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Eric Lyons and Geoffrey Townsend initially set up their architectural practice in 1938; one of their early objectives was to work with war-damaged housing. Oaklands, an early project 1948 in Whitton, Middlesex, provided the blueprint for the later SPAN developments of the 1950s onwards. The company set out to show that private housing could be every bit as good as that in the public sector. The SPAN format was a cross-wall construction with a flat roof and a bank of window spanning the entire front façade; the exterior was clad with either terracotta tiles or wood. The common architectural elements of the SPAN developments were landscaped grounds, buildings centred around courtyards and self-governing Residents Management Committees – all of which were designed to foster a sense of community.

“It spans the gap between the suburban monotony of the typical ‘spec building’ and the architecturally designed individually built residence”.

key figures within SPAN developments
Eric Lyons .......... Architect/Consultant
Geoffrey Townsend .......... Developer/Managing Director
Ivor Cunningham .......... Landscape Architect
Leslie Bilsby .......... Builder/Managing Director
Ernest Haynes .......... Chairman from 1962

SPAN development projects
Oaklands, Whitton, Middlesex .......... 1948
Parkleys, Ham Common, Surrey .......... 1954–1957
Thurnby Court, Twickenham, Middlesex .......... 1958
Cator Estate, Blackheath .......... 1958–1961
New Ash Green, Kent .......... 1964

poets after whom individual courts in Parkleys, Ham Common, Surrey are named
Byron – Brooke – Coleridge – Dryden – Gray – Herrick – Marlowe – Milton – Pope – Shelley – Spencer – Tennyson