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CABE pans latest Cricklewood plans

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The latest architects involved in the long-running saga surrounding the redevelopment of the former Parcelforce depot in Cricklewood have admitted further delays are likely following criticisms from Design Council CABE

Architects Stanford Eatwell and Associates have taken on the Dominion Housing scheme in north-west London to create 262 residential homes in five and six-storey blocks, office space, and create new transport access from Edgware Road.

The plans have been scaled down from an original Carey Jones Architects-led application for developer Keystone in 2008 which featured 394 homes in 14-storey blocks (pictured). Carey Jones had worked on an even larger scheme before that for nearly 500 homes, however that was rejected by Barnet Council in August 2007.

Design Council CABE has slammed the proposals, claiming the design of the development is ‘oppressive and uninspiring’ and criticised the ‘fortress-like quality’ of the design, adding that communal residential entrances in two of the blocks could be ‘dark and gloomy spaces’, while a third block would suffer from overheating in the morning due to fully glazed corridors.

Architect Andrew Tweedie said the firm is now adjusting its plans.

He said: ‘We are aware of the CABE report and are currently amending elements of the scheme in light of their comments.

‘The daylight within the apartments and the courtyards has been assessed against BRE guidelines, and that the nearest buildings on the opposite side of the railway tracks are some 200m away.’

Alan Johnson, A2Dominion’s executive director, said: ‘We are aware of a recent report from CABE regarding the scheme and this is something that we are currently looking at. At this stage, we do not have a date for when the planning application for the site will be heard by the London Borough of Barnet.’

Design Council CABE’s comments in full

Planning reference:: F/01932/11

We appreciate the challenging nature of this site which is bounded by a mainline railway and Edgware Road, a primary vehicle route into central London.  However we have a number of concerns relating to the layout and design of the development, the quality of the residential accommodation, the visibility and viability of the commercial uses, and access to the refuse holding area. In light of our comments below we do not support the planning application. 

Layout and design

The scheme layout responds to the noise impacts of the railway line and Edgware Road by creating a buffer between the central amenity spaces and these noisy transport corridors. However, we find this creates a development with a fortress like quality that appears very dense in form.  We think the quality and function of the courtyard spaces of blocks A and B will be limited given their size and orientation; in particular the communal residential entrances in the corners of these blocks could be dark and gloomy spaces.

We also find the design of the development to be oppressive and uninspiring; especially the rear elevation of block C, which will be prominent from the opposite side of the railway tracks.  We suggest further thought be given to how the design could be revised to create more life and animation within the elevations.

Quality of residential accommodation

We encourage the design team to give further thought to the internal quality of the residential accommodation proposed. For example, there are a significant number of apartments with only one aspect; of particular concern are the apartments fronting solely onto the railway lines in block C.  In addition, the apartments adjacent to the residential access cores in the corners of blocks A and B are arranged very tightly which could result in internal spaces that receive little daylight and sunlight, in particular the long narrow apartments in block A.  The awkward triangular shaped apartments in blocks A and B create some impractical looking rooms and we question how this will allow for ease of living, for example will it be possible to easily accommodate furniture in these rooms.  Furthermore, the long narrow entrance corridors within blocks A and B appear uninviting and the fully glazed corridors in the rear elevation of block C are likely to overheat in the morning resulting in an uncomfortable environment. 

Commercial uses

We think the crèche and gym uses could be viable in this location providing facilities for existing and future residents; however we question the viability of B1 office use in the development. We also find that the commercial units at ground floor level require more definition to increase their visibility from views along Edgware Road and to distinguish between the commercial frontage and the residential above.

Refuse & recycling

We question the location of the refuse holding area adjacent to the entrance to the under croft car park. Given the number of refuse containers required to service this development a refuse truck is likely to block the entrance / exit to the parking area for a signification period of time while the bins are emptied.  Advice should be sought from the local authority’s waste management team to ascertain whether this arrangement meets the required standards. Thought should be given to how the refuse could be collected without blocking the car park access, perhaps by using an entrance separate from the car park. The current arrangement is also likely to have a detrimental impact on the occupants of the apartments directly above the car park entrance who will be disturbed by the noise of the refuse collection, in addition to noise from vehicles entering and exiting the car park.

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