Architect: Eric Lyons
New Ash Green
This 3-bedroom property is a meticulously-restored example of a Span house in New Ash Green, Kent. Designed by the architect Eric Lyons for the celebrated development company Span in 1968, it is a great example of a ‘K2A’ house type. For more on Span and the ‘K’ design, please see our HISTORY section.
New Ash Green is a remarkable, and largely undiscovered, village in the Kent countryside that was almost entirely built in the late 1960s / early 1970s. It is a large village that boasts a broad range of shops and services (a bank, a small supermarket, library, doctors surgery etc) and also extensive green spaces including a beautiful village green, orchards, fields and woodland. Approximately 50% of the housing stock on the village was built by Span, a company that is widely considered to be the finest developer of the post-war period. Span, who largely employed the architect Eric Lyons for their projects, had a strong belief in excellence in their housing design and, just as importantly, the landscaping and environment in which the houses were placed.
This house can be found on Punch Croft, a tranquil location close to the village green. The current owners have meticulously restored the house and their work includes a new front door, Span mushroom lighting, renovation of Span units in kitchen and new internal timber cladding. Work has also been done to update the roof and some of the insulation and glazing. For a full list of work done please see the HISTORY section.
Accommodation at the house includes a reception hall with a WC, a living room with floor-to-ceiling glass on both sides, a kitchen and a dining room. Upstairs there are three bedrooms and a bathroom. The owner is a garden designer and has made an attractive landscaped garden at the rear of the house. There is a also a garage that comes with the property.
New Ash Green is well located for train services into London and for access to the motorway network. Longfield (2 miles) is the closest station and runs services to Victoria in 30 minutes. Ebbsfleet (6 miles) runs services to St. Pancras in 18 minutes and is also on the Eurostar line to Paris. Local schools are of a very good standard. There are the grammar schools for which Kent is renowned (Gravesend, Wilmington, Dartford) as well as numerous private schools. New Ash Green itself has a well regarded primary school.
Service charges on Punch Croft total approximately £35 per month. The house is being sold with no onward chain.
Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.
The development company Span built 30 housing estates across the UK between 1948 and 1984. In his book The Spirit of Span Housing, James Strike says: “Span housing was the inspiration of two young men, who, during the 1930s, met as architectural students at the Regent Street Polytechnic. Eric Lyons and Geoffrey Townsend both had a keen interest in modern architecture… They believed that there was a market for well-designed houses in carefully designed landscapes for the sort of people who recognised good design when they saw it – and they were right.”
In 2006, Span housing was the subject of an exhibition at the RIBA, and the accompanying book, entitled Eric Lyons & Span (ed Barbara Simms), gives a comprehensive survey of its history. “The work of the architect Eric Lyons,” it states, “is as well-loved now as it was vibrantly successful when first constructed. Built almost entirely for Span Developments, its mission was to provide an affordable environment ‘that gave people a lift’.”
New Ash Green is perhaps the most ambitious project every undertaken by Span. The company put up approximately half of all the house in the village and did much of the design of the village environment. Cordula Zeidler of the 20th Century Society describes the village as “Span heaven”. She also writes as follows about New Ash Green:
“Architect Eric Lyons and Span Developments Ltd… got planning permission to build houses for 5-6000 people, arranged in neighbourhoods and bound together by landscaping. The centre of this new town was built in the same spirit; a picturesquely arranged group of shops, featuring the typical Span materials and shapes, and served by an organically bent pedestrian street. Today the ground floor units of this shopping centre work well…”
This property being offered for sale was originally built as a ‘K2AW’ house type but since the downstairs WC has been added it can now be categorised as a ‘K2A’.
The main areas that have been improved are:
The addition of the downstairs WC and complete renovation of porch to Span design including new front door/windows.
Redesign and renewal of exterior Span mushroom light.
Complete renovation of kitchen including reinstatement of the Span shelving unit/room divider which was missing and ours obtained from another house. All German appliances etc.
Main bedroom was overhauled to include new timber clad ceiling and exposed original beams.
Garden completely redesigned from scratch including remote exterior lighting, low maintenance architectural planting. Front gardens re-landscaped and planted with Span style planting.
The roof was completely renewed approx 4 years ago plus attic insulation upgraded. Most of the house has had wall insulation upgraded and some new double glazed windows.
Lounge/party wall reinstated to original Span brickwork from plasterboard & wallpaper
House completely redecorated and downstairs new carpets added throughout (March 2012).
Having worked for Walter Gropius and Maxwell Fry, Eric Lyons (1912-1980) co-founded the development company Span in 1948, along with Geoffrey Townsend and Leslie Bilsby. Lyons’s Span houses are all about space and light, and blurring the edges between outside and indoor space. He paid great attention to the surrounding landscape, designing and building properties around existing splendid mature trees and creating communal areas that encourage residents to mix. An early Span publication summarises the origin of the name: “It spans the gap between the suburban monotony of the typical ‘spec building’ and the architecturally designed individually built residence.” Outside of his Span work, Lyons carried out a number of other schemes, including public housing for World’s End in Chelsea. He was appointed President of the RIBA in the 1970s.
Key Residential Projects
Houses on the Cator Estate, Blackheath
Chelsea Reach Tower, World’s End Estate, Chelsea