Weymede is an estate of 141 houses built in the mid 1960s on the border where Byfleet morphs into Weybridge and set in 15 acres of private, fully enclosed landscaped garden featuring a wide variety of mature trees and shrubs. The estate benefits from its own totally private frontage to the river Wey and is perfectly situated for Weybridge or New Haw stations, Mercedes Benz World, Brooklands museum/shopping and fine local schools. The unique environment of Weymede is protected by legal covenants administered by a committee of volunteer residents.
It is, in short, one of Surrey’s best kept secrets
“Ever wished you lived somewhere where a sense of community still existed, where kids could play safely outside and neighbours were friends, not strangers? Well, places like this do exist: they’re called SPAN developments.” Grand Designs Magazine - 2005
Span housing was the inspiration of two young men who, during the 1930’s, met as architectural students at the Regent Street Polytechnic, London. Eric Lyons and Geoffrey Townsend both had a keen interest in modern architecture. Townsend set up his architectural practice in Richmond, Surrey in 1937 with Lyons joining him a year later. Their work was interrupted by the Second World War but they rejoined again in 1945 to set up a practice in Hampton Court, Surrey. Their aim was to build modern and imaginative buildings. In 1953 Townsend resigned the practice to set up his own development company to build Span homes.
Span, the organisation formed by the melding of architectural and landscape talents of Lyons and Cunningham and the development capability of Townsend & Bilsby built over 2000 modern homes in London, Kent, Surrey and East Sussex.
The basic tenets of a Span home are in part a reaction against the “mock tudor” so prevalent in post war architecture, part as an illustration that individually designed and affordable homes could be built in the middle ground between large council estates and mansions for the wealthy and to prove that planned estates could be genuine communities.
A typical span house used new construction techniques and featured open plan interiors with large areas of glass and would be integrated into the Cunningham designed landscape where “the architectural quality of the village will be achieved by the close relationship between building and landscape”. This relationship is protected by covenants administered by a committee of management most commonly drawn from volunteer residents.
The architectural driving force behind the SPAN movement.
Span estates were designed to “span the gap between the suburban monotony of the typical ‘spec building’ and the architecturally designed individually built residence” and to “think about a community first, the buildings second and to use the placing of dwellings to shape the communal space”
Architect speak maybe and in most housing built since the 1970’s you would need a very large pinch of salt to believe it. Weymede however in common with most Span estates genuinely does just what is says in the blurb. It shatters the dominance of the road and car and brings the garden closer to each home by “placing landscape first, landscape second and landscape last”.
One of Eric Lyons original intentions was to “engineer a sense of community by forcing people to interact by dint of their environment”. Maybe a little utopian but living at Weymede is quieter, friendlier and a whole lot prettier than most suburban areas.
To maintain what we residents consider to be the unique environment of Weymede, covenants (legally enforceable restrictions) are in place. Purchasing a house on Weymede automatically obliges the buyer in law to observe and abide by these restrictions. The Weymede committee of management is elected each year by the residents and are mandated to enforce the covenants. Weymede is an exceptionally fine place to live but these restrictions mean that it will not be for everyone. Before proceeding with a house purchase you are encouraged to at least download the Resident’s Fact Sheet to the right.
All bar a few Weymede houses are registered for a mail group which regularly updates residents about news and events that affect the estate. Weymede also has a private internet collaboration space where residents can ask questions, share or advertise something for sale or an upcoming event. The collaboration space is closed to non Weymede residents but to register for the mail group send a mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Weymede is owned by it’s residents who, each year at an AGM, elect a small committee of volunteer residents to act as directors and management team for The Weymede Residents Society Ltd.
This small team is mandated by residents to preserve and maintain the development’s grounds and public spaces and to ensure that the restrictions that all residents sign up to when purchasing a Weymede property are observed.
Running a fifty year old 15 acre estate with 141 dwellings, mature trees, extensive lawn and shrubs plus a river can be a tough and often thankless task but the advantages of management by residents as opposed to a corporate entity are abundantly clear in terms of value for money, access for residents when something goes wrong and the quality of the work.
The team and a brief description of the role is shown to the right. Questions and comments are most welcome but as the committee team have families such questions should either be adressed to the relevant email address or via a note through the door.
The team is committed to answering any questions promptly and if necessary we will come to see you.
PR encompasses website, dissemination of information to residents and the promotion of Weymede to the outside world.
Overall responsibility for all matters financial pertaining to Weymede
Maintenance of company records and compliance with relevant legislation and regulation. Field general queries from residents. Manage agenda/minutes for all meetings committee or general
Supervision of the care of 15 acres of private grounds at Weymede.
The general maintenance of the public areas encapsulating road and paths, lighting, plumbing, and electricity. Tendering for and monitoring of services and contractors to ensure best value for residents.
Security of public areas, surveillance of compliance to covenants with regard to parking, signed vehicles, tax discs and waste bins. Collaboration with sub committees over events.
Management of the yearly repainting cycle.Tendering for and control of contractors and materials, calculation of the discretional painting rebate and communication thereof to the Treasurer for payment.
The authoritative guide to the span concept and it’s history. Hardbound with 256 pages and lavishly illustrated it is required reading for any Span enthusiast and will impress under any coffee table.
Get it here:
Self published by James Strike, a resident of Field End, a Span estate, this little book aims to capture the spirit of the Span movement using as it’s focus the Field End site. It is out of print but is available for the Amazon Kindle.
Get it here:
Other Span estate websites:
Field End, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham: website
Templemere, Weybridge, Surrey: website
Westfield, Ashtead, Surrey: website
New Ash Green, Kent: website
Marsham Lodge, Gerrards Cross: website
The Priory, Blackheath, London: website
Park Gate, Hove, East Sussex: website
Lakeside, Weybridge: website
Pinterest: fabulous image gallery
Span Blackheath: article
Highsett, Cambridge: PDF
Rayners Road, Putney: flickr gallery
Cedar Chase, Taplow: website
BBC at New Ash Green: PDF
The Lane Handbook: PDF
The Guardian: Let’s move to..: article
Span Blackheath: flickr gallery