Wayne Hemingway discusses King's Lynn plan with locals
Wayne Hemingway has been handed the contract to redevelop Hillington Square
Designer Wayne Hemingway is planning the next step of the redevelopment of Hillington Square in King's Lynn.
He met up with residents of the estate on Tuesday, 25 May 2010, to discuss the plans so far and receive feedback.
"We're going to try and get the wider community to play a part in this because great things normally happen when people get involved," said Wayne.
As well as meeting 180 residents, he discussed the area's future with local schools, architects and the police.
"The good thing that came out of it is there is a core of residents there who want to get involved who have very strong and valid ideas," said Wayne.
"It is a big job. You only really find out how difficult it is as you get into it, so there's a sense of bravery from everybody doing this.
"But if you don't attempt to remedy issues like Hillington Square then we're not being proper human beings."
Hillington Square was built in the late '60s and was formerly owned by King's Lynn and West Norfolk Council.
The design of the square was seen as revolutionary when it was built with its ideals of communal living spaces.
"There's a lot of places like this around the UK where supposedly somebody came up with good ideas in the '60s and the '70s and got it wrong," said Wayne.
"At the time I think residents were quite happy because old streets were knocked down - streets that had outdoor loos, no kitchens and probably some of them didn't have running water - and so it was seen as an advancement," said Wayne.
"But the design wasn't all it should be and it didn't really think about what 'liveability' was all about.
"It stripped away individual outdoor space - it turned individuality into this mass living which doesn't always work."
Despite making his name with fashion label Red or Dead, Wayne studied urban design at university and says that the basic principle is the same.
"The idea of urban design... is a lot more important than a frock or a blouse or a shirt but ultimately it's the same aim - it's to make people happy and make people feel good," he said.
At the height Red or Dead's popularity he sold the business and turned his attention to social housing.
In 1999 he set up Hemingway Design, which specialises in affordable and social design.
After success on other housing projects including The Staiths South Bank on Tyneside, current owners Freebridge awarded him the contract to redevelop Hillington Square.
Redesigning the square is seen as central to the town's future plans
"Hemingway Design has established a national reputation in this field and takes on very few projects, so we are pleased he has accepted this challenge," said Tony Hall, Freebridge chief executive.
"This is an important project, not just for those who live at Hillington Square, but for King's Lynn as a whole, because the square is so central to the town.
"Creating a place where people are happy living and working will tackle some of the negative perceptions which have been associated with the development and enhance the liveability not just of the square, but of the wider area."
While the design process is now underway, consultations will continue before the project is finalised.
"We've got a very clear vision in our own mind, but the last thing that we want to do as designers is let people know that," said Wayne.
"Before we say anything we want to hear from the community of Hillington plus the wider King's Lynn community," he added.
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