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Southwark Council urged to rethink ‘monolithic’ office design

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Architects and design professionals are calling on Southwark Council to ‘go back to the drawing board’ with its plans to develop an office block in Peckham

The group has slammed designs by Hampshire-based Denning Male Polisano as ‘intrusive’, ‘monolithic’ and ‘old-fashioned’ in a bid to halt the council-backed project in south London.

The council says the new 4,180m² three-storey block, on the site of the single-storey former Queen’s Road Day Centre, is needed to bring together its homeless and child care services.

But Guy Norton, an associate at Arcadis, said: ’Driven by greed and with a complete disregard for the principles of good architecture and design, the proposed scheme devours the site’s footprint, will be unnecessarily high due to its modular construction, and clad in cheap materials.’

He added: ’We are presented with a building that tends towards the lowest possible requirements of architectural process and a shoddy planning and consultation process to boot: rudimentary analysis of the townscape, misinterpretation of the character of the area, a botched overshadowing report, and no thought given to the impact on parking or the already heavily-crowded Queens Road Peckham station.’

The Peckham Society has submitted a formal objection against the proposed 14m-high office block, which is designed to accommodate between 390 and 600 workers plus about 1,000 visitors a week.

Queens road 4 denning polisano

Queens road 4 denning polisano

The project is currently at the consultation stage, but planning permission could be granted as early as July, meaning work would get under way in September.

Fellow Peckham-based architects John O’Shea, Richa Mukhia of M.OS Architects and Benedict O’Looney also believe that the office block will be ‘overbearing’ and ‘out-of-keeping’ with its surroundings.

O’Shea said: ‘We are not trying to stop the development outright. In an ideal world we would like to see it reviewed by a panel of architects to best use the space available. We are all hoping that the project is sent back to the drawing board.’

After consulting by letter with 1,625 residents within a 250m radius of the site, Southwark Council has already made a number of alterations to the proposal, including reducing the height of storeys, reducing overshadowing and reducing the impact of overlooking into residents’ gardens and windows.

Councillor Fiona Colley, Southwark Council cabinet member for finance, modernisation and performance, said: ‘Our homelessness service and services for vulnerable children are currently located in six different buildings across the borough, many of which are old and dated. We know some local residents have some concerns regarding the new building overlooking their gardens and we have taken their views into account, revising the scheme to reduce the impact. We are listening to residents and continuing to work on the design.’

Marco Polisano from Denning Male Polisano said that the firm was unable to comment on the design proposal as it is still ‘under discussion with the council’.

Collage queen road 4

Collage queen road 4

Before (left) and after (right): how the Queens Road scheme has been revised following consultations.

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