Case study: Green Man Lane
Thu 29 January 2015, 9:51 am
Advertorial written by Ealing in London partners, Rydon/A2 Dominion.
London is currently in the middle of a housing crisis. This is well reported and has resulted in housing being high on the political agenda across the capital. Affordable housing is in particularly short supply making it increasingly difficult for first time buyers to get into an already prohibitively expensive market. The cuts in government grants for new homes has placed an unprecedented pressure on local authorities and housing associations to find new ways of financing and building homes for their residents. Creative thinking and innovation are needed in order to respond.
Ealing Council and its partners have definitely stepped up to the mark and are setting examples as to how this can be done. One great example of this is at the Green Man Lane estate just west of central Ealing. This run-down 1970s estate is being given a fresh new start by development partners Rydon and A2Dominion. Previously plagued by overcrowding, crime and antisocial behaviour, resulting in high levels of dissatisfaction from those living there, Rydon and A2Dominion set out to create the local community’s vision of an outstanding yet affordable and practical design that overcomes these challenges.
By engaging in a step by step consultation process with residents, neighbours and other stakeholders, a design emerged that reflected the local community needs, providing not just 714 new homes but ensuring a high proportion of affordable homes - over half - which is considerably higher than other similar sized regeneration schemes around London. At the old estate a considerable number of families lived in one bedroom flats, but for the redevelopment more multi bedroom homes are being provided to ensure families have enough space to live.
A major example of responding to community needs has been Rydon and A2Dominion’s proposal to increase the number of school places in the area. The Council’s original plans did not include proposals for this as the focus was very much on housing, but Rydon and A2Dominion’s variant bid for the project in 2008 nonetheless included the rebuilding of St. John Primary School to generate more school places. Rydon and A2Dominion’s subsequently undertook further discussions with LB Ealing once the main housing scheme was under way and in November 2013 cabinet did approve the reconstruction of the school, to increase capacity by 210 places. Incorporating education as part of a housing-led project would have been difficult in the past but the Council’s desire to think and act in new ways provided the support for this important innovation to become a reality. The new school places are being funded through the development of additional new homes by the partnership making use of the marriage value between the main estate and the existing school, as well as the Council’s main education funding stream. A planning application has just been submitted for these proposals which should allow works to commence on site later in the year.
Another innovative idea incorporated into the scheme, supported by the residents during consultation, is a community café. As part of the first phase this was built and effectively donated to the community. The café is run by a community-based operator and can be used by locals to organise events and hold meetings, as well as calling in for coffee and cakes. This space is also supported by OPEN, a local arts project that organises exhibitions, lectures and performances for the community.
The first of four phases at Green Man Lane was completed in March 2014: 168 properties currently occupied by over 500 people. This phase consists of 106 affordable homes, 49 shared ownership and 13 units that have been privately sold, with a further 8 homes for private rent also created by reconfiguring some of the ground floor space.
The area for the second phase has been demolished and is currently planned to be completed in 2017. All 714 homes are expected to be completed by 2022.