Housing experts from the public and private sectors gathered this week for an extended breakfast talk at NLA, sponsored by Tibbalds, to examine new strategies for forging exemplary estate regeneration schemes.
Executive Director of Housing and Regeneration at Ealing Pat Hayes began by detailing how his local authority had taken more of a developer role in ‘genuinely addressing housing needs across the borough’, often through refurbishing council housing to a high standard and letting it to a mix of tenures. It aims to generate a sense of place, he said, without necessarily knocking estates down in their entirety. Ealing is also setting up its own company to build more private rented product alongside estate regeneration schemes. ‘Councils can lead regeneration’, said Hayes. ‘Forget about the old model and think about the new of borrowing against a general fund and councils doing much more of a varied product than just social housing. We can do estate regeneration in a different way.’ Richard Lavington, Founding Director, Maccreanor Lavington showed a little of how that attitude is playing out on the ground, with the practice’s Acton Gardens scheme an attempt to create as many family units as possible in a wide mix of tenures, with a double-sided street and a terrace of houses backing onto a school.
Westminster City Council’s Head of Major Projects Tristan Samuels said his authority had a slightly different approach given its unique situation and the second highest house price to income ratio in the country at 18:1. Westminster is looking to deliver 800 new homes and 280 jobs in its latest phase, engaging with residents early on HTA-designed schemes like Tollgate Gardens and Ebury Bridge.
Paul Davis + Partners’ Design Partner Pedro Roos had another example to show – One Church Square - some 31 intermediate rented apartments and eight market rented apartments a short walk from Pimlico Station which concentrates on contextual materials including red brick, a sense of community, and sustainability ideas including PV cells and green roofs.
For Jed Young, Regeneration Team Leader, LB Camden, one of the big challenges was working with public budgets in a private market, and he questioned where the European contractors were in all of this. ‘Why aren’t Europeans coming here and helping us do some decent building?’ he asked.
Hilary Satchwell, Director, Tibbalds turned to the Bourne Estate in Holborn, Camden as an interesting example of how teams can work collaboratively and create a successful team even in the light of the ‘reserved acceptance’ of its residents. The project delivers 75 new homes in a sensitive part of central London, working with listed buildings and conservation areas and residents who wanted the new buildings to be part of the estate. ‘The key learning was about making sure the political dimension could be a positive thing here’, said Satchwell.
Barking & Dagenham Divisional Director of Regeneration Jeremy Grint said his own area was now concerned with creating more mixed communities and has set up special purpose vehicles to improve housing delivery. The authority has delivered 800 units over the last four years and has 400 more in the pipeline by March 2016. The key factor, said Grint, is in ensuring that finance, housing and regeneration departments work closely and collaboratively together with their cabinet members.
Andrew Beharrell, Executive Director, Pollard Thomas Edwards said that practices such as PTE had been set up as a reaction to the disillusionment at housing problems of the past – socially monocultural, isolated estates that fostered high levels of deprivation – with a ‘grand aim to eliminate the divisive stigma associated with council housing’. The practice’s project at Thames View East benefited from an innovative arrangement of private investment to build new council homes. It incorporates a system of streets and courtyards including 150 family houses, and concentrates on simple materials, uniformity, and the creation of ‘aspirational council housing.’
Jestico + Whiles Associate Director Eoin Keating, showed how Grahame Park near Collingdale Station in the borough breaks down a masterplan into smaller phases and chunks, learning lessons from schemes in Barking and Dagenham. It will provide around 430 homes in the first phases, with a total of 3,000 new homes and community facilities over the next 15 years. And finally, Barnet Director for Place Stephen McDonald said that the council’s land holdings are the key to driving development and that the authority is developing some 16,000 homes for rent, shared ownership or private sale over the next 20 years. One of the key challenges beyond things like NIMBYism, he said, was having expertise and capacity in house – something Barnet solved by forming a joint venture with Capita a year ago. ‘It’s meant that a place like Barnet has been able to take on the ambition of having 1600 homes’ he said.
David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly