Peter Barber Architects’ proposals to carve a new public mews out of a dilapidated publicly owned plot in Finchley have won planning approval
Barnet Council’s planning committee voted on Monday (4 March) in favour of the practice’s designs for 97 homes, with 50 per cent affordable, on a curved site which runs parallel to the North Circular Road in Finchley.
The 0.58ha plot, owned by Transport for London, has stood empty, unused and boarded up for two decades until it was brought forward for development as part of the Mayor of London’s Small Sites, Small Builders programme.
Peter Barber Architects’ Beechwood Mews proposal is for a pedestrianised public mews running east-west along the length of the site, connecting Beechwood Avenue to Edge Hill Avenue, with two terraces of buildings on either side of the street.
The homes will include red-brick maisonettes, courtyard houses and apartments with the majority of homes having private front doors on to the mews.
The scheme for developer Kuropatwa, which also includes a coffee shop and a corner shop, draws on the practice’s ‘street-based’ approach to housing seen in projects such as Moray Mews in Finsbury Park, and Colony Mews in Islington.
Peter Barber Architects director and project lead Phil Hamilton told the AJ that despite the challenges posed by the proximity of the major road next to the site, the final scheme was some of the practice’s best work.
APPROVED: Peter Barber Architects’ designs for Beechwood Avenue mews in Barnet
‘Among the affordable units there is a good mix [of tenures], which will be pepper-potted around the development,’ he said. ‘Almost everyone has their own front door which we believe will mean people are more likely to engage with their neighbours.’
The process of working on the Mayor’s Small Sites programme had been ‘incredibly quick’, he said, adding that the inclusion of a contractual commitment to 50 per cent affordable had simplified the procurement process.
‘We submitted the plans in just four months. I think it’s a success story; its happened very quickly and, as the 50 per cent affordable was in the contract, it gave the developers absolute clarity of exactly what they were bidding for.’
Peter Barber Architects was involved in the project from March 2018, developing the design with Kuropatwa for the bid submission. It was formally appointed by the developer in June once the bid had been awarded.
Transport for London released 10 small sites in February under the Mayor’s Small Sites, Small Builders pilot. Beechwood Mews is the first of these to receive planning permission.
The plots, located across seven different boroughs, were made available to small and medium-sized builders with two of the sites reserved for community-led housing groups. These sites in Lambeth and Tower Hamlets were won by London Community Land Trust (CLT).
According to the mayor’s office, there was significant interest in the programme, with TfL receiving 134 bids from developers, community-led housing organisations, registered providers and architect-developers.
Deputy mayor for housing James Murray said: ‘It’s great to see Beechwood Avenue get the green light, helping to deliver a range of much-needed genuinely affordable homes in Barnet.
‘The fantastic response to the Mayor’s Small Sites, Small Builders programme has shown that using these plots of public land is an effective way to get new genuinely affordable homes built, and to reinvigorate our small and medium-sized homebuilders after years of over-reliance on large developers.’