Tendring Colchester Borders Garden Community

with Latimer

About the project

To meet the needs of a growing population over the next 30 to 40 years for housing, employment and associated community facilities and infrastructure, Colchester and Tendring councils and Latimer are working together to plan for a new Garden Community. Having recognised from the outset that youth engagement and empowerment were going to be key objectives for the project, our collaboration with Latimer aims to ensure that young people’s ideas and values are placed front and centre within the development of the Community.

The strategy for youth engagement and co-design adopts creative methods of involvement and inclusion across different aspects of the project. We have been working closely with Latimer and the wider design team to ensure that the voices of young people are meaningfully integrated into the future garden community. 

The programmes that we have developed thus far include:

Young People’s Forum

The establishment of a long-term, core group of representative young people – the self-named Essex Young Designers – ensures that young people’s ideas weave into the work of the main design team throughout design development. The cohort is formed by a diverse group of 13- to 18-year-olds from the local area who meet regularly to inform the brief and design of TCBGC.

Schools Design Challenge

To ensure wide reach, as well as in depth engagement, school children from across North Essex were invited to share ideas for the scheme through an open call, ‘Land Sky Water’.

The challenge gave primary and secondary school students the opportunity to design and model innovative ideas for TCBGC.

Summer Studio and Family Days

This part of the programme accelerated from youth engagement into full co-design. 11- to 14-year-olds took part in an intensive summer studio creating a large-scale model of a future Garden Community they would like to see. They also made full-scale prototypes of furniture for a meanwhile garden. Professional fabricators are now taking their designs forward to create a new public realm garden and gathering space in a previously forgotten part of central Colchester, which is being developed by Beth Chatto’s Plants and Gardens.


We have been awarded a commendation in the Youth Engagement category of the Inspire Future Generations Awards. A huge thank you to Thornton Education Trust (TET) for recognising the importance of early-stage youth engagement on large projects such as the TCBGC!

Image courtesy of Tunde Valiszka

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