PCKO Architects wins 33 planning applications to repair the Briar Road Estate

Permissions give consent to 102 new homes and detailed “small project” schemes that tackle the design issues affecting Outer London’s postwar Radburn plan housing estates.

PCKO Architects has won the last of 33 separate planning applications that will allow work to begin on their masterplan for the 25 hectare Briar Road Estate in the London Borough of Havering. The plans, drawn up for the London Borough of Havering and Notting Hill Housing Trust, will provide 102 new homes, of which 84 will be two-bedroom houses or larger, while retaining and improving the quality of the existing estate.

David de Sousa, Senior Associate at PCKO Architects said:

“The Briar Road estate is very typical of the low density, “Radburn plan” estates built all over Outer London in the postwar period. While the existing community is strong and there are great local assets, the estate also faces its share of problems that relate to its urban design.

“At the same time as creating new housing, our masterplan seeks to make a large number of strategically placed, small interventions that will improve the layout of the estate and the quality of spaces, creating a safer, more social environment that offers residents better access to existing facilities and adds much needed improvements such as a children’s playground.”

Originally built in the 1960s and 70s, the Briar Road Estate is home to an existing community of 4000 residents in 1,200 households. The estate has a range of existing amenities, including established schools, a community centre, and shops including an award-winning baker and an Information Shop staffed by local volunteers.

PCKO’s masterplan proposals will retain the vast majority of the estate, and provide a framework for Notting Hill Housing Trust and Havering Council to begin working to improve the estate. Existing homes will be modernised and there will be a strong focus on improving the quality of existing green spaces and public realm, with the addition of new landscaping, play areas and replacement of pavements, kerbs and street lighting. Problem areas such as narrow, underused pedestrian paths will be rerouted and car parking areas reconsidered to improve natural surveillance. A new play and recreation area will be built on Bosworth Field at the north of the estate.

PCKO’s new homes will be built to respect the scale of the existing 2 storey estate, rising to three storeys to give emphasis at key focal points. The new housing is oriented to overlook existing pathways, improving security for pedestrians and will be built in brick in a nod to the existing estate. The homes will incorporate modern elements such as oriel window bays and will be fully adaptable to meet lifetime homes standards, with generous floor-to-ceiling heights and large windows.

During the planning consultation, 12 public meetings and 2 exhibitions were held to involve local residents in the regeneration of their estate.

Revisiting Radburn

Like many of the Radburn plan estates built in the 1950s and 60s, the layout of the Briar Road estate has resulted in poor connections through the site with limited pedestrian access in places, and neglected, infrequently used walkways in others. The green spaces and car parking that break up the blocks of housing suffer from a lack of natural surveillance and are often poorly maintained, and there has been a decline in the public realm and an increase in antisocial behaviour in some areas.

The existing housing is built facing onto poorly overlooked green space, rather than the streets, which were built in cul-de-sacs and intended as service routes. The emphasis of modern living patterns on car use means that what was designed as the back of these homes has since become the front, resulting in houses with a lack of privacy and security, with both sides of the house vulnerable to unwanted access. Throughout the estate there is a general lack of recreational and play facilities.

PCKO’s interventions at the Briar Road Estate tackle the roots of the problem by addressing the masterplan, offering a scalable suite of affordable solutions to improve the quality of the environment with the residents in occupation.