Brockley Cross development plans revealed


Detailed plans for the mixed use development at the corner of Geoffrey Road and Brockley Cross have been revealed.

The architecture is poor - looking regrettably close to the designs churned out by Gary Cole in The Brady Bunch Movie. It features the usual pointless balconies and is not in keeping with the local architecture. We dislike the roof line and the proportions look mean - they have attempted to squeeze in too much, squashing the building right up against the pavement.

On the other hand, we quite like the way it steps up as it moves away from the neighbouring house. The commercial floor space is small, but perhaps all that's required at this location. Timber and aluminium is not a bad mix of materials.

We hope they get sent back to the drawing board in terms of design, tell them to drop the fiddly bits and create something more minimalist with more generous rooms. Above all, it would be nice to see something happen on this site soon after years of procrastination.

52 comments:

Good grief said...

Awful just awful

TM said...

Oh dear.

I'm glad I am not paying the Architect's fee.

Part of the Design and Access statement refers to another development, unless Lordship Lane has moved from East Dulwich, and as for the grammar and spelling it's worse that Catman's!

I will let others pass judgement on the design.

Brockley Nick said...

Oh no, go on TM. Pass judgement please.

And yes, the Lordship Lane slip is hilarious. Cut and paste?

Andy Endwell said...

Thank you Norman Foster

Brockley Nick said...

@Andy - do you mean me?

What do you think of the designs?

Anonymous said...

I quite like the plans.

Anonymous said...

Are thoe people giants.

drakefell debaser said...

I have seen people draw better with their feet.

As you say Nick, too much going on there for the space available.

Tim said...

Whatever you may think of the architecture, it us surely far more preferable to the grotty garage that is currently there. Net net, it improves the area.

david.s said...

Bah, humbug. Changed my optimist vote to pessimist after looking at the plans. I mean they're not completely crap (DD, i would love to see someone draw better with their feet), but they suffer from what every new development seems to have... the greed of cramming as many tiny flats into one space as possible. On the other hand, it's quite nice that they're a bit open-plannish, I suppose. I like the lonely character sitting at his sad little kitchen table in unit 3. Probably tucking into a nice piece of fried chicken from one of his many local outlets.

Brockley is such a great area, why are people being so cheapskate about what they're building in it?

Anonymous said...

Plans? New ideas? Things that don't involve twee cafes?

NOT IN MY BACK YARD.

Andy Endwell said...

Sorry Nick was being a bit cryptic - they are sadly another version of the somewhat unimaginative Bridge House/Tea factory developments and as I look at the Shard every day as I pass, it’s rather depressing to see this kind of paucity of thinking.

urbansurgery said...

I've seen plenty worse.

To be clear, it isn't always greed that determines the density of dwelling, but local and city statute. Ken was all about as many homes as possible per plot no matter how cramped. For better or for worse Boris has scrapped density targets and reintroduced space standards. Likely this scheme is squeaking under the wire before these come into force proper.

Don't hold out any hope for schemes to be thrown out on design grounds. Whenever they are the rejection is ripe for appeal. Good design, while I champion it, is not a prerequisite to a successful application. Compliance with targets and directives is, and checkboxes for objective design analysis dont exist so unless councillors are clever in their rejection summaries simple 'don't like it' or 'not in keeping' rejections will almost always be granted on appeal (usual caveats apply regarding CAs and such).

Even on larger schemes where CABE come into play and can act as the bureaucratic object design arbiter this is still only guidance to the LA. A damning CABE report doesn't restrict a LA to reject.

Even with the sorry state of affairs i've stated, recent awards by Lewisham in the area seem to suggest that even more than some, LBC have a particularly insensitive eye.

So if this meets London Plan and LA Development Guidelines then this will most likely pass as-is.

Now that we're all depressed, I remind myself that it is still preferable to a system where the whims of a handful of unskilled arbiters (PC Councillors) would determine your ability to do what you will with your own property. Indeed much of what we now cherish and would like schemes to be 'in keeping with' were designed, built and constructed with no planning system at all...

Ed said...

Materials sound OK but it's difficult to tell how it might look once completed.

I can't find anything on Architecture Design or Christopher Barnes. I rarely use my balcony on the tea factory but the full length light is nice.

Keeping my fingers crossed and anything is better than what is there now but hope this doesn't turn out to be a missed opportunity.

Nick, perhaps we could ask the green tea architects to do an architectural review on such BC issues...

Anonymous said...

I don't agree that the architecture is poor. I think it's quite smart.

D said...

It's a shame nobody builds anything from stone anymore - these disposable buildings all look like crap and are robbing future generations of any sense of history.

Brockley Nick said...

They built the stone circle in Hilly Fields?!

Stone does still get used, not many stone buildings from any period in Brockley though...

Anonymous said...

I wonder why that is D?

pessimist said...

Judging from this design I wasn't so wrong after all.

Monkeyboy said...

Pesimist, the fireworks are going ahead. Good eh? Would you be happier if nothing was built there and the stone clad shed remained?

TM said...

OK

I think it would look alright if the Croydon canal was still there and it was on the side of the towpath.

Unfortunately it isn't.

Brockley Nick said...

Good post, Urbansurgery, thanks.

Headhunter said...

It looks very..... busy... Too much going on. On a busy corner like that, something calming and minimal might be better.

Although nice to see on buildings, timber also needs more upkeep than bricks, metal and concrete. I can imagine that in a few years, the timber won't have been maintained and will start to look tatty. I notced that the some of the timber framed windows on the 1990s built development on Ashby Rd to the side of the Wickham Arms are starting to look seriously decayed. If I lived there I'd be onto the managing agents to get a lick of paint put on them before they need completely replacing.

Brockley Jon said...

For those that think anything is preferable to a car sales garage, if you take a look at the place, it's actually quite quirky. The office is like something from a 70s sitcom, and there is some amazing stone cladding as noted in the other thread. It's the MOT garage at the end of Upper Brockley Road that is the real eyesore.

I'd probably rather a one-storey slice of history than a crappy 'designer' block of apartments (though granted it doesn't bring much of value to the community).

Anonymous said...

An extra SIX homes will certainly tip the parking over the edge- since the end of the Summer hols the parking has been AWFUL around here, and on UBR. As for the construction period, when we'll have all the contractors parking here, AND then parking cranes/jcb's/skips blah blah... I'm really looking forward to the whole project.

Anonymous said...

@urbansurgery - I thought the point of conservation areas was exactly that one could not build anything one wants.

So why bother wih conservation areas?

Anonymous said...

I think the ointbwas that it has to breech a specific statute. If it doesn't it can't be rejected.

Anon One said...

I'm pleasantly surprised by the amount of commercial space, but the design is pretty bad.

Pretty much anything would be an improvement on what's currently there, but this site is a gateway to the Conservation Area (and in it) and a new build should reflect that. The design doesn't even attempt to do so.

I'd imagine the Brockley Society will be all over this one.

Anonymous said...

I would imagine in a conservation area this is a "no go"!

Anonymous said...

I would imagine in a conservation area this is a "no go"!

urbansurgery said...

I did say CAs (conservation areas) were a caveat to what i was writing. This is outside it though no? As far as proximity to one is concerned - you are either in it or not.

Remember planning has two primary functions:

1. To control the provision of utility to a community in accordance with a coordinated plan.

2. Prevent one land owner exercising his rights to develop from harming those adjoining landowners (and to some extent neighbouring lessees).

Taste rarely comes into it

Tressilliana said...

The Brockley Society regards its job as policing all planning-related issues inside the conservation area and also bordering on it. They made that very clear during the Gordonbrock debacle. G is outside the CA but borders it, so as far as they were concerned they had a legitimate interest. I can't see them leaving this one alone, whether it's inside the CA or not.

Anonymous said...

@urbansurgery - no brockley cross is inside the conservation area!!

You can check the map for yourself, on the website of lewisham council.

elsiemaud boy said...

This plot stands inside the conservation area - but that does not mean that it has to be a pastiche of the other properties. What it does mean is that the building should be of architectual merit, enhance the area, and be made of high quality materials. This developer has many properties throughout Dulwich - and should know better than submit these plans for (what an early poster quite rightly called) a gateway development for the area.

urbansurgery said...

very sorry mea culpa, i didn't refer to the CA boundary when first responding (hazy memories failed me) i thought it skirted the back of the Post Office. Design taste still isn't applied however. As this is already a change of use/demolition project it is not a preservation angle the LA will view it with.

The onus is on the developer and the Planning Officers to reach an understanding that it is not detrimental to an area's character. And yes that really is as wooly as it sounds.

5 points they can reject it on:

• it means the loss of a building, structure or particular features which make a positive contribution to the character, appearance or historic value of the area
• it obscures or damages important views within, into, or out of the CA
• the proposed development fails to respect existing urban grain
the proposal is out of scale, unsympathetic to or incompatible with the characteristic form of the area or adjacent buildings, in terms of design, proportions, detailing and materials
• the proposal would result in an increase of traffic, which was not capable of being catered for in a way which would preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the area

As I said earlier LBC planners seem particularly disinterested in design and this application will benefit from considerable planning gain due to what it is replacing on this 'gateway' site.

urbansurgery said...

P.S. Ignore BS arguements of fringe developments; boundaries are absolute.

Ed said...

Seems like there might be scope for rejection under several of those points.

Val said...

@urbansurgery...
not strictly true.
Refer to 1-3 Ashby Road, which was a change of use that failed to enhance the CA due to design and impact on traffic.
Anyway, if local feeling is so strong, councillors and officers have a very good toolkit that prevents development. And this allows them to stop those that will not stand up at appeal. Lobby the council and developer. That way everyone wins.

lb said...

"Design taste still isn't applied however"

I'm glad at least one person on this blog understands what the planning process does and why.

For what it's worth I don't think the design is terrible, just mediocre and lacking in a certain integrity, probably from trying to squeeze a lot onto an awkward site. Wood can be a fine material for modern architecture - just look at what Tadao Ando can do with it - but I think this one suffers a bit from an inevitable (for cost reasons) reliance on off-the-peg stuff for things like windows. Most architects are terribly constrained by their budget.

Ed said...

lb, I agree with the budget issue, silk purses and sows' ears etc.

n.b. I don't necessarilly think it should be blocked/rejected; I'd like to see some projection images but can't find any.

HowSoonIsNow said...

looks like Gordonbrock School - another slice of mediocrity. Why not build a three story building, in London stock brick, in the the same design as the neighbouring Victorian buildings. That would definitely enhance the area and mirror the buildings it sits alongside in the the Brockley conservation area. Or is that too obvious/ simple?

Anon One said...

As well as the Conservation Area point, I'd hope the Council took the chance to look at the impact on Brockley Cross.

I think the proposal is too high for that site. Whilst it may be on a par with some buildings in BC (though the elevations don't seem strictly accurate on the comparison to Malpas Road), the low height of the current building does a lot to keep the area feeling open. Placing a large 3 storey there would add to a sense of enclosure.

Anonymous said...

It's difficult to argue that one. As urban surgery says, taste is not a primary driver for planning regs. Nor is "looks too high" specifically does it breach a regulation, if not you have to somehow prove it detracts from the area. The land is owned by a private individual, building something is his right, there has to be a defendable reason for refusing that.

Anonymous said...

why does everything have to be minimalist??? some of us don't like minimalism in architecture. what's wrong with vernacular or traditional architecture, Georgian, Victorian/Edwardian or even an eco-design?
Minimalism - unless done well is plain dull.

Brockley Nick said...

don't mind any of that either, but do you think the client and the architects seem capable of pulling that off, given these plans?

Anonymous said...

why don't you draw and example of what you think it should look like Nick.

Tadao Tadaum said...

"Wood can be a fine material for modern architecture - just look at what Tadao Ando can do with it -"

Yes but this is not a Tadao Ando is it? It is a medicore design, as you admit. The conservation area guidelines state that new buildings should be of architectual merit. Subjective, I know - but grounds for the planning officer to reject.

Anonymous said...

Time to call in the prince of wales?

Anonymous said...

Time to call in the Prince of Wales?

Anonymous said...

We tried, he said that Brockley was a bit too green and pretentious for him.

Nylon said...

What about the commercial site at the bottom? Looks about the right size for a Tesco Metro...

urbansurgery said...

On a design note I'd say this building is trying too hard to NOT look tall that is half the trouble. as a personal view, any-time that multiple materials are used in a banded way such as this it too quickly becomes a mess.

Too many modern schemes appear scared of simple walls for precisely the reason of scale which is a pity. Much of what is beautiful in London is constructed with a punched wall with beautiful adornment at openings - regardless of the period. Timeless.

Adding detail where no change of material is necessary is IMO just fussy, susceptible to 'fashion' and coincidentally its also where these buildings end up looking tired after all too few years.

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