• Urban Design
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Housing

Eastfields Estate,
Merton

Info

Project Details:

Taking a collaborative approach to transform a suburban neighbourhood.

Client: Clarion Housing Group

Construction Value: £130m

Completion: 2029 (estimated)

Location: Merton

Awards:

  • New London Awards 2016: Masterplan & Area Strategies: Shortlisted
  • Planning & Placemaking Awards 2016: Award for Stakeholder Engagement in Planning: Shortlisted
  • AJ120 Architectural Collaboration of the Year 2015: Shortlisted

People

Clarion Housing Group is exploring the regeneration of Eastfields in Mitcham alongside two other neighbourhoods. Working closely with residents, the focus is on providing better homes and better connecting them to the wider community.

We knew the key to improving Eastfields was to add variety, and so we proposed collaborating with Proctor and Matthews and Cullinan Studio – two practices with whom we share a very similar culture and ethos. This collective approach paid off and we were jointly appointed to develop a new masterplan for the estate.

Underlying this whole project is the principle of shared values between the three architects and the client. It’s made for an inspiring and collaborative design process, which I truly believe has led us to a better result and a better future for the local community.

Barry McCullough, Director

Image drawn by Robbie Polley of Eastfields Estate, a collaboration between us and two other practices

The masterplan increases quantity and quality of homes on the site while providing needed amenity space

Before: The existing estate is a long perimeter building which snakes around a central green and isolates the development from the surrounding community

Unusually, it was identified very early on that the redevelopment of Eastfields was not financially viable in its own right. Clarion Housing Group took the view that all three estates needed to be treated as one project, and with the other two having so much more potential, they fund the development of Eastfields. However, it was also imperative that we maximised value as far as possible to prevent the viability of the overall regeneration of the three projects being put into jeopardy.

A number of existing homes had been purchased under Right to Buy legislation and were occupied by a mix of leaseholders and freeholders. From the outset, we carried out extensive consultation with tenants and home owners to explore their needs and to tailor the masterplan to accommodate these. This process has been ongoing, will continue as the scheme is taken forward, and has been run in parallel and informed by the evolution of ideas for the financial offer from Clarion Housing Group.

One of many meetings with community members, photo courtesy of CHMP

Senior Architect Chris Lomas describes amenity spaces with a resident, photo courtesy of CHMP

Built in the 1970s, the existing development features a perimeter building with homes around a large central green, creating two distinct zones: inside the estate and outside the estate. Not surprisingly, this Radburn layout, typical of town planning at that time, has cut the estate from its surroundings and created anti-social behaviour issues. Despite the quality of housing being quite low – many had been poorly converted and leaked heat and water – residents were very hesitant about redevelopment. Together with Clarion Housing Group, our challenge was to create support from the local community.

Heat and water leakage is commonplace in existing homes

The existing estate suffers from many anti-social issues due to its isolating design, photo courtesy of CHMP

Design

Our concept for the renewed Eastfields was to turn the existing site inside out. The central green has been retained, along with all of its mature trees, but the architectural monolith around it has been recreated as a series of buildings of varied scale, with a hierarchy of routes through to it. Homes now front onto this new green heart, enabling it to be better used and more secure.

By reinstating a more traditional street pattern, we will not only better integrate the neighbourhood within its context, but be able to significantly increase the density on the site. What currently accommodates 470 homes will instead create space for 671, an increase of 43%, all of a much better quality and with private amenity space.

Our design retains the original central green space but improves accessibility to it

An early sketch of the project, image by Proctor and Matthews

An early sketch of a residential lane, image by Cullinan Studio

As part of the process, we devised a masterplan with three distinct character areas for the neighbourhood. Firstly, a series of new lanes lead into the site. These small scale mews streets are suburban in scale and character, and provide the majority of the family homes. Building heights increase nearer the green, up to a maximum of eight storeys. Larger scale, more robust buildings are located to the northern edge to form a distinctive skyline with townhouses overlooking the adjacent cemetery.

Section cut through estate

Although still at the masterplanning stage, we looked closely at housing typologies and devised some innovative, flexible options, including a multigenerational home with an integrated granny annex. We made physical models of each of these, which became invaluable in establishing what residents liked and disliked.

With a strong financial offer and high quality design, the local community are now very supportive of our proposals, which we will take further with both Proctor and Matthews and Cullinan Studio.

Many layouts are offered to accommodate a variety of family needs, including a multigenerational home

Sectional perspective sketch of multigenerational home layout

Consultation events allow us to work directly with people who will actually occupy the homes, photo courtesy of CHMP

Core team

Barry McCullough

Director

Vinita Dhume

Senior Associate

Jacob Willson

Senior Urban Designer

Chris Lomas

Senior Architect

Dan Liston

Project Architect

Patricia Calvino

Architect / Urban Designer