We unveiled the initial designs for our homes at The Lawns at our Annual General Meeting, with members of the Board and Resident Design Group explaining the process so far and what will come next.

On Thursday 11th November we met at the Salvation Army on Westow Street, in person for the first time since 2019! It was great to see existing members and new faces come to discuss how we can build homes that are as green and affordable as possible in Crystal Palace.

Rob Shaw, chair of our Project Committee, gave a presentation explaining the progress to date, and how we’ve got here.

We have:

  • secured over £300,000 of funding,
  • gained early input and feedback from local residents on The Lawns and further afield,
  • engaged a project manager, architects, solicitors, surveyors and other specialists,
  • set up a Resident Design Group (more below),
  • presented our proposals to Croydon’s planners for feedback,
  • secured a 250 year lease on the land from Croydon Council

The site itself is very challenging. It is small, slopes steeply in two directions, is contaminated, is close to neighbouring homes and has a beautiful oak tree that we will protect. Trying to make the homes green and affordable on such a tricky site, and make the project financially viable, is a hard ask.

We set up a Resident Design group to work with the architects on responding to these challenges. The group is representative of the Crystal Palace area in terms of age, sex, race/ethnicity and income. They decided early on that affordability and green standards should be the first and second priority, and guided the architects.

Mother Joyce spoke about her passion for affordable housing and her appreciation of the design process so far.

Here are the early results of their work…

First, the site plan, showing where the homes, gardens and car parking would go.

We would build three blocks down the slope, and move the existing turning circle to just beyond the oak tree, for those who know the site.

Next, the site overview, showing the three blocks – two three story and one two storey block.

We envisage these containing 7 or 8 one and two bed flats.

They would all be classed as ‘affordable’, but at the moment we think the best we could do is to reduce costs to about 70% of local market prices. We are going to work to improve that if at all possible. But rest assured, we are not personally making any profit out of this – we are all volunteers, and this is simply the reality of trying to build 7 or 8 affordable homes on a tricky site.

We tried to fit larger family homes on the site, but couldn’t make them work without too big an impact on the neighbours or breaking the financial model for the project,

You can see how they might look from street level.

These are just initial designs.

Our Resident Design Group will soon resume work with the architects to develop these into more detailed plans.

Our aim is to launch a public consultation and submit a planning application in Spring 2022.

Members raised some other good points at our AGM.

Tim, one of our Project Committee members, asked Cllr Patricia Hay-Justice about the empty home on The Lawns. He has been raising this on behalf of the CLT with the council for two years now. As he said on Thursday, why should residents on the street welcome new homes when the council can’t even sort out the subsidence to bring an empty council home back into use?

Emma and Rebecca raised the ongoing scandal of abysmal quality council housing at Regina Road, and asked what’s happening with some land there which was due to be built out by Brick by Brick. We wrote to the council earlier in the year asking for a discussion about whether Crystal Palace CLT and other community organisations could take these on, rather than selling them off to private developers.

Lots to think about as we plough on with our work!

If you would like to get involved in our CLT, get in touch. We need more hands on communications and community engagement in particular.