From small brownfield sites and a single dwelling for a private client to more expansive mixed developments, housing in all its forms dominates this month
Housing leads this month’s planning update, as perhaps it should in crises of shortage and affordability. RCKa and CPMG show us that even small and unloved urban sites can provide solutions, while TP Bennett and Proctor & Matthews Architects enjoy much larger sites to lay out and design residential schemes far greater in size. On a more bespoke level, Featherstone Young has designed a unique private home in Brighton inspired by the garden, while, away from housing, Cullinan Studio has created a new entrance gateway for a Southwark community sports space.
Uploading or accessing planning documents is an increasingly difficult process, with each local authority seemingly fighting to develop the clunkiest and most inefficient portal experience. There are movements to improve this, however, with plans that new digital technologies might improve the whole planning process not only for architects and interested parties, but also the communities who are affected by, and wish to inform, potential schemes.
The Local Digital team within the government’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has launched a new Planning Data platform available at planning.data.gov.uk, aiming to make land and housing data easier to find and use. The new platform collects data from the many local planning authorities and holds it all in managed datasets that are searchable and viewable from a single place.
Designed as an open-data repository, anybody will be able to download the data in bulk with the software also open source and easily accessible, potentially opening up the data and its uses to new PropTech products and businesses, as well as bespoke uses to benefit local authorities’ development plans. At the moment, only a small number of datasets from a few planning authorities are currently available within the beta stage of the process, with upcoming legislation required to mandate standards.
Over 1,500 homes will be constructed in west London on a site that was, until last year, occupied by the Ministry of Defence. Adopting the name of its former use, Cavalry Barracks will also have 2,700m² of commercial space and 10 acres of open land. This isn’t a complete brownfield project, however, with 14 Grade II and nine locally listed buildings across the site, which had been used as a barracks since 1793.
The site is a short walk across Beaversfield Park to Hounslow West tube station, with links towards the M4 and M25, as well as proximity to Heathrow Airport. It is a strategic site for an approach of comparative high density compared with the surrounding terraced streets, with housing units per hectare in the range of 30-50. In part, this density and the approach of blocks of up to four storeys is due to the central and historic cavalry buildings, which have a monumentality and massing that informed surrounding additions. The central parade ground will be retained as a large open public space, with the Coach Houses, Stable Ranges and prominent Officers and Master Accommodation block converted into accommodation. The materiality of these and other historic blocks also affects the design of new elements to the masterplan, informing six varied typologies of palettes and articulations in order to make sense of such a broad site and aid wayfinding across it.
New blocks, spreading to the west and east of the parade ground, will be built in a buff brick to make visual separation between old and new. Between all those older and newer buildings, a landscape scheme by Fabrik is designed to create a permeable site in all directions, with a green link running east-west as a car-free pathway across the whole site.
Heritage is also central to this scheme for a new village of 127 homes and business space in lands surrounding French-Renaissance-styled Impney Hall, an estate constructed in 1873 for saltworks magnate John Corbett. Located north-east of Droitwich Spa, the 59 hectare estate features several poorly designed 20th century additions accreted as the site became a conference and hotel venue and then a light industrial business hub. These scattered buildings have impacted the reading and approach to the historic main house, despite the broader landscape retaining much of its original form and topography, and are predominantly located over the site of what was once the house’s walled garden.
Historic England disputed the need for the proposed residential project, welcoming the removal of the 20th century additions to open up the space that was once the walled garden, but was critical that it will then be built over again with the housing scheme. They called the general plans 'urban in character, offering no reference to the characteristics of its former use or layout as an important element of the estate and landscape'.
The architects’ Design and Access Statement, however, makes specific acknowledgment of the walled garden, taking inspiration for the formal masterplan arrangement from 'the geometric layout' of the gardens, considering the idea of an outer wall to the site and integrating planting across the scheme to reflect the specific history.
The broader masterplan has two distinct areas. As well as the development over the former walled garden, another, Impney Field, is located the other side of existing John Corbett Way. Each is designed with a different feel and spatial language, while architecturally the scheme takes its cues from local warm red brickwork with white detailing, with semi and detached houses and some apartments, with 10 per cent of the entire stock designated to be affordable.
Te Whare Mara
Tongdean Avenue in the north of Brighton is fast becoming an architectural playground now that recently completed houses by Farshid Moussavi and Turner Works have been joined by this consented home designed by Featherstone Young.
An existing house dating from the late 1960s with numerous architectural issues and little daylight will be demolished to make way for the new project with an aspiration to 'produce a near carbon-neutral building that will also help enhance the biodiversity and wildlife potential of the garden'.
There is in fact more than one garden proposed, with an S-shaped plan filling the site forming three distinct external spaces: an earth-banked front garden; a central lawn with pond and external dining; and, connected to the former with stepping stones over a pond, a hardstanding patio and firepit to the rear with pool and decking. Sitting above the low-pitched planted roofs is a winter garden as lookout post offering views towards the sea. This all speaks to the clients' wishes for a house in which the landscaping works as a series of external rooms with their own character and uses and in which internal and external mingle in a project named Te Whare Mara, translating as Garden House in Māori.
One of the clients is from New Zealand and the ground floor, which includes a glazed fern house that will house tree ferns from their native country, acts as a green buffer between the habitable spaces and boundary wall. Materially, the house will be clad in hardwood boarding with powder-coated aluminium windows, while the second-floor winter garden and garden’s retaining walls will be formed of rammed earth.
Broadfields total site area: 1.39 hectares
Coppetts Road total site area: 0.23 hectares
Client: Barnet Homes
Broadfields landscape architect: Exterior Architecture
Coppetts Road landscape architect: Studio ONB
Planning authority: Barnet
Broadfields planning ref: 20/3742/FUL
Coppetts Road planning ref: 22/1308/FUL
RCKa is celebrating not one, but two related planning successes in their ongoing quest to utilise redundant brownfield land for infill housing, both schemes making use of suburban garage sites. In the north-west corner of Edgware, north London, a long strip of land running through an estate of 1930s, 1960s and 1970s housing had become disused. As both masterplanner and architect of the Broadfields project, RCKa will drop in two angular apartment blocks and improve the landscaping and function of the communal space.
All 28 new units have balcony space and, working with Exterior Architecture, what is currently a clutter of disused sheds and garages will become a linear park, stitching together two sides of the estate and offering safer and more desirable pedestrian routes across, as well as spaces to dwell or play.
Meanwhile, 12km to the west, RCKa’s Coppett’s Road project will deliver 15 affordable homes within a block of maisonettes and apartments and a second block of terraced houses. Also infilling a site of surface car parking and garages, the newly approved scheme is designed to aesthetically tie into the adjacent Martins Walk Estate, also connecting to nearby allotments to provide spatial connection over what was dead and unused space.
These two schemes not only deliver 43 new affordable homes, but work to stitch together existing fragmented urban areas at the expense of a few disused garages and redundant sheds. The firm has put a lot of effort into exploring the possibilities of small and infill urban sites, developing an open-access web portal to provide planning data for London’s boroughs to help identify similar sites.
Social housing in Leicester
A long and narrow site hemmed in between north Leicester terraced houses and a light industrial estate is to become 37 houses and apartments. As with the previous RCKa schemes, the project makes use of a wasted and unloved urban fragment, CPMG’s associate Steve Milan stating that 'there is a real need for new social housing in the city of Leicester and its surrounding suburbs, so we’re particularly pleased to be able to not just deliver homes, but also make use of land that has essentially been edgeland for several years'.
Each home will have front and rear gardens, while new public spaces and pathways through the site will see great improvement upon existing muddy scrubland paths leading towards Melton Brook. It is the brook, currently somewhat undervalued, which has inspired the material palette for the scheme. With no single dominant vernacular to riff off, CPMG has instead sought soft and natural materials 'that will reflect and enhance the green, sylvian setting beside Melton Brook' and so a pale multiblend cream, buff and brown brick alongside horizontal timber panelling has been planned.
These initial 37 homes should be followed by another 24 in Phase Two of the development further down the line.
A sporting gateway
The Marlborough Sports Garden may have a romantically pastoral name, but up until this newly approved Cullinan Studio scheme it hasn’t lived up to its bucolic name. It has, however, provided a much-needed and loved sportsground comprising an all-weather pitch, beach volleyball, basketball and table tennis for communities across the Southwark area of south London, many of whom do not have their own gardens or outside spaces.
The site, managed by client Bankside Open Spaces Trust, has received various funding since 2012, but there has been no overarching aesthetic language tying its various uses together and providing a sense of home for the communities it serves. This scheme sets out to address this by 'making an entrance' with proud visibility from Union Street. The colourful two-storey gateway not only announces its presence, but supports various functions from café, office, storage and banked steps acting as spectator seating. A single green roof spanning the carbon-neutral entrance building allows space for photovoltaic panels and rainwater collection.
The Cullinan Studio design includes joists of varying depths that help maximise the amount of reclaimed timber that can be utilised. The base also feeds into a circular economy of materials formed of reclaimed bricks. Other elements, from the sinusoidal cladding to the timber decking of the spectator seating, will also be constructed using reclaimed materials.
The building is set back from Union Street by 750mm, allowing for green frontage along its length, transitioning into a 'green entrance'. The site is largely hardstanding, given over to sports uses, but spaces have been found for climbers, shading trees and low-maintenance planting, including a herb garden. The scheme was recent winner of a Pineapple Award for Future Place: Public Realm and is shortlisted for two New London Awards.