Transforming the urban landscape
By Rahul Patalia, Partner – Buildings
When Prime Minister David Cameron announced a £140 million fund this week to tackle the country’s most blighted housing estates, one of our biggest urban regeneration projects immediately sprang to mind.
The Thamesmead Estate, famously featured in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 masterpiece A Clockwork Orange, is a classic example of what Mr Cameron referred to in The Sunday Times as “concrete slabs dropped from on high, brutal high-rise towers and dark alleyways that are a gift to criminals and drug dealers.”
Now, the estate – currently home to 50,000 people – is being transformed by Peabody Housing Association as part of a 10-year regeneration plan that presents an opportunity to design out some of the inherent social, environmental and structural problems typically associated with 1960s housebuilding. With Crossrail due to arrive in 2018, Thamesmead is set to become a thriving and affordable community.
Redefining the poor layouts of existing estates creates a safer, accessible and more socially inclusive environment. It also, as identified in the “Completing London’s Streets” report from Savills, allows for more sustainable increases in density – helping to solve urban housing shortages – and greater scope for mixed-use development.
London alone is faced with the greatest housing crisis since the Second World War, and it’s a trend mirrored nationwide – another reason that 100 so-called “sink estates” across Britain are now slated for replacement or complete redesign.
At the Abbey Wood and South Thamesmead housing zone, we are providing transport and engineering services for the masterplan and a planning application for around 1,900 new homes, due to be submitted shortly. This year, we are also on site for the first phase of the overhaul of the Agar Estate in Camden. The 500-home scheme will see 112 of the existing low-rise houses demolished, 360 new homes built, and the central, 18-storey Lulworth House tower block stripped back to its frame and retrofitted to provide new apartments. Part of Camden Council’s Community Investment Programme, the project is the largest Passivhaus development in the UK and was a winner at the Housing Design Awards 2015.
We have received significant recognition for working on major award-winning regeneration schemes in London – and our integrated approach, combining our collective skills in transport, planning, environment and engineering, will allow us to help shape sustainable masterplans for troubled estates earmarked for revitalisation across the UK under this latest scheme.
Alongside our technical skill is a longstanding commitment to effect positive social and environmental change. Our growing involvement in estates regeneration gives us the demonstrable ability to contribute to both.