” and the arrangement of rooms is based on data provided by user surveys of earlier schemes designed by the Development Group. The four, five and six-person houses have two living spaces; one a dining area attached to the kitchen and the other, a separate living room. Four-person houses have either two double bedrooms or one double and two single bedrooms. The five-person have alternative ground floor plans, one with living room at the front and one with living room at the back in order that the living room may always have south or west orientation.

The plans are based on a 1 ft planning grid and follow in imperial measurements the principles of the dimensional framework laid down in Design Bulletin 16.

All houses are rectangular and two-storey house have the same depth.




Not part of original paper

Corner of Dart Close Showing 6 person dwelling

Back of Firs Close across the public open space

Old persons bungalows at Firs Close

About Graham Shawcross

Architect PhD student at Edinburgh University Interested in order, rhythm and pattern in Architectural Design
This entry was posted in Architecture, House Building Productivity, Housing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Finchampstead

  1. Ely Shemer says:

    Loved it.
    This is what I see in your post
    Great to learn about the innovative design and development of the Gorse Ride Housing Estate Finchamptead by the Ministry’s Research and Development Group.
    Thanks, Ely


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