Posts Tagged ‘Affordable housing’

Construction Complete at Marcon Place, Hackney

June 21, 2016


Helping RSL clients to excel in private housing: in practice

August 15, 2013

“By challenging the RSL’s approach to affordable housing we helped our client evolve a high quality planning scheme, greatly exceeding their expectations of what they believed was possible”. Stephen Davy – Director

Planning permission has just been granted for 43 homes on the former Livity School site for a residential redevelopment in Brixton, London for RSL client Genesis Housing Association.  On the face of it, this is an interesting, but not remarkable achievement.

What is unusual is that within the London plan compliant split of 50% private sale, 50% affordable, revenue from the private sales will be used to fund the affordable housing.


Genesis Housing Association had a wealth of experience in the affordable housing sector, and indeed entered the private-rental homes market in April this year after launching a report with the Smith Institute on the future of housing associations called ‘Social Hearted, Commercially Minded: A Report on Tomorrow’s Housing Associations’.  According to Genesis, the reportexamines how housing associations have to strike a new balance between their social purpose and commercial activity as a result of the changing policy and economic environment”.

The title of the report summed up our challenge.  To design a scheme, which would add significant value to the private homes and maximise profit, which would be used to subsidize the affordable homes, but without alienating the client by pushing the RSL too far out of their comfort zone.

Merely upgrading the affordable specification was never going to be enough and we explored a variety of ‘value adding’ options. We developed a brief and specification for the private sale homes, which went far beyond upgrading an ‘affordable’ brief; it challenged the RSL to bravely consider private housing layouts far outside their ‘affordable’ comfort zone.

Out went the affordable floor-to-ceiling heights and in came double height spaces.  Interiors with spatial interest were created out of a brief, which included the need to reduce common areas.  Standard mid-range kitchens and bathrooms were rejected in favour of high-end, beautifully crafted units.  Oak engineered timber floorboards lie across the living areas, with Italian large format porcelain tiles to the kitchens and bathrooms.  Under floor heating at ground floor reduces the removes the need for wall cluttering radiators and is complimented by generous full height doors.  Thoughtful architectural gestures demonstrating great attention to detail, even at planning stage, feature throughout and include oak window seats in the dining room and matching oak clad staircase

Externally, panels by the communal flat entrances have been crafted from individual handmade terracotta blocks forming a 3D geometric design based on the client’s logo.  The same design also features on the steelwork screen and gate to the communal area.

We communicated our ideas for the design and specifications clearly and simply, providing evidence of what had been achieved on other private schemes, and sharing our ideas using sketches and 3d models to demonstrate to the client that they could achieve a higher quality than they imagined. Critically, we were able to convince the client’s sales team that a more architectural approach would increase saleability and profit, which could be channelled back into the affordable element of the scheme.

This is an imaginative scheme for an RSL client to undertake.  We are grateful to our client for trusting us to take them beyond their comfort zone, the resulting scheme is one that both we and our client will be proud to put our names to.

This may not be 100% affordable housing, but with deep cuts to the government’s financial support of social housing, it is certainly one way to help fund it.

Livity was granted planning permission in July 2013 and is due to start on site in September 2013.  We would love to hear about your affordable or private housing schemes, if you have any queries, or would like to speak to us about this, or another scheme, please do not hesitate to contact us.