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Kidbrooke Phase 2

Greenwich

Phase 2 of the masterplan for redevelopment of the Ferrier Estate, including 629 new homes. Designed by Scott Brownrigg and PRP.

16 December 2009

Planning reference: 09/2269/R

Tagged with: Design review | Design review panel | Housing | London

We reviewed the masterplan for this scheme on 23 December 2008.

Summary

We remain supportive of the approved masterplan for Kidbrooke and we are pleased that our two reservations about the masterplan – the location of the extra care block and the low proportion of larger family homes – have been addressed. However, we are disappointed that the level of quality in the detailed resolution and architectural response of phase 2 is significantly lower than what was submitted for phase 1 and appears to be a dumbed down version of the sophisticated and ambitious masterplan. We have concerns about the detailed resolution of the C-shaped blocks with the park edge, the lack of clarity between house fronts and backs along the southern edge of the site, the resolution of the “urban house” typology, the residential quality of the apartments and the lack of landscape proposals for the park. We do not support the planning application in its current form and recommend that these issues should be addressed before the application is determined.

Site layout

We maintain our support for the urban design principles of the masterplan, which provide a robust framework for the future phases to come forward. We welcome the relocation of the extra care block to a more central location in the heart of the new neighbourhood.

However, with the development of a revised layout to accommodate more houses, which we support in principle, a lack of clarity between front and backs of houses along the southern boundary of phase 2 has developed. The houses to the north of Weigall Road are effectively accessed from the north through their back gardens, which will decrease street activity on Weigall Road and reduce the level of natural surveillance on both Weigall Road and the new parallel road to its north. While the Weigall House type has been developed with consideration of access from the rear with a lobbied back door provided, the rear doors to the town house type are patio doors to the dining room, which are impractical for regular use as the main entrance.

Houses

We welcome the exploration of a new residential typology and support the intention to investigate the potential for a hybrid between the traditional house and an apartment. However, we have serious reservations about the single-aspect, deep-plan nature of the house, which is not offset by appropriate increased floor to ceiling heights. We question whether a top-lit bedroom is acceptable in a new-build situation and are also concerned about the quality of daylight and privacy to the bedroom facing the light-well. Furthermore the light-well appears too small to be really usable.

We are disappointed by the way the house types turn the corners. We are pleased that the flank elevations include windows that provide overlooking but the elevations are poorly composed and proportioned. The hierarchy of primary and secondary streets is unclear from the way in which the corners have been treated.

Apartment and extra care apartment blocks

The undercroft car park along the park edge is screened by the edge of the park but this has created an awkward excavated space between the car park and park edge, which is much less successful than the terraced treatment proposed for this typology in the masterplan and a potential management and safety issue. The engagement of the C-shaped blocks with the park appears less well resolved in phase 2 than in the masterplan typology study or the comparable blocks submitted as part of phase 1.

We support the use of maisonettes with individual entrances at ground level but although certain streets have been well activated by this, others are lined only with refuse stores and car park ventilation grills. It is also disappointing that, while the masterplan typology studies and the phase 1 examples show sophisticated internal block layouts that maximise the number of dual aspect flats and limit the number of flats accessed from each circulation core, the design of the phase 2 apartment blocks has reverted to an arrangement of long central corridors with predominantly single-aspect flats. The architectural treatment of the apartment blocks, is banal and generic in comparison to what was proposed for the apartments in phase 1.

Landscape design

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. However, we are disappointed that the landscape design for the first phases of the new park does not appear to have progressed from the landscape and public realm strategy that was submitted as part of the outline application.

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.

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 overall has the potential to be inherently sustainable. By providing a medium density development with a range of housing typologies and 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. We welcome the increase in the proportion of larger units and the mix of different typologies proposed within phase 2, which will help to promote a more stable and sustainable future community. However, we are disappointed that the team is committing only to Code for Sustainable Homes level 3, which we do not consider to be sufficiently ambitious for a scheme of this significance.

Conclusion

While we maintain that the approved masterplan is robust, we have many reservations about the detailed resolution of phase 2, which we do not believe has developed the principles of the masterplan as successfully as phase 1. Regrettably, many of the qualities that made phase 1 exceptional have been lost and the sophisticated thinking behind the masterplan has been diluted. This scheme is not yet good enough and we cannot support the planning application as it stands.