South London scheme replaces HTA-designed flats proposals hit by “viability and deliverability” concerns
Plans for a high-rise student housing scheme in Southwark are being recommended for approval following viability concerns about an earlier version of the scheme consented for the same site last year.
The latest incarnation of the Sylvan Grove proposals, designed by TP Bennett, would deliver 688 student rooms, 1,983sq m of commercial space and 23 flats across two buildings – one 34-storey tower and a seven-storey shoulder block. All of the flats will be for social rent and will be in the shoulder block.
Developer Joseph Homes last year secured consent for a scheme for the 0.29ha site that featured 219 homes and 2,986sq m of commercial workspace in a 32-storey tower and a connected five-storey block.
However a report to members of Southwark Council’s Planning Committee said Joseph Homes “reassessed the viability and deliverability” of the approved scheme, which was designed by HTA, and decided not to progress it.
A planning statement supporting TP Bennett’s current proposals cited “significant increases in build costs and changes to Building Regulations and Fire Guidance requiring the inclusion of a second core” among the viability issues. It also said “slow growth of residential values” was a factor.
The government’s plans to make second staircases mandatory in buildings taller than 18m has prompted design changes in numerous schemes. Elsewhere in Southwark AHMM has been prompted to redesign its proposals for 36- and 34-storey residential twin towers at Canada Water because of regs changes.
Recommending TP Bennett’s Sylvan Grove proposals for approval, planning officers said the scheme’s appearance drew on the industrial heritage of the wider Old Kent Road area and incorporated part of an existing warehouse on the site into the scheme’s lowest levels, set back from the tower.
They added that although the tower element of the scheme has two additional storeys in comparison with the original consented scheme designed by HTA, the increase in height is only 1.8m because the student accommodation will have lower floor-to-ceiling heights.
“The development is similar in appearance to the extant permission, however due to the alteration from residential to PBSA, external balconies have been removed, which has subsequently reduced the extent of articulation and depth across the façade,” officers said.
However they concluded that TP Bennett’s design was still considered to be “high quality” and would “significantly improve the site” in the context of the surrounding area.
Southwark’s Planning Committee meets to consider the application at 6.30pm on 28 November.
Joseph Homes’ project team for the current proposals includes planning consultant Rolfe Judd, structural engineer Civic Engineers, MEP consultant Introba, and landscape architect OOBE.