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Kidbrooke Masterplan

Masterplan for 4,800 new homes, together with retail and leisure uses, office, hotel, supermarket, GP surgery, a new railway station, and a replacement primary school, on the site of the Ferrier Estate with detailed design for phase 1. Designed by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands.

We reviewed proposals for phase 2 of the development on 16 December 2009.

Introduction

We support the principles of access, scale, layout, use, landscape design and appearance set out in the outline application and we support the design of the detailed application for Phase 1 of the masterplan. We commend the developer and local authority for their positive collaboration, particularly for putting the appropriate planning policy in place at the beginning of the process and for appointing an integrated, urban design-focused design team. We feel that this sophisticated proposal will provide a strong framework for the future phases of development.

Kidbrooke has the potential to be an exemplar for sustainable suburbs and the re-development of local authority housing estates. It is in this context of enthusiastic support for the scheme that we offer the following detailed comments: a request that a robust framework for management of the open space should be embedded in any approval, a suggestion that the location of the extra care facility should be reassessed and a concern about the sustainability of the proportion of 1-bedroom flats proposed.

Sustainability

In spite of the fact that a development of only 30 years old is to be demolished to make way for this masterplan, we consider this scheme to be inherently sustainable. By providing a medium density development with the potential for stitching the disparate urban fabric together and incorporating green space for recreation and ecology, this scheme transcends the usual sustainable and eco tags. However we note that, within the mix of units, 29% of the homes will be one-bedroom flats and we question whether a higher proportion of larger units should be offered in order to promote a more stable and sustainable future community.

This scheme’s sustainability credentials are enhanced by an understanding the positive and negative aspects of the existing Ferrier estate. For instance, building on the original grid layout is intelligent; it not only maintains the good solar orientation but allows for the re-use of the existing services. It is essential that other negative lessons learnt about poor community cohesion and ineffective estate management are also heeded.

The robust management of the open space will be fundamental to its long term success and sustainability. We recommend that the local authority satisfies itself that an appropriate strategy is embedded in any planning approval.

Parkland/urban structure

We support the uncomplicated gridded form of the urban structure and the use of the green ribbon as a heart to the development. We feel that the conversion of Kidbrooke Park Road, from distributor road to park boulevard, is fundamental to the success of this structure. We support the proposals for treating the redefined road and its integration with the park including the concept of at-grade crossings and green space character areas. The engagement of the c-shaped edge blocks with the park appears to successfully define the boundaries between public and private realms. We welcome the phasing proposal that includes the adjacent area of parkland in each phase and suggest that trigger points should be embedded in any approval to ensure that works may not progress unless the appropriate landscape work has been completed.

We welcome, in general, the changes that have been made to terminate the park with more clarity at its northern end and integrate it better with the existing context to the south. However, although we support the relocation of the school to define the northern boundary of the park, we have reservations about the relocation of the extra care facility. We suggest that homes for older people might benefit from being located within the heart of a neighbourhood and close to its other amenities, rather than on a peripheral site.

We support the design principles of the hub; we think that the reduced height, the elimination of residential accommodation from its northern side, and the inclusion of 2-storey houses to better define the outer edges of the triangular plots, are all positive design changes.

Phase 1

We are confident that the detailed proposals for Phase 1 successfully demonstrate the robustness of the masterplanning principles. We welcome, in particular, the successful demonstration of the residential quality of a number of the masterplan typologies. We appreciate the efforts made to limit the use of long access corridors and single-aspect, north-facing flats. We support the use of maisonettes and would recommend that this be expanded to provide even more duplex units with individual entrances at ground level where possible. We feel the exploitation of levels to conceal parking and create a clear definition between the private courtyards and the public park works successfully.  

While the loss of the park frontage for some residents of Eltham Green Road is unfortunate, we believe that, through the successful knitting of the proposed new housing into the existing urban fabric, this will be for the greater good of the whole community. We support the design changes that have developed clear and legible connections through from the existing housing to the park.

Conclusion

We support the planning application and look forward to seeing the detail of this masterplan as it develops over the coming years. We feel that it would be a positive move to have a variety of architectural practices working on the different phases as they come forward. It is essential that the green spaces are delivered at an early stage of development and that a clear management plan is in place to integrate the green spaces into the wider development. However, we suggest that the design team reviews the location of the extra care facility and the proportion of 1-bedroom flats.

The success of Phase 1 will also be dependent on the appropriate use of materials and the detailed design of the scheme to include the facades and landscaping. The local planning authority should be convinced that the development can be built to a high quality and may wish to apply conditions to ensure an appropriate level of control on design details.