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London roundup – major new regen schemes in Old Kent Road and Brent

The team of architects who will design plans to transform the Currys PC World site on Old Kent Road into hundreds of new homes has been appointed by Southwark Council. The property is part of one of London’s largest regeneration schemes, seeking to return Old Kent Road - most famous for being the cheapest square on the Monopoly board - to former glories.

The mixed-use development is set to include the delivery of approximately 500 new homes, with half of these being ‘much-needed’ new council homes. The new homes will form part of the council’s programme to build 11,000 new council properties across the borough by 2042, with 2,500 of these started on site or delivered by 2022.

As well as new homes, the council’s scheme will include around 5,000 square metres of new commercial space and land which could be used for a new further education facility. In addition, it will generate new jobs for Old Kent Road, both in its construction and in future.

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Southwark Council acquired the land currently occupied by Currys PC World and an adjacent B&M store in 2019, and the development will be net carbon neutral to support the council’s ambitious climate emergency commitments.

The scheme’s design team will be led by three architectural practices, who were chosen using the council’s new Architect Design Services Framework (ADSF). This was expanded and enhanced last year to attract both established and emerging architect firms ‘with a diverse leadership and workforce’.

The newly-appointed team – Morris + Company, Weston Williamson + Partners, and West Port – ‘represent an exciting group of new and experienced designers who all have prior experience of working in Southwark and will collaborate on this major masterplanning project’.

Their successful bid was supported by landscape architect BBUK, sustainability consultancy Greengage (which assisted with the social value commitments), and by Soundings with its community engagement work.

Next year a public consultation on the Currys PC World scheme will begin, with the first new homes potentially delivered in 2024.

“We are really excited to be part of an amazing design team and look forward to creating a new residential-led mixed-use scheme on the Old Kent Road,” Shaun Ihejetoh, director at West Port, said.

“The next 10-15 years will see a lot of change in this part of Southwark. We look forward to helping shape a scheme that is responsive to local needs, embodies sustainable development principles and works with the wider regeneration masterplan of the area.”

He added: “The Old Kent Road embodies many things that make London unique: the buzz, the diversity and the potential of the area drew us to this project. Through sharing and building upon our existing knowledge and experiences with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups in the area we hope to help deliver a scheme that is made by and representative of the communities it will serve.”

David Storring, director at Morris + Company, commented: “We are thrilled to be working with Southwark Council to establish Old Kent Road as a thriving destination, delivering a unique mix of commercial, workspace, residential and public realm spaces. Our scheme designed collaboratively alongside Weston Williamson + Partners and West Port will provide high-quality homes to suit multi-generational living within a diverse neighbourhood.”

Beatrix Young, partner at Weston Williamson + Partners, also said: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting project, building on our long-standing collaboration with Southwark Council and the local residents. As a local Southwark-based practice, we always look for opportunities to support sustainable growth and development within the borough, building on our established links with local schools, business and residents.”

She added: “The council’s tender process allowed us to showcase the inclusive approach we take to developing design teams working with established and new practices and promoting under-represented groups in the profession. We believe that our combined offer, that will focus on high-quality, low-carbon new homes and unique placemaking, will create an exceptional city-shaping development for the Old Kent Road.”

Cllr Johnson Situ, the Labour Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency, Planning and Transport at Southwark Council, said the vision for the Old Kent Road is to harness ‘its unique character as London’s oldest thoroughfare’ to create a go-to destination, where its diverse communities can thrive, with the addition of new homes, business space, and quality open spaces.

“As part of our wider Old Kent Road plans, this new scheme is a fantastic opportunity to build council homes and continue our work to ensure that the people who design our homes better represent the rich diversity of the people who live in them,” he added.

“I’m delighted that such a strong group of architects from different backgrounds have been appointed, bringing a new range of perspectives to this work and helping us create a legacy of new council housing that puts the local community at the forefront of designs.”

You can find out more about the regeneration of Old Kent Road here and read our London regeneration piece on the area here.  

Green light given for thousands of new homes in Brent

Plans to build many new homes in one of London’s largest boroughs moved a step closer after the local council approved hundreds of new properties across three major development schemes in Brent.

To contribute to the ongoing transformation of the borough, the three schemes that were given the green light are the revised Grand Union masterplan (formerly Northfields Industrial Estate) in Beresford Avenue, the Abbey Manufacturing Estate, Mount Pleasant (pictured below), and the Matalan site at Cricklewood Broadway.

London roundup – major new regen schemes in Old Kent Road and Brent

Each of the developments involves the need to demolish existing buildings to make way for new homes, including affordable homes for those in housing need. They also include commercial units, affordable workspaces and community uses, as well as new public and private open space, tree planting and landscaping, and public realm improvements.

Cllr Shama Tatler, Labour’s Lead Member for Regeneration, Property & Planning at Brent Council, said: “The proposals not only improve these areas and the borough as a whole, but also create more much-needed affordable housing for Brent residents. This once again shows that Brent is on the up and the transformation of the borough will benefit residents, businesses and communities across the borough.”

What are the schemes?

Grand Union (Northfields Industrial Estate), Beresford Avenue, Wembley

A previously consented version of the scheme is already being built out on site, but the revised masterplan is for the comprehensive redevelopment of the area to provide a mixed-use development with approximately 3,300 new homes (35% of which are affordable), workspaces and commercial units, a nursery, community centre and medical centre, private and public open space including a new canal-side piazza, extensive landscaping and tree planting, and public realm improvements to Beresford Avenue to improve the route to Stonebridge Park station.

The revised scheme improves the landscaping and public open space, and increases the number of new homes by around 300 over that previously consented.

The development also includes measures to help the ecology of the area, including significant works to restore the waterside edges and support habitat creation along the Brent River and Grand Union canal. In addition, the scheme has made ‘significant contributions’ to local transport infrastructure improvements.

Some 25% of the workforce at Grand Union were Brent residents as of January 2021, while eight Brent residents have been given apprenticeships, six unemployed Brent residents have been given jobs, and there has been two work experience placements supported for Brent residents.

Abbey Manufacturing Estate, Mount Pleasant, Alperton

The redevelopment and provision of a mixed-use development for 684 (35% affordable - a mixture of affordable rent and shared ownership) new homes, commercial floorspace, affordable workspaces and community uses, landscaping and public realm improvements.

The scheme includes new public roads to help connectivity through the area, as well as opening up public access to the canal which will have new landscaped areas. The scheme includes ‘extensive tree planting’, and other sustainability aspects such as the use of green/biodiverse roofs, bat and bird boxes and log and brash piles in the open spaces to encourage new habitats for wildlife.

Existing streets ‘will be better’, with highways improvements at the junction of Mount Pleasant and Woodstock Avenue, while there will also be contributions to other transport infrastructure improvements, including towards increased local bus capacity.

The new buildings ‘will be a sustainable construction’ and will include the use of Air Source Heat Pumps to provide 85% of the development's heat needs. It also includes a rooftop photovoltaic system.

Brent Council says the applicants have committed to an employment and training plan to support local residents into apprenticeships and jobs.

Matalan Discount Club, Cricklewood Broadway, London

This scheme includes the demolition of existing buildings and the erection of three buildings ranging from three to seven storeys with basement. Once complete, they will comprise 239 Build to Rent self-contained residential units with commercial space at ground floor level, creation of a new street, associated landscaping, car and cycle parking, and private and communal amenity space.

The site, together with the Wickes site to the north, is allocated for residential and commercial in the draft Local Plan, with retail uses being encouraged to locate in town centres to improve their vitality and viability.

The delivery of housing will include 50 affordable rent dwellings and 73 family-sized dwellings.

The development ‘will provide significant ecological enhancements to the site’, with a new public park at the northern end of Park Street, street tree plantings, courtyard, and rooftop landscaping.

The applicants have committed to an employment and training plan to support local residents into apprenticeships and jobs.

Modern homes rise out of the dust

Sticking with Brent and news that a derelict warehouse has been transformed into ‘state-of-the-art’ homes for Brent residents with the help of a grant from the council’s empty property team.

As a result, Narayan Mews in Willesden now boasts 13 new houses with ‘top-quality facilities and furnishings’, which will soon be home to local people who otherwise would be homeless and seeking temporary accommodation.

All the properties have underfloor heating and feature modern conveniences such as dishwashers and microwaves.

London roundup – major new regen schemes in Old Kent Road and Brent

The landlord of the 13 properties said he was persuaded to accept a grant from Brent in view of all the benefits.

“I had an emotional investment in these properties,” he said. “I wanted quality tenants; people who would respect the property and treat each house as their own.”

He added: “Brent convinced me that their tenants do treat properties well and tend to remain for a longer duration. If I went private, I might have received more rent overall. But if you factor in the possible higher turnover of tenants, then I would have accrued some loss.”

Jacqueline Connerky, Empty Properties Officer at Brent Council, said: “I kept in regular contact with the landlord over four years, which has bought us to this point of successful completion. I arranged meetings with our partnering Housing Associations because it was important that the project stacked up financially for the landlord. Our excellent rents and management service eventually convinced him to accept our empty property grant.”

The council said one house has also been adapted to accommodate a tenant with a hearing impairment.

In addition, the local authority has financed the installation of a video entry system, a personal alarm, a fire alarm with a vibrating alert and a flashing light doorbell to enable the tenant to be safe in their home and live independently.

London roundup – major new regen schemes in Old Kent Road and Brent

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Lead Member for Housing and Welfare Reform on the council, said: “Every empty home in our borough means one fewer family has a home to call their own. A safe home is the foundation for physical, mental and financial well-being. Property owners are usually keen to avoid their houses standing empty – not least because they pay higher council tax – and this is a great example of how the assistance available can make a difference.”

If you have an empty property and want to apply for a grant, or need help and advice to bring it back into use, you can email the Empty Property team at empty.property@brent.gov.uk or call 020 8937 2384 (option 1, then option 4).

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