Plans submitted for major Brixton regeneration proposals

A planning application has been submitted for the community-led regeneration of Somerleyton Road that could see more than £100 million invested in this part of Brixton.

Igloo is delivering the project as a development manager for a client group comprising Lambeth Council, Ovalhouse Theatre and Brixton Green. Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design is advising on planning. The lead architect is Metropolitan Workshop, with Haworth Tompkins, Mæ, Foster Wilson and Zac Monro each appointed to deliver different elements of the overall masterplan.

Located to the south west of Brixton town centre, the 1.5 ha site sits off Coldharbour Lane, between Brixton tube and rail stations. It was identified as a potential development area in the 2009 Brixton Masterplan and as a result, Lambeth Council formed a partnership with local arts organisation Ovalhouse and community benefit society Brixton Green to produce a shared vision for the project that incorporated local residents and businesses views, and ultimately inspired the current planning application.

The proposals have been designed to meet local housing needs and to improve the area for the whole community. They include:

  • 303 new homes – all for rent and aimed at local people, including extra care homes. At least 50 per cent will be Affordable homes.
  • A new home in Brixton for the Ovalhouse Theatre in a landmark location on the junction with Coldharbour Lane
  • A range of mixed uses along Somerleyton Road, including a new flexible community space, educational space, cultural and creative workspaces, community facilities, nursery, retail and a street gym
  • Communal and neighbourhood open spaces
  • The retention and refurbishment of Carlton Mansions and the locally-listed ‘Nuclear Dawn’ mural
  • Lambeth Council is acting as funder for the project, and will retain the long-term freehold interest in the completed development on behalf of local residents

The development team’s overarching strategy has been to design a collection of familial buildings that work together to create an engaging street scene, all with front doors facing Somerleyton Road and in a variety of styles that reflect their different uses and respond to the local area. The five buildings along Somerleyton Road – four new buildings plus the refurbishment of Carlton Mansions – will have footprints that step forward and back in response to the existing trees and below ground tunnels. Building heights respond appropriately to the local context and would range from two to three storeys to taller buildings, with six to 11 storeys closer to Brixton town centre.

Public realm improvements are fundamental to the plans, with open spaces strategically designed to create ‘hotspots’ where residents can meet, socialise and relax. A variety of uses are included, from a street gym and community growing garden to a new children’s play area and a new multi-purpose yard space. These are in addition to the communal amenity provision in the new housing, including roof terraces and residents’ gardens.

Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Growth said:

“Somerleyton Rd is exciting, innovative and genuinely created through partnership. It represents a unique opportunity for local people to shape their own community and I would like to pay tribute to so many who’ve worked so hard to get us to this stage.”

John Long, Development Director at igloo, said:

“This is the sort of project Igloo lives for – piecing together a hand-picked team of creative professionals to deliver a meaningful, neighbourhood-scale development for a community-minded, responsible client, and involving local people at its heart. It’s of the community, for the community.”

Hilary Satchwell, Director of Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, said:

“This is a great example of what can be achieved on public land by a range of organisations working together to create mixed-use, mixed-tenure high-quality places. This planning application supports the aspirational-specific planning policy in place for the site and follows the input of a broad range of local people throughout the scheme development process.”

Nick Phillips, Associate, Metropolitan Workshop, said:

“From the very outset, our approach has been to assemble and coordinate a strong team of architects for the individual buildings, to produce a coherent street of co-ordinated variety.”

Edmund Wilson, Partner, Foster Wilson Architects said:

“Foster Wilson Architects is delighted to be working with the Ovalhouse Theatre to design their new home in the centre of Brixton. The new building would provide two new studio theatres and seven flexible studio spaces capable of hosting a wide range of theatre productions, rehearsals, classes and community events.

“There would be a large foyer with café and bar that fronts onto both Coldharbour Lane and Somerleyton Road, providing a public space for people to meet throughout the day. The building would be fully wheelchair accessible and incorporates a number of environmental benefits, including natural ventilation and a biodiversity green roof with solar panels. Creative workspaces would be provided on the top two floors of the building.”

Chris Fellner, Associate, Haworth Tompkins said:

“We are delighted to work as part of the project team to design 71 new high-quality homes and community facilities on Somerleyton Road. A new nursery and community spaces would provide new facilities for both the residents as well as the wider local community. We are also proposing to provide new retail units and to re-landscape Somerleyton Passage in order to improve this currently neglected space.

“The new homes would be a mixture of all tenures, pepper potted across the blocks and floors, providing a diverse and stable community. There will be a range of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom flats, all with corner balconies and living rooms ensuring that the spaces are light with lots of fresh air and great views out. There will also be shared gardens for the residents, providing space for children to play and opportunities for the neighbours to meet.”

Sabine Hogenhout, Project Architect, Mæ said:

“As part of an ambitious regeneration project for Lambeth Council we have created an extra care housing scheme that allows independent living, with care support as required, for people aged over 55. Residents would enjoy self-contained flats alongside shared facilities allowing them to engage in communal activities or to retreat for privacy.

“Design principles are applied to meet the specific needs and aspirations of older people now and in the future. Dual aspect layouts provide plenty of daylight, fresh air and great views over the neighbourhood. The multi-purpose spaces, including a lounge and restaurant, would be available for residents to enjoy; along with gardens and winter gardens designed to encourage sensory planting and vegetable growing, as well as quiet contemplation.”

Zac Monro, Principal Architect, Zac Monro Architects said:

“We’re delighted at being the ‘local colour’ in amongst such a skilled and capable team of architects, and on such a ground-breaking community-based project. It is something that will do so much for Brixton, on a plot of land that has for so long been viewed by many as one of our ‘lost places’, and one that will now remain in the hands of the community. With Brixton changing the way it is we see this as a real opportunity to deal with this issue of ‘gentrification’ and look at the alternatives to purely market-driven developments.

“We particularly relish the task we’ve been given with Ovalhouse at Carlton Mansions, a building suffused in so much local history and alternative culture. Being allowed to bring our own brand of sympathetic care to this old friend is an honour. Long may it stand, with one eye on the past and one foot in the future.”

The project team is targeting a BREEAM Very Good rating for all non-domestic buildings, with an aspiration to achieve BREEAM Excellent and a Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 for all proposed dwellings on site.

BWB’s M&E and Sustainability team has developed a site-wide energy strategy in collaboration with the architectural teams to reduce the incumbent energy consumption of the scheme, with the main driver to reduce energy costs for residents.

BWB’s transport team also worked closely with the masterplanner and landscape architects to create an environment and public realm that was much more people-focussed. Reducing the dependence on vehicular access across the site was a fundamental principle identified in the community workshops and was a fundamental principle of the development.

Allan Dunsmore, Director at Conisbee, added:

“In our role as structural and civil design engineers for the Somerleyton Road development we are relishing the opportunity to contribute to this exciting new project which is primarily focussed on providing for the local Brixton community. Working with a highly skilled and diverse architectural design team is a privilege for us and in creating an engineering solution that is efficient, durable and enjoyable we are certain that the end result will be a source of real pride for the community.”