SmartNewHomes

Taylor Wimpey is celebrating a major milestone in the life of one of the most complex and exciting regeneration schemes it is undertaking anywhere in Britain.

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  • It's now 10 years since Taylor Wimpey embarked on its prestigious Diglis Water development, which is breathing new life into what was a derelict riverside industrial site on the edge of Worcester's historic city centre.

    Just over 300 of the planned 451 homes have already been built at this new waterside community, located at the junction of the River Severn and the Birmingham and Worcester Canal, with the development set for completion in 2017.

    While residents have been quick to take their pick of the plots at the development, narrow boat owners too were fast out of the blocks in snapping up the sought-after permanent moorings that have been created in the inner basin.

    A truly mixed-use development, Diglis Water has also been in demand with small retailers and businesses, which have set up shop at what has already become one of the city's most sought-after addresses - while tourists are a common sight, as they explore what was the city's principal wharf area in the 19th century.

    Damian Hayward lives and breathes Diglis Water. "I've been leading the project since 2007, so have been here six years now," says the commercial director for Taylor Wimpey in the Midlands.

    "To see it take shape over that time has been incredibly rewarding. A decade ago the site was totally run down, there were dilapidated buildings, trolleys and tyres in the water - it was a mess.

    "In fact we spent £5m on a three year remediation programme before we could even think about building here.

    "To look at Diglis Water today, the transformation has been amazing. People just love living by the water. We have built the homes to an enhanced specification, and invested a huge amount of money in the communal areas and public open spaces.

    "You lose count of the amount of people who use the riverside walk to go into the city - it's really popular with walkers, sightseers and cyclists. There's a real buzz about the place, and when the sun's out, it looks absolutely stunning."

    In order to make the best possible use of its prime position and maximise its potential, the Diglis Water site was promoted for regeneration by Worcester City Council and landowner British Waterways, who selected Taylor Wimpey (then Bryant Homes) to deliver the project.

    The remediation works involved dredging a river basin, rebuilding existing river walls and undertaking a full remediation strategy to clear any contamination arising from the previous industrial use of the site.

    Also crucial to preparing the site for development was the completion of flood prevention measures. Worcester is a city which has been historically affected by flooding due to its location right on the banks of the Severn, and so Taylor Wimpey worked closely with British Waterways and the Environment Agency to develop a flood compensation area within the Waterfront Park area of the site which holds excess water in the event of the river breaking its banks, while all residential buildings are constructed to a minimum floor level to ensure they remain above the flood plain during an exceptional rainfall event.

    When it's not fulfilling its function as a flood defence, the compensation area serves as the development's own Waterfront Park with a floating river pontoon, providing an attractive recreation space for residents with appealing views over the river and meadows.

    The park is just one of a number of amenities which have been developed at Diglis Water, with a health and fitness centre also located on site, while the multitude of mooring opportunities are frequently full to capacity with narrow boats.

    Although the vast majority of the existing buildings on site were of little architectural value, three which have strong ties to the area's waterways heritage - the stablemaster's house and two boat houses - have been carefully restored. One of the boat houses has been kept for its original purpose while the remaining buildings are for commercial/retail use, and are complemented by a new build office.

    The development of Diglis Water has also brought with it a number of infrastructure improvements to the local area, including a new relief road to alleviate pressure on a key existing route into the city centre and a refurbished footbridge over the river basin which links to the long distance Severn Way walking trail.

    Overseeing the build is project manager, Andy Shaw, who has been leading the team at Diglis Water since 2006.

    "Working here really spoils you," enthuses Shaw. "It's a real privilege to be at the heart of such a special project and to be able to see it develop over the years.

    "At the height of the build, we've had around 100 contractors on site, and the project has certainly had a positive impact on the local economy.

    "It's been an incredibly challenging site, and I've seen things done that'd I'd never seen before, such as using a torch on a barge to cut off the tops of the steel piles along the river bank.

    "Because it's such an historic site, we've also found all sorts of things here. We think that before it was a concrete works, it may have had a link to the Royal Worcester porcelain works because we found so much old pottery. In fact, we had people turning up with torches in the evenings searching for pieces."

    There's currently a selection of new homes for sale at Diglis Water, including one and two bedroom apartments, and two and three bedroom penthouses, priced from just £124,995.

    Some information contained herein may have changed since it was first published. SmartNewHomes strongly advises you to seek current legal and/or financial advise from a qualified professional.

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