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Croydon’s in-house architects launched as commercial practice

Common ground croydon chloe phelps (4)
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Croydon Council has announced its intention to use its in-house architects to offer residential design services to other local authorities

The council’s two-year-old architectural team, based within its arms-length development company Brick by Brick, will be launched as a commercial practice under the new name Common Ground Architecture.

Chloë Phelps (pictured), who runs the unit as its head of design, told the AJ that it was ready to provide help to other councils and public sector bodies design housing on small, awkward, urban sites.

‘Designing a high-quality and viable development is tough on these sites,’ she said, ‘but we have demonstrated it is genuinely possible to make these work no matter the size or shape.

‘We are keen to work on all projects, however big or small, and we have experience in a range of sectors, not just homes.

‘We want to work with other councils, developers and designers as we feel there is a benefit in cross-pollination of ideas and addressing the skill imbalance between public and private sectors.’

She said the team would also offer design adviser or critical friend services to external clients.

The unit, via Brick by Brick, purchases and uses the services of architects who are directly employed by the council.

Any profits generated by the practice will be returned to Croydon Council as its sole shareholder, to be reinvested in the borough.

The team’s first scheme saw it design 14 new homes on Station Road in the South Norwood Conservation Area, with work on site set to start early next year.

Station road

Station road

Station Road by Common Ground Architecture

Phelps said the practice was currently designing three other schemes of between nine and 12 units within the borough.

Brick by Brick is one of a wave of standalone housing development companies being created by councils under powers introduced under the 2011 Localism Act.

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