The Hawthorn Avenue Character Area is a large suburban area lying in the Witham Valley at the base of the limestone escarpment and east of Brant Road. Housing consists of three main residential developments constructed during the Modern [1967-2010 AD] period.
The Character Area is divided into small and medium urban blocks which are regularly shaped towards the north and irregular to the south. Many blocks are partially defined by footpaths, which link up to provide access between build and development units. Access within the area is good with frequent foot and road links out to Brant Roadand a legible road system within the developments.
Street patterns vary between development units. The 1970s housing to the north is generally laid out along a loose grid pattern of connected straight and slightly curving roads and perpendicular junctions. In comparison, street patterns become increasingly curvilinear with greater numbers of branching cul-de-sacs in the later Modern Period (e.g. Melbourne Way).
There are three main development units within the Character Area and these illustrate the different approaches towards the construction of residential housing in the latter half of the 20th century. The largest development unit occupies the centre of the Character Area and consists of all the properties from as far north as Rowan Road, to Pine Close and Fir Tree Avenue at the south. Of the two remaining development units, the older is at the north, covering those properties on the northern section of Hollywell Road and the streets that branch off to the north. The final unit is the most modern and covers Melbourne Way and all its branching cul-de-sacs in the south of the Character Area.
Figure 2 – Variety of building scales on Rowan Road, within the main development unit
Overall, the form and size of properties are particular to their individual build or development unit. However, there are some similarities that can be seen across the Character Area. Building lines mirror the road layout and can be straight, stepped or curving in nature. Properties are constructed of load bearing brick, in a variety of colours (e.g. red, beige or orange), although there is coherence within build units. Plots tend to be rectangular throughout the Character Area, though the shape may be more irregular in cul-de-sacs and at the corner of roads.
To the front, properties are generally set back 5-10m from the footway with private drives, hard-standing and gardens. There is a lower setback on newer properties to the south and an area of shops is set directly to the back of the footway. Gardens to the rear are comparatively larger than gardens/forecourts to the front.
The majority of properties are 2/3 bays in width. Glazing throughout the Character Area comprises casement windows with a strong horizontal emphasis. Wholesale replacement of doors and windows with uPVC has occurred in older areas, though was standard in newer builds.
The main development unit lies in the centre of the Character Area and was constructed between the 1970s and 1980s. A variety of housing is displayed with a combination of styles, forms and decorations. A small row of shops, a recreation ground, and a large primary school are also within this Character Area. Urban blocks within this development unit are medium to large and both rectangular and irregularly shaped. Properties are set to the front or centre of medium sized plots.
Figure 3 - Houses with asymmetric roofs and dormer windows are found in 1970s-1980s development
Public/private boundaries vary across the development unit, with low walls, fencing and vegetation all in use, where boundaries are defined. Properties are constructed from brick, in yellow, beige or brown. Roofs are gabled or hipped and roof material is generally concrete tiles. Several of the properties have asymmetric roofs with the ridgeline off-centre Houses are seen in a variety of scales, with bungalows, 1 ½ storeys, and 2-storey properties all present in the development unit.
Decoration on properties is minimal; render is occasionally used, and some windows have flat segmental lintels or false shutters. 2 properties that have been converted from single to 2 storey houses, have stone cladding and contrasting brick string courses. Garages, dormers and bay windows are all common projections on houses. Eaves and verges can also be deeply projecting. Most properties have an active façade, formed by a medium solid-to-void ratio and doors that face on to the street.
The development unit in the north of the Character Area is largely characterised by the presence of gabled bungalows set to the centre of medium sized plots. There are also rows of terraced gabled 2-storey housing, and a few detached 2-storey properties, but these are by no means typical of the area.
Figure 4 – Bungalows and 2 storey terraces in the northern development unit
The area comprises small and regular urban blocks defined by vehicular access roads and narrow pedestrian closes. Bungalows face toward communal grassed closes, whilst the rears of properties face directly on to the road. This layout is a reflection of the ‘Radburn’ style planning often used in 1960s social housing, as a way of building a greater sense of community and preventing an over-reliance on the private motor-car.
Most properties have a well-defined public/private boundary with wooden fencing to the rear and hedges or fencing to the front of the property, although two-storey properties often have an indistinct boundary to the front of the property. Properties are constructed in brown or beige brick, with gabled roofs covered in concrete tiles.
Decoration is minimal with stone cladding occasionally noted on bungalows, and 2 storey properties clad with hanging tiles. Doors are to the front or side of properties and there is a medium solid-to-void ratio. Well-defined boundaries and pedestrian-only front access gives the bungalows a passive frontage.
The modern development unit in the south of the Character Area, has been constructed since the 1990s and properties are set around a series of branching cul-de-sacs. Urban blocks are medium to large and irregular in form, with few connecting roads or footpaths between streets.
Houses in the south of the Character Area are often built using a limited number of standard building plans and many repeated architectural components such as windows, doors and decoration. Different coloured bricks and roof materials are used to distinguish properties of identical form (e.g. Numbers 37 to 41 Melbourne Way). This illustrates a move by developers to create more individual properties from the outset, aimed at satisfying the desire of homeowners for a distinctive and personalised home. It also demonstrates the economies of scale working with a limited palette of construction materials and a set number of building plans.
Figure 5 - Melbourne Way showing the use of different coloured materials to distinguish individual properties
The majority of properties have a minimal public/private boundary with lawns and driveways extending directly to the back of the footway. Properties are set to the front of plots and fill the width. Houses are 2 storeys in height, constructed of brick in red, orange, beige or brown and have hipped or gabled roofs. Roofs have a range of coloured concrete pantiles often with contrasting ridge-tiles.
A variety of decorations are repeated amongst the properties and these include canted bays, contrasting brick sills and sill bands, imitation stone lintels, geometric brick patterns in the gable, and open decorative porches. Properties have an active frontage due to a medium/low solid-to-void ratio.
Waddington Brant Road Primary School is located within the centre of the Character Area and is of a modern standard design of red brick and mixed roof styles. It also has security fencing, particularly where it borders the recreation grounds to the south. The recreation ground contains a community centre of pre-cast concrete construction with modern replacement steel roof. A row of shops (31-47 Redwood Drive) has large glazed frontages with flats above. These are built of brick with a flat roof and wooden boards above and below windows.
The majority of roads within the Character Area are surfaced in tarmac and mainly consist of two lane width residential streets. Red brick pavers are used along crossovers in the southern development unit and are also employed as speed ramps. Pavements are also of tarmac, although pre-cast concrete slabs (e.g. along Hollywell Road), concrete slabs (e.g. adjacent to the shopping centre) and red brick pavers are also employed.
Street furniture consists of concrete and steel lampposts, with the original swan-necked concrete lampposts remaining in the main development unit, telegraph poles (which decrease in number moving south due to the sub-surface provision of services), dog litter bins, freestanding street signs and bus stops. Bollards have been placed to prevent vehicular access between Melbourne Way and Hollywell Road. Street names within development units often share a common theme such as trees, within the main development unit, and Australian cities, in the southern development unit.
Figure 6 – Community centre and recreation ground to the rear of Redwood Drive
Public space in the Character Area comprises residential streets, occasional grass verges alongside roads and footpaths, a recreation ground and a playground (adjacent to Cairns Way). Open space can also be found in the playing field of the primary school.
A small terrace of shops on Redwood Drive forms a public centre in the middle of the Character Area.
Figure 7 - Small commercial centre along Redwood Drive