An award-winning masterplan for a pair of existing housing estates, which has empowered local residents to shape development proposals from micro to macro scales.
Winstanley and York Road are two 1960s estates where residents are suffering from typical problems of mid-twentieth century council housing: disconnected routes, scattered amenities and deteriorating homes. This masterplan, instigated by LB Wandsworth, is putting the local community in the driving seat to transform their homes and wider area.
The estates sit side-by-side between Clapham Junction station and new luxury housing along the river. In an area of the capital that is otherwise very wealthy, both estates suffer from very high levels of unemployment and deprivation – they were at the centre of the August 2011 riots in south west London.
Being the only Labour ward in the north of the Borough, the area is extremely sensitive to the issue of gentrification, and so communication was critical. We had to find a way to explain to the community why regeneration was necessary, what it meant, and why the local authority needed to create opportunities for new housing to fund the wider improvements.
From the start, transparency was key. We began by asking local people to identify the good, the bad and the ugly on their estate: what they wanted to address and what they wanted to keep. From here, we initiated a radical process with the community, outlining four different options for regeneration and fully explaining the costs and benefits each would bring.
We presented these options on a sliding scale: from limited demolition, but equally limited investment; right through to demolishing a significant part of the housing stock, but opening up new streets, new spaces, creating more, better homes and funding new facilities. Along with bigger community based events, we made individual approaches to hard to reach groups, such as pensioners, minority groups and younger people. In the end, 68% of residents opted for the proposals that advocated the greatest amount of change to the estates.
The design of the masterplan is a direct result of this process. For the successful areas of the estate, we have proposed smaller interventions to improve the environment: new lighting, pocket green spaces and innovative, high quality street furniture.
The wider masterplan splits broadly into three character areas: tall buildings with a combination of residential, office and retail uses around a new station plaza in the south; a series of new streets based on a more traditional street pattern in the centre where the majority of the new housing will be located, and taller residential buildings above a new leisure centre, where there is an increase in scale to the riverside developments to the north.
New housing is arranged around courtyards: a more familiar form reflecting housing in surrounding neighbourhoods. Crucially, the scale of the buildings is varied, ranging between five and eight storeys, providing medium rise, high density housing, not high rise.
The community’s decision in favour of wider development has also given us the chance to address the problem of scattered facilities. The masterplan brings the school, youth centre and health centre together into an activity hub, and allows us to ‘move’ York Gardens, the existing park, into the middle of the community.
Perhaps most importantly, this masterplan will allow for the creation of safe and legible routes from Clapham Junction to the river. It will allow this disconnected area to once more become a vibrant and welcoming part of south west London.
Our work on the masterplan, and the relationships that we’ve built across the estate, have led to our appointment as design champions for the scheme. In the future, when LB Wandsworth takes the vision forward, our role will be to work with the developers, and ensure they create what the community have agreed to.