254 - Norwood High Street, London SE27


Planning permission obtained for 14 residential units and a B1 ground floor unit on this back land plot to the rear of Norwood High Street.

The proposed development is mixed use comprising of residential (14 units) and B1 concentrated along the Cumberlow Road frontage. It is design lead and has evolved from careful application of various key design characteristics which reflect the synergy and respond to the needs of the surrounding environment.

Design Approach
Our clients owns the site and are mindful that good design is central to achieving a development which is attractive, fits in well with the surrounding environment and creates the best possible use of space. They have significant experience with design led developments and have been increasingly bringing forward mixed development schemes where residential is combined with other uses best fitted to the needs of the area; thus creating a more sustainable living environment. It is noted that mixed use development is acknowledged by the Council as being sustainable; the emerging UDP states “Development that contributes to the creation of mixed-use communities helping to meet the diverse needs of local communities and reduces the need to travel.” is encouraged.

Our Design Brief is to:
1- Provide high quality residential and office accommodation, ensuring the siting and massing of the development relates well to the characteristics of the site and adjacent buildings;
2 - Provide a development of architectural interest, to invigorate and revitalise the immediate local area, therefore encouraging local growth and investment;
3.- Provide the most efficient use of this under utilised area;
4. - Provide a development which encourages a sense of community and pride.

These key attributes where translated into the following design method.

The site and in particular the area facing Cumberlow Avenue has an existing “ad-hoc” arrangement of buildings which have arisen as a result of sporadic growth over a long period of time and as a result achieves little interest by way of cohesive form or design. The existing uses are employment B1, however they are out of date and in their current form find it difficult to appeal to the modern market. Whilst our client is aware there is no specific policy which requires these uses to be retained they are also aware of the benefits of recreating a suitable form of employment which will appeal to the modern market and create new jobs for local people. The emerging UDP alsorecognises the importance of employment at such locations and states “It is important that town, district and local centres are allowed to develop their roles as employment locations.” It also acknowledges the benefits of locating employment uses in the town centre including “providing employment for local residents closer to their homes” and “Such employment generates additional trade in these centres, contributes to the prosperity of the locality, increases the range of facilities and helps maintain the vitality of these areas.”

The development as a whole is envisaged to have a “green” core and “green” edges, softening the impact of the built form to the street and providing the garden and access. There are 4 significant elements which knit together to provide the accommodation:
1. Street fronted accommodation (employment uses)
2. Upper two storey accommodation
3. Lower two storey accommodation
4. Staircase element and balcony

Street fronted accommodation
The employment development facing Cumberlow Avenue is organised to continue the built line along the road. Thus the prescribed development lines are taken from the adjacent Conservative club, and 10 South Norwood Hill located on the corner. We have considered that 10 South Norwood Hill is the dominant building to the elevation and conceptually faces the major road, we will endeavour to reinforce this by using the rear extension roof as the uppermost limit for our new proposal. Similarly the Conservative Club roof line prescribes a significant massing line of the unit. Using these elements we feel that the elevation rest harmoniously in the landscape and affords no adverse
affects on the neighbouring buildings. We consider that it is a positive improvement to the streetscape and works well with the side elevation of Stanley Hall opposite, creating a constructed urban edge. This also accords with the adopted UDP policyBE3 and also BE4 which states that “Development should respect the form of the street of which it is a part by building to the establishes line of building frontages.” We have utilised the sloping site together with our entrance rationale, to provide garden areas to the ground floor units. Using low brickwork walls and horizontal handrails, we have created secure and discrete areas which would be plated with trees to recreate the Avenue. Cumberlow Avenue has suffered from a lack of investment, and has become semi-industrial in it’s character. Our proposal seeks to regenerate interest and encourage a safer environment by providing supervision of the street. We find this especially important as Cumberlow Avenue appears tobe used as a point of access and exit from the adjacent Technical College. Policy BE18 states “The Council will seek to ensure that the design and layout of buildings and public areas helps to deter crime and reduces the fear of crime.”

Two storey accommodation
The lower accommodation similarly is double aspect, with garden areas as a connection zone to the boundary walls. The high level of glazing affords a good quality of daylight and allows supervision of garden areas to the front and rear. The roofscape has been organised to increase incident light into the garden, and are compositionally arranged to connect all the elements together.

Staircase element and balcony
The staircase provides the unifying element to the rest of the development. It is considered to be a quietly sculptural object, placed within the landscape of the internal garden. Whilst exposed to the weather, there is a cantilevered roof which protects the residents whilst ascending. All of the shared elements are thought to be essential in the overall concept of encouraging resident interaction and a sense of belonging. With this comes a pride in the sense of place, and sustainability. The design approach taken for these residential units is that they should be highly contextual, though contemporary. Using proportion and material references it would be most appropriate to create buildings that are in scale and harmony with their surroundings, refer to a human scale, and provide high quality internal accommodation appropriate to modern life. We believe that these proposal are a contemporary interpretation of the Victorian buildings adjacent, they are not however over-imposing or dominant in the landscape. They are composed of similar elements and constructed of similar materials, and enhance the natural beauty of this conservation area. PPG1 states “particular weight should be given to the impact of development on existing buildings and on the character of Conservation Areas.”

The residential units have been arranged in a manner which ensures they have satisfactory daylight and sunlighting (see attached solar study) in accordance with the adopted UDP policy BE16 which states “The Council will also ensure that those proposals cause no significant loss of sunlight or daylight amenities.” The proposed arrangement s also maximizes the privacy of prospective occupiers; policy BE17 states “The Council will require that new and existing occupiers are protected from undue visual intrusion and loss of


Design Completed November 2003