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Proctor & Matthews wins green light for ‘only tower in Purley’

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Croydon Council has granted permission for two schemes by Proctor & Matthews Architects, including a 17-storey tower, to be built in Purley, south London

The first scheme, Mosaic Place, features a 17-storey tower and 114 homes, and will sit on a brownfield site between Russell Hill Road, Russell Hill Parade and Brighton Road.

The project, backed by Thornsett Group on behalf of Purley Baptist Church, includes red and brown brick buildings ranging in height from three to  seventeen storeys, including a church centre with community facilities, parking and a shop. The Purley Baptist Church’s existing 1908 building on the plot will be demolished once the new centre is completed.

According to the practice, the scheme’s tower will occupy the only site earmarked for a tall tower in the Purley district under the London Borough of Croydon’s local plan.

But the height has provoked criticism from some locals who claimed the tower – dubbed the ‘Purley skyscraper’ by campaigners – will be three times higher than any other building in the town.

The second approved scheme, a 106-home development known as South Site (1-9 Banstead Road), features blocks ranging in height from three to eight storeys. This project is being masterplanned by Proctor & Matthews, with detailed plans by Capital Architecture. 

The plans were granted permission at the committee – which six in favour and four against – despite concerns voiced by London mayor Sadiq Khan, who advised the council that the major development did not yet comply with the London Plan.

letter sent from the Greater London Authority on behalf of Khan recommended the affordable housing level should be increased from its current 18 per cent.

Khan also expressed concern over the massing of the 17-storey building, writing that the ‘tracery’ element on the top two floors should be removed to reduce this. He added that the building’s 13-storey ‘campanile’ element should be reduced in height in order to ‘step down’ to neighbouring developments. 

The scheme’s planning application received 630 comments, with many objecting to the scheme.  

Proctor & Matthews director Andrew Matthews said the design approach of the scheme was ‘’concerned about place, context and character’.

He added: ‘Social purpose is critical too, and at Purley we are demonstrating the role architecture can play in facilitating this.’

Elsewhere in the capital, Proctor & Matthews is masterplanning the major regeneration of South Thamesmead, where some 1,900 new homes will be built. 

View the planning application here

Project data

Location Purley, South London
Type of project Baptist Church/ Residential Mixed-use
Client Purley Baptist Church, Thornsett Group,
Architect Proctor and Matthews
Landscape architect Philip Cave Associates
Planning consultant Nexus Planning
Structural engineer Price & Myers
M&E consultant Peter Brett
Total cost Approximately £20.25 million 

Purley tower 1

Purley tower 1

Source: Proctor and Matthews Architects

Plans for Mosaic Place

Architects’ view

Proctor & Matthews Architects’ detailed design for a 11,354m² development addresses the larger of the two sites, known as Mosaic Place, and uses the public functions of the brief to establish a civic presence at the apex of the site, right at the heart of the town. A two-storey brick plinth with double-height openings expresses the social functions within, while a small square gives the building’s entrance the presence it deserves. On to this square a pavilion building, with meeting space and prayer room above completes the line of existing Edwardian buildings.

A slender 17-storey residential building augmented by a lower brick ‘campanile’ is placed at the apex of the site. This is pivotal in townscape terms as it can be seen from all around the surrounding area, and is the only tall building permitted by the Croydon local plan. The use of stone tracery frames expresses its domestic qualities and provides a scale transition from bottom to top. The building is crowned with a fringe of trees that are framed by an open structure against the sky.

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