Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Q&A: TfL's Stuart Robinson on architects, charrettes and plans to deliver 10,000 homes

Stuart robinson 2

Transport for London’s (TfL) strategic planning adviser, Stuart Robinson, talks about the transport authority’s huge development plans and collaborating with emerging practices

What are your main responsibilities at TfL?
The position requires me to help assess the planning risk on the development portfolio at TfL, to assist with the relationships we have with the stakeholders in the planning process and to provide some strategic direction to the major projects we undertake.

What is the property development team trying to achieve?
We’ve targets to start construction on 10 million sq ft of commercial and residential space with 10,000 homes by 2021, with half of those being affordable.

We want to improve the passenger experience for those using TfL’s services, for example by providing step-free access where possible, and create exciting new places and healthy streets.

We also want to generate long-term sustainable income to reinvest in transport – and do all of this while adhering to best practice in terms of sustainable growth.

How has TfL’s attitude to its land and how it can be developed changed over the past 10 years?
It has been pioneering a process whereby it has not only identified all the land it owns, but also identifies the land with development prospects (5,700 acres on 254 sites).

We’ve established a process whereby we can work with a group of 13 of the UK’s best developers to bring these sites forward to realise their full potential. Since August 2016 we have brought six property sites to market, which will deliver approximately 1,000 new homes, 50 per cent of which will be affordable. Over the next few years, that process will accelerate to a level of 3,000 homes or more.

Is TfL interested in new kinds of housing solutions to helping solve the crisis, such as modular homes and co-housing?
Given the level of the housing crisis, there is no way we can respond to the need without looking at innovative solutions and TfL is utilising government and mayoral funding which has been set aside for this purpose.

There is no way we can respond to the need without looking at innovative solutions

This ranges from off-site manufacture to different financial models for affordable housing.

How can architects help TfL achieve what it is setting out to deliver?
TfL’s property development team has just procured two panels of architects which reflect the top talent around the capital in terms of commercial, residential and mixed-use development.

Does TfL want to create a common design language for its above site developments – as it has for its Tube stations, for example?
In terms of our property development portfolio, there will not be a common approach. We aim to create great places as a central feature of our development schemes and this dictates that a sense of authenticity must prevail, requiring the architect to find the best solution to that particular site.

Will there be any opportunities for practices – particularly emerging talent – to get involved with TfL? Are there plans for more charrettes?
As mentioned, we have just completed the procurement process and as part of this, looked at the best emerging talent. In addition, we do encourage our architect teams to collaborate with smaller emerging practices where we think they have something special to offer.

In addition, following the success of the recent NLA charrette (where the results are currently on show as part of the Polycentric City exhibition), we would like to do more design exercises like this with the NLA’s New Gen group.

Would TfL be willing to hold open design competitions for any of its jobs?
We don’t currently have any plans to undertake any architectural competitions, as we have recently formed our architects’ panel by using a competitive process and the selection of our property partners (who will tend to use a top architectural practice to develop their own ideas) is also based on a competitive element.

There is also the role of the Mayor of London’s Good Growth by Design (GGbD) programme, through which 50 Mayoral Design Advocates (MDAs) have been selected. We are formulating a design protocol which will rely on a number of these MDAs to both inspire and moderate emerging solutions for all of our sites going forward. In addition, we are considering how the principles of GGbD can be embedded in our working lives.

Furthermore, we are conscious of the draft London Mayor’s Transport Strategy and its target of changing transport modal choice to rely more on public transport, cycling and walking. As most of our schemes are based around transport nodes, we are acutely conscious of our role in this, particularly the need to create healthy streets as part of our approach to placemaking.


Readers' comments (4)

  • "we do encourage our architect teams to collaborate with smaller emerging practices where we think they have something special to offer"...

    It could happen. It's been spoken about for years and hasn't happened yet though.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Why the very Short TfL architects lists?
    With so many homes to build the TfL procurement result of Lot 4 (housing) is that only 10 architects firms got onto the approved list from 204 applicants to build 10,000 homes across 254 sites on 5,700 acres?
    Why only 10? It could have been 30 or 40.
    and Lot 5 (commercial, health education etc..) 10 architects firms got onto this list from 185 applications.
    Why only 10 on this list with so much potential TfL work across London? Surely this work could be better spread across many more architects firms. Even to get onto these TfL panels can help practices get work in other Boroughs as many share lists. They need to be expanded.

    I think the approved lists should be transparent and published to showcase the range of practices selected, in particular the SME and small companies.

    I think TfL should hold several open design competitions for specific sites to bring out the best designs and open up opportunities for more architects to work with one of largest developer clients in London in the coming years.

    TfL ref: Lot 4 Architecture Design and Urbanism Panel 2 (ADUP 2)
    Lot 5 - Architecture, Commercial, Workspace, Health, Education and Civic Buildings

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Industry Professional

    Not only a short list of partners/architects but also not many ideas it seems.

    The only option for this publicly owned land is partnering with developers? The future of London housing needs a variety of models and the TfL land is a unique opportunity to really develop plans for large-scale co-operatives and Community Land Trusts.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • While the targets to be achieved are a welcome advance, if these are to be achieved sustainably and effectively then there is a clear need for more intelligent design commissioning to open up the market and its capacity to deliver. Frameworks are a blunt instrument awarded without reference to specific sites, and lock out talent from engagement and contributing to London for four years.
    Opening wider opportunity for more flexibility, imaginative and innovative solutions would appear necessary and a more inclusive step towards progress.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs

AJ Jobs