140 -150 Earlham Grove - regeneration plans

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Six months after proposals for redeveloping 39a - 49a Woodgrange Road (see here for details) comes plans for an ambitious development on Earlham Grove (between the footprint for the other development referred to, above and the boundary of the Community Garden).

A combination of these plans, of course, put the final nail in the coffin of the former Obsidian proposals for the area, although, as will be seen, below, there is an interesting carry through of involvement.

The developments, combined, provide more evidence, if ever needed, of the massive regeneration and house price hike for Forest Gate, in advance of the coming of CrossRail to town, in 2019 (see here, for details).

This proposal comes from a consortium of Mura Estates (www.mura-estates.co.uk) and the Aitch Group (www. http://www.aitchgroup.com) - which are very similar companies, sharing a Shoreditch head office, having almost identical websites and sharing involvement in a number of projects.

The associated architects are Buckley, Gray, Yeoman Architects. They are a large firm of architects, with commissions across London, Britain, Europe and beyond.

Like the builder/developers, they are based in Shoreditch.  Intriguingly they were associated with the now abandoned and much derided Obsidian proposals for Forest Gate of 4 years ago.  They haven't taken this down from their website (www.buckleygrayyeoman.com/project/forest-gate), so perhaps they still hope it is alive, or will be using aspects of it for the Earlham Grove plan.

The consortium have had boards up, advertising their presence for some time.

The footprint runs behind the shops on Woodgrange Road and surfaces at the gates next to Percy Ingle's on Woodgrange Road (see diagram on leaflet).

This strip of land seems very thin and is probably no more than an access route proposal.

The consortium is holding a consultation evening on 23 November, at Durning Hall - see copy of leaflet, for details.

We have written to the developers offering them space on this page to lay out their proposals.  We have yet to hear from them, but will treat what they say with respect - and without editorial judgement, as we feel that this is the best way of conducting a dialogue about an important project for our locality.

Whether they respond or not, we will update this post after 23 November with more detailed about their proposals and projected timetable, following the consultation session, as we did earlier this year with the Woodgrange Road project. That post has attracted about 1600 page views and provoked about 30 comments.

Their leaflet, advertising the consultation session is high on rhetoric and low on detail.  It says:

We will take this opportunity to present our emerging proposals for the redevelopment of the site.  The site is currently vacant and hoarded and detracts from the local environment.
 Our proposals are for high quality residential redevelopment comprising the delivery of new homes to the area and delivering on the Council's regeneration ambitions.
The event is for local residents, businesses and stakeholders to discuss the proposals with the project team and provide any views and comments.
We have had a quick survey of the websites of the three partners associate with the Earlham Grove project: Mura, Aitch and the architects. As noted above, Mura and Aitch overlap hugely in their profile, and in their projects too.

They have been in business since 1995 and deal mainly in residential and commercial developments in London and the South East.

Among the residential developments they have promoted in the East London area have been a 36 apartment block in Bow Road, just completed, with all but two flats sold (these are on the market at £500k each).

They are involved with 2 developments on Fish Island (45 residential units on Monier Road, due for completion in 2018) and 100 units on Dace Road. The architects of these were also Buckley et al.

The architects, established in 1997, have a very large portfolio.  They seem to be the "house" architects for Fred Perry and include their store in Westfield in their portfolio.  They also undertake a number of projects for Nandos.

Their other East London projects include Forest School, in Walthamstow, the Q Building in central Stratford and a development in Pier Road in North Woolwich.

We will add further details about the Earlham Grove proposals, here,  as they become available.

Meanwhile, feel free to add comments below, in order to keep a healthy debate and source of information about this project live, until it is delivered, or aborted.

Update - 25 November 2016

We visited the consultation evening on Wednesday (23rd), and here's what we learned:

  • The developers plan around 80 flats (1,2 and 3 bed), organised into 3 pods on their plot of land. Some of these will be for "social rent". The affordable/unaffordable mix is down to negotiations with the planners.
  • Meetings with the planners are going well, as a result the developers are likely to scale the heights of their blocks of flats back from their originally hoped for 7 stories to five or six. Presumably the seven storey option was their opening bid, that they knew would get negotiated down.
  • Because the development is behind the main (Woodgrange) Road, it is less visible to passers by, and consequently less controversial; so less interest has been expressed and fewer problems are likely to be encountered.
  • The proposed development is essentially on a brownfield site, which has already been cleared, so the lead-in time until development will be considerably shorter than that on the Woodgrange Road site, as existing tenants will not need to be accommodated and buildings demolished - should both proposals get the go ahead.
  • This means, should both sets of plans get the go-ahead, given the advanced nature of the Woodgrange Road proposals (already submitted to the council), it is possible that building on both sites could be taking place simultaneously.  This could cause congestion problems on Woodgrange Road.  The "communicator" told us that early talks had taken place between the two potential developers to consider how they could minimise this.
  • The thin corridor, shown on the first illustration, above, of the development will essentially be an access route for the rail tunnel that sits behind Percy Ingle's, on the site of the old Upper Cut club.
  • There is another strip of land, currently held by Aston Mansfield that lies between this proposed development and the Community Garden.  There are no firm proposals for this yet, but there have been preliminary discussions between these developers and senior people at Durning Hall about its longer term fate.
  • If the developers for this proposals and those for the Woodgrange Road site get their way, we will see 140 new flats - up to 6 stories in height within a couple of hundred metres of the station built - ready for the opening of CrossRail in 2019.  Watch this space, and prepare to draw your breath as prices are announced!
The developers have sent us copies of the exhibition boards they used in Durning Hall.  We are reproducing them below.

The typeface is not always clear, so we are adding the copy of each, under the image, to give viewers a clearer idea of what the developers are proposing.

We encourage anyone with views about this development to engage in a discussion about it in the comments section below this post.

Board 1 

Public consultation, vacant land at 140 - 150 Earlham Grove, Forest Gate E7 9AB.

Welcome to the public consultation exhibition for 149 - 159 Earlham Grove.

We would like to use this exhibition to introduce the project team, the site itself and some of our initial ideas for its regeneration.

The site is brownfield/previously developed land and has remained vacant for almost 10 years, detracting from the environment and not making any contribution to the local area. The site is identified by the council for residential development and represents an excellent opportunity to enhance and regenerate the site while providing much needed housing for the area.

Board 2

The developer: Aitch Group and Mura Estates

The developer is a privately owned mixed use developer, based in Shoreditch.

The company was founded in 1995 and has for the last two decades focused on delivering regeneration projects in the fringe areas of London, predominantly in East London.

Our delivered schemes vary greatly from the refurbishment of an art gallery in Dalston, to the conversion of a factory in Hackney into 85 flats and workshop space.

The one element all our schemes have in common is that they seek to bring an improved vibrancy to the area both through high quality design and new uses.

The architects: Buckley, Gray, Yeoman

Buckley Gray Yeoman is an architectural practice formed in 1997, and is based in Shoreditch, which has accumulated a wide body of work over many areas, including residential, commercial, hotel & education, with a particular focus on East London. We aim to provide imaginative responses to the complex needs of today’s society. We are passionate about design and creativity. Good design brings a better quality of life, as well as bringing commercial advantage to our client’s business. Buckley Gray Yeoman and Aitch Group have a working partnership dating back over 15 years. During that time, we have undertaken a range of projects together, from smaller scale residential developments of 10 units right up to large urban regeneration schemes. We are currently working together on a number of mixed use, residential - led development, in a range of locations including Hackney, Fish Island and Deptford.

Board 3

Top half: Surrounding area

Bottom half: Outline of development area

The brown double headed arrow represents the proposed internal street/right of way. The green shapes, green spaces, the brown triangles Earlham Grove and the grey ovals, massing (i.e. the blocks of flats)

Board 4

The proposals. Key:
1 = site entrance,
2 = internal streets
3 (a-c) = residential blocks - 5 - 7 stories. 80 units (1, 2 and 3 beds)
4 = landscaped courtyards 
5 = residential allotments
6 = accessible car parking spaces

Board 5

Top half: 3D sketch precedent images (no, nor do we!)

Architecture: traditional brick elevations; balconies; tall windows; 5, 6 and 7 stories; 80 units, high quality, well built residential accommodation.

Bottom half: landscaping

Green courtyards; Birch forest; residential allotments; hedges and ornamental grasses; mature trees and shrubs; front gardens.

Board 6

Programme/further information.

If you require further information or would like to discuss the proposals further, please contact:

Write to us at: Freepost, MPC Consultation

Email: info@meetingplacecommunications.com

Telephone: 0800 148 8911

Update 20 March 2017

According to Apartology, a residential development news website, Aitch Group, the Earlham Grove project leaders submitted plans to build 78 flats on the site, to Newham Council in mid March - and so are on target with their timeline (see below).

The flats will be located in a series of buildings of upto six storeys high, and the proposal is that they should all be private. Presumably this could be up for planning negotiation.

20 of the flats, in the application are due to be one-bedroomed, 27 two-bedroomed and 31 three-bedroomed.

Buckley Gray Yeoman are behind the designs, which featute a two-tone beige/cream and off-white brick design.

The photos in this subsection of this post are taken from the Apartology website.

Original timeline

Summer 2016 - design commences
Winter 2016 - public consultation and design developments
Early 2017 - planning application
Summer 2017 - planning application determination
Early 2018 - construction commences
Summer 2019 - construction completed.

Update: Planning application submitted - March 2017

As a result of the consultation undertaken and having listened to local residents, Aitch have now submitted a planning application. As part of the consultation, Aitch has worked with officers at Newham Council to ensure high quality design aspirations are obtained.

The application (reference number 17/00467/FUL) can be viewed here 

It is a brownfield site that has been vacant for over eight years.  The application will include:

  • 78 residential units with a mix of tenures, with 10 one bedroom, 27 two bedroom and 31 three bedroom units.
  • 136 cycle parking spaces to ensure occupants and businesses are encouraged to minimise car use.
  • Eight disabled parking bays.
  • Car club membership for all new residents and restriction on CPZ permits.
  • Public realm and highways improvements.
  • Energy and sustainable construction to ensure high quality design aspirations are obtained.

If you wish to comment on this application, all representations must include the planning application reference number (17/00467/FUL) and the site address (140-150 Earlham Grove), as well as your name and address. Anonymous comments will not be considered.

Representations must be submitted online via the link provided above or by email to planning.submissions@newham.gov.uk

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