Our resident design group met last week to continue its work with our architects, Archio, on our project at The Lawns.

We were on Zoom again, sadly, but everyone turned up again full of enthusiasm.

We started the workshop by reviewing what we’d discussed and agreed last time, when we looked at the site constraints and agreed our aims.

This is the second proper workshop (after an initial introductions meeting). You can see the plan for the process in this diagram:

First, Archio presented their work to develop some initial options for the site. These were blocks just to show the location, shape and size of any buildings, and the number of flats/houses. Following the aims we’d agreed, they wrestled with three key considerations:

  1. Viability – the more homes we build, the lower the cost of each home, because you spread the cost of remediating and preparing the site and putting in foundations, parking, etc.
  2. Impact on neighbours – the bigger/taller the building, the more impact it will have on neighbours.
  3. Energy – the more compact the building and the more it faces south, the less energy it will take to heat the homes.

After we ask some questions about their options, Brick by Brick presented their work on the cost of each option. Their Quantity Surveyor produced detailed estimates, part of the service we’ve agreed with Brick by Brick.

The Project Board has already started doing some more work with CLH London to put these costs into a financial model. This lets us work out what we’d have to sell or rent the homes for to cover those costs.

It has quickly become clear what a challenging site this is, and how hard it will be to keep costs down so the homes are as affordable as possible.

We then spent the second half of the workshop taking it in turns to share our impressions of Archio’s options. We noted any issues we want addressed, concerns we might compromise on, and aspects of the design we like.

We mostly talked about the impact on neighbours and affordability, but also touched on car parking, the turning head for bin lorries, bin storage and the community garden.

What’s next

We’re now working on the financial model with Brick by Brick and CLH London. This will help us work out which option, or options, will be financially viable and still meet our aims.

If we have a viable option we’ll then take that to the Croydon Council planning department for what’s called a “pre-application meeting”. This gives a chance to road-test our preferred option and get their feedback on how acceptable it looks in planning terms.

We’re also talking with the Greater London Authority about our application for a further grant to pay for the rest of the design work to get us to the point where we can consult with the wider community, and then after further changes go to submit a planning application.

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