Taking a collaborative approach to transform a suburban neighbourhood.
Clarion Housing Group is progressing the regeneration of Eastfields Estate in Mitcham alongside two other neighbourhoods, High Path and Ravensbury. 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 & 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.
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 would 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 accordingly to accommodate these.
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.
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 central linear park, 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 800, an increase of 70%, all of a much better quality and with private amenity space.
We have devised a masterplan with five distinct character areas. A formal entrance green and series of new lanes lead into the neighbourhood off Acacia Road and Mulholland Close. The Lanes are like mews streets, intimate in scale and character. Building heights increase nearer the central linear park, up to a maximum of nine storeys. Larger scale, more robust buildings front onto the central green space and form a distinctive skyline. Towards the south of the masterplan, a series of housing courts and traditional mews streets feature a variety of house types and overlook the adjacent cemetery.
Community engagement has been integral to the design process and arriving at the final masterplan. We carried out a series of workshops and consultation events where we discussed house typologies using physical models, as well as the design of streets, public spaces and play opportunities. Throughout this process, we also engaged with surrounding stakeholders, such as St. Mark’s Academy, Hammond Avenue residents and Streatham Park Cemetery; their input has proved invaluable to the development of our proposals.
The local community are now very supportive of our proposals thanks to a strong financial offer and high quality design. After receiving outline planning consent, we are now working on the detailed planning applications for the first two phases, which we will take further with both Proctor & Matthews and Cullinan Studio.