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Mixed Use, Streatham: Optimising the Site

You should still look to maximise a site’s potential, even if it has recent planning permission for a development similar to yours.

This project shows how we’ve helped our clients optimise the London site they want to develop.

Currently, it’s a live application that we've prepared carefully and forensically, working closely with the client.

The Brief and the Challenge

The site is in a prominent location within Streatham town centre. Currently, it’s a mixed-use, two-storey building.

The client bought the site with planning permission to redevelop it as five storeys.

However, the local authority granted this permission only recently, within a year. We needed to consider whether there was a realistic opportunity to optimise and enhance the site’s potential so soon after this.

Planning officers, the planning committee, the local authority and residents might assume we could achieve the best results under the existing planning permission.

The challenge, therefore, would be to convince them that we could make the design bigger and better but keep it appropriate to the area and its needs.

This was the essence of the brief: to get more out of the site and gain approval for it, enabling the client to deliver something high-quality and distinctive.

Managing Expectations

For us, a vital aspect of this project was managing expectations of the developer and the council.

Obviously, the client wants to get the most out of their proposed development, but the council has only recently granted permission for something it deemed acceptable.

It comes down to making the strongest possible case that will satisfy these different expectations.

First, we needed to get a complete picture of the site, its potential and any possible pitfalls to progress or development limitations.

Working with an architect the client was already familiar with, we went to the council’s planning department to establish basic principles. The site is in a conservation area, so we advised the client to engage a heritage and townscape consultant.

Our Answer

First and foremost, we recognised the site is in the town centre and has excellent access to public transport. It is an appropriate location for higher density development.

We knew from the outset that design quality and the townscape would be critical to the application's progress.

We also considered the context and sustainability of the design – the immediate conservation area was 1930s, with several art deco features.

The original two-storey building hadn't reflected this, and neither did the approved scheme. This gave us ideas on what to add to the scheme to better fit in with the existing conservation area.

Along with site-specific details, we consulted closely with the council and took on board feedback from both a senior planning officer and a conservation officer.

We fed this information back into the design, further developing it.

In this regard, positive engagement with the council was extremely beneficial in moving the project forward.

We asked questions and made it clear we were open to ideas and opinions.

Maximising Benefits

Effectively, we’ve wrapped the project in a benefits package for its planning application.

This package includes sustainability, such as solar panels on the roof, air-source heat pumps and other energy efficiency measures. We’ve also included lots of green spaces as part of the development within this urban environment.

As a mixed-use scheme, we're offering more homes in the area. The optimised design adds quality and space as well as increasing the number of flats in the building.

As part of the pre-application process, we've had two rounds of discussions with Lambeth local authority and we've held a public exhibition. Here, we invited 200 local residents alongside ward councillors and local business owners.

The response has been positive.

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