Grovehill Neighbourhood Plan

CityCAD has been used to support the Grovehill Future community group in Hemel Hempstead to test design options for a local centre.

Since 2012 local communities in the UK have had new powers to make development planning policies at a micro level. Grovehill Future were awarded 'Front Runner' status as one of the first community groups to prepare a neighbourhood plan using the new planning laws.

CityCAD was used to create an information-rich model during a collaborative design workshop. This model raised issues of density, capacity, parking, land use mix and viability, and helped inform ongoing discussions about the relative benefits of redeveloping or refurbishing the neighbourhood centre as part of the neighbourhood plan.

The CityCAD  on- screen modelling during a workshop was a powerful aid to design and planning for the Grovehill Future group. It allowed them to visualise options for their neighbourhood centre and the process highlighted very quickly key issues such as relative viability of the options, parking spaces and floor areas for a mix of housing, community, retail and commercial uses.

All the participants found the workshop extremely useful in helping to firm up on policies in their plan and also found the experience enjoyable too. This really is a fantastic tool for community engagement in design and planning.

Sue McGlynn, urban design consultant and CABE | Design Council built environment expert

About Grovehill

Grovehill is an area of Hemel Hempstead, a town of about 90,000 residents located 24 miles to the north-west of London, and the third 'New Town' in the UK. Grovehill was the last of the town's originally-planned neighbourhoods, developed at the north-eastern edge of the town. Construction started in 1967 and was completed in stages by the early 1980s.

The area benefits from a strong sense of community, and is well connected to both town and country. The neighbourhood plan process is looking at a wide range of issues, including the potential for extending and modernizing facilities in the area, new housing and redevelopment sites, and the quality of the public realm.

CityCAD modelling

CityCAD was used to create a 3D model of Henry Wells Square, a busy and well-used neighbourhood centre, which was discussed at a collaborative design workshop on May 11th 2013.

This model contained several blocks of potential new development including new houses, flats and shops, as well as a new community centre and health facilities.

The model also contained data on typical dwelling sizes, population rates, possible values and construction costs, meaning that the implications of different design options could be visualized on screen and adjusted easily during the discussion.


The CityCAD model allowed several configurations to be tested and discussed on screen, and informed group discussion on the following topics:

  • Is the overall quantity of development right?
  • If there is going to be redevelopment, how should it be phased and what part should be built first?
  • Where should the new community centre go?
  • Should buildings be restricted to 3 storeys? What difference does it make if the buildings are allowed to be 4 storeys?
  • What will the square look like?
  • How many parking spaces will be needed? How many spaces will be shared between flats and shops?