The Government wants to transform the appearance of the British suburb - and it is looking to the West Midlands to lead the way, reports Jessica Shepherd...
Since the late 19th century, developers across the UK have built rows of almost identical houses set back from the road with a driveway for the car and a piece of garden.
But now the Government is encouraging town and city planners to reject such developments.
Instead it wants them to approve designs which copy centuries-old architectural styles with an "English village feel".
And it is on the edge of Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire that this new suburban aesthetic is being tested out.
Most of the 800 homes being built on the £70 million Trinity-Mead development have Georgian or Edwardian-style details such as slate roofs, terracotta tiles, and different-coloured bricks.
Just like the Tudor and Georgian periods, all the houses stand close to the kerb and are tightly packed against each other leaving little room for cars and lawns.
The 20-hectare site backs on to a similarly-sized expanse of wood and meadowland which gives the impression of a rural village setting. In fact, householders are minutes from the busy A422 and A3400.
Les Greenwood, a planning officer for Stratford District Council, believes the development, which started in 2003 and will be finished by the end of 2007, is in keeping with the surrounding area.
He said: "We are trying to go back to creating something that fits into the historical character of Stratford as a market town, rather than emulate the typical suburban estates built up and down the country in the 1960s.
"We looked for clues in historic parts of Stratford. We decided mainly against culdesacs and a grid system of roads and opted instead for interconnected avenues.
"That way people are moving through constantly, which is safer and less isolating. We found that some of the more modern developments were quite unsympathetic to the countryside around them."
Another reason why planners are being encouraged to agree to developments which copy architecture from the Georgian or Edwardian periods is that they allow for more homes per hectare.
Guidelines from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which came into force in 2000, told planners to approve only designs which had between 30 and 40 homes per hectare.
Trinity Mead's homes, which cost between £160,000 and £400,000, are closer to the roads than those built on modern-style developments and therefore fit in more homes on one road.
But the compact nature of the development has not gone down well with everyone.
Stuart Beese, who is a district councillor for the Alveston ward which covers Trinity Mead, thinks the volume of houses per hectare is more suitable for inner- city housing.
He said: "The high density housing at Trinity Mead is something which has been imposed on us by the Government. I don't think it is the best idea for a market town like Stratford. But I guess it does prevent more developments on greenfield sites."
Professor Jeremy Whitehand, who lectures in the urban geography department at Birmingham University, believes the most important thing to consider when reshaping suburbs is the local environment.
He said: "These developments can be very attractive if the developers are sensitive to the sense of place. However, so often suburbs are transformed rather insensitively and indiscriminately without thinking about the differences between regions in the UK."