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Exclusive: Croydon plans to ramp up infill housing with 374 homes over 24 sites


Brick By Brick, Croydon Council’s arm’s length housing development vehicle, has released details of the second wave of its Small Sites Programme of housing on infill sites across the borough

Croydon Council’s housing development company, Brick By Brick, has submitted plans for 374 homes on 24 infill sites across the south London borough.

Designed by a mix of ‘up-and-coming and established’ practices, the schemes are the first to be lodged as part of the five-year-old company’s latest small sites development programme.

Among the architects working on this second series of ‘challenging sites’ are Hayhurst & Co, Gort Scott, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, Mary Duggan Architects, Archio, Denizen Works, RUFFarchitects, and Threefold Architects.

Proposals have also been drawn up by Pitman Tozer, Stitch Architects and Mae, who all worked on the arm’s length housing delivery company’s first wave of small sites, many of which are now completing

Common Ground Architecture, Brick By Brick’s own in-house architecture practice, is also designing 181 of the proposed new units.

A further half-dozen schemes, comprising 310 homes, will be submitted in the coming weeks, bringing the total number in this second wave of development to 684. Much of the housing will be built in the south-eastern corner of the borough around New Addington.

Chloë Phelps, head of design and commercial and deputy chief executive of Brick By Brick, said its briefs to the architects on the second programme had become more defined, compared with those of the earlier phases.

Cga bramley hill 3

Bramley Hill, Waddon by Common Ground Architecture

Bramley Hill, Waddon by Common Ground Architecture Credit: Pillar Visuals

She said: ‘While design is incredibly important to us, it also needs to be buildable, robust and financially savvy. If we hit an issue with any of these requirements, the programme gets affected [ see full comment below].’

For example, the developer said it had encountered ‘technical challenges’ with Coffey Architects’ Eagle Road scheme and vPPR’s Drovers Road proposal, which delayed both developments. At Eagle Road the scheme had to be moved 1.5m from the boundary wall and the entrances to the flats reworked to accommodate a relocated substation position.

A spokesperson for Brick By Brick explained: ‘On our newer schemes it is now part of our brief to stay away from boundaries with multiple owners as much as possible. We have also invested in more thorough site investigations at an earlier stage in the process.’

The homes in this latest phase include a mix of private sale, shared ownership and social rent. Brick By Brick has pledged that across the programme, about half the homes delivered will be designated ‘affordable’ (shared ownership and affordable rent).

Brick By Brick has pledged that across the programme about half the homes delivered will be ‘affordable’

Under the arm’s length development model, profit from the sale of the private homes is returned to the council, to be reinvested in the borough, though not specifically for housing.

The developer has also committed to the 10 One Planet Living principles, which include using sustainable materials in construction, creating zero waste to landfill, achieving net zero carbon emissions from heating and energy use, and encouraging sustainable forms of transport.

The homes in the second small sites programme are due to complete by early 2023.


3090446 chloephelps

Chloë Phelps, head of design and commercial and deputy chief executive of Brick By Brick and Common Ground Architecture 

The latest Brick By Brick programme builds on our first Croydon Smaller Sites programme, which started in 2016. Schemes from this initial programme are now coming to fruition and our first residents have already moved into their new homes.

We’ve moved incredibly fast from a standing start four years ago. As a small team, we’ve had to be nimble and continually learn and adapt to changing circumstances. The current situation with Covid-19 is no different. 

The first schemes have worked very well and several elements remain core to our ongoing brief.

We remain ambitious in terms of addressing the housing crisis and our commitment to design quality, proving you can make a lot from what seems to be not very much.

We aim to create variety and character in our schemes, responding to each of these places in Croydon, which is made possible by the fantastic group of architects. 

Common Ground Architecture, our in-house team, continues to lead with its collegiate approach to developing these tricky sites.

Since the first wave, our brief to architects has become more defined. While design is incredibly important to us, it also needs to be buildable, robust and financially savvy. If we hit an issue with any of these requirements, the programme gets affected. 

We have tried to maintain a focus on quality brickwork

We’ve had around 20 schemes on site so far, so we are very familiar with sticking points that can arise with infill sites through each of the construction stages. In this latest phase we have tried to maintain a focus on quality brickwork, with detail emphasised in the areas that count.

We can get better-quality red and brown bricks for our budget, so we’ve tried to steer architects towards those tones where it’s appropriate. We’ve also got some basic guidelines in place to avoid lengthy boundary discussions with neighbours. And we avoid complicated forms and unnecessary steelwork in our buildings.

We’re also working towards targeting net zero carbon with our next programme of sites.The conversation is already starting to shift again. 


Readers' comments (3)

  • According to local sources;

    "Brick by Brick is the council-owned, loss-making housebuilder who, despite borrowing £260million-plus from Croydon Council, has managed to deliver just three purpose-built council homes in five years."

    Croydon Insider April 21st

    Whilst the aspiration behind these plans may be laudable Croydon council which is in significant debt needs to be concentrating on resolving the mess of the hollowed out centre of Croydon rather then peppering the outer fringes of its domain.

    The Whitgift scheme is effectively dead in the water thanks to the death of the high street and Covid 19.

    The council executive needs to decide what Croydon will become as place first.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Whatever Croydon will become, both the leadership of the council and Brick by Brick should feel embarrassed about the fact that while the borough's council-tax payers are quintessentially diverse, authorship of its built environment from hundreds of millions of pounds of everyone's' public funds is disbursed in appointments to people from a narrow set of backgrounds. This is effectively a regressive redistribution of wealth. London as a whole is 43.7% (self-selecting) BAME. There are 13 schools of architecture and spatial design within the M25 alone with at least some diverse intake. Perhaps Croydon/Brick-by-Brick should refer to the GLA's 'Supporting Diversity in the Built Environment' Handbook, (which they contributed to, emptily), and reflect on their own perceptions of what their architect and consultants look like? Hackney, Lambeth, Southwark, Islington, RBKC, Barking & Dagenham etc., this also means you.

    It is not surprising though; yesterday was Stephen Lawrence Day, and this organ, didn't think it was notable enough to mention/or reflect on it in any meaningful way (if at all).

    It is salutary to note that had Stephen Lawrence survived his ordeal, qualified as an architect, gained housing experience and set up in practice, he would statistically not have been appointed by Croydon (to design as much as a park bench) at anytime in the last 20 years (since freedom of information requests were available - and probably longer). Even sadder is that there is no attempt /plan to address or explain this for BAME communities, their freinds and supporters who are not minorities or their kids who aspire to be architects. Instead there are the usual warm 'woke' words about inclusion while the bottom line stays resolutely the same for years at a time.

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  • #WhodesignsLondon?

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