Little Oval - an Alternative Masterplan

Please note, we do not have Berkeley's budgets so we cannot produce a Masterplan as comprehensive as a multi-billion-pound corporation - we are a group of local volunteers who believe passionately that this is an opportunity to enhance the Kennington Oval area with development that brings substantial new housing and business to the area, without spoiling the human-scale Kennington environment

Little Oval

A community-led master plan to provide sufficient housing in a new medium-rise neighbourhood which integrates with surrounding streets and parks

Based on polling and what a range of residents told us during several meetings starting in April 2015, Create Streets have considered how the OAKDA area and its environs should be developed.

We have done this on a pro bono basis in order to give residents and the neighbourhood forum something to use in discussions with Lambeth / Berkeley Group to try to ensure an outcome which, while realistic and sufficiently high density to meet the requirements of the London Plan and help meet London’s housing needs, is also appropriate for the area, will integrate with the surrounding neighbourhood and maximises wellbeing and long term value for residents and the neighbourhood.

The purpose of this note is to set out our sketch master plan in order to give local residents food for thought in the important discussion they will be having with Berkeley in weeks and months to come.

A. What we heard

A.1 Views from local community on ‘consultation’ process to date (verbatim comments from 10th April meeting)

§ “I was annoyed because the first I heard of it the consultation was finished and I had never heard of it despite living across the road from the site” (resident, Kennington Road)

§ “We got forgotten. we hadn’t been informed, we created a bit of a fuss” (resident Montford Place)

§ “The consultation was all sweet and nice ….. But what they said was a fairy story…. As I read it [the summary of consultation] my heart sank…. It’s complete window dressing. We can do a lot more and a lot better.” (resident Kennington Park Estate)

§ “There’s a lot of upset in the borough. People are up in arms.” (resident Kennington Park Estate)

§ “I had never heard about it. I don’t think any of my neighbours had.” (resident, Kennington Road)

A.2. Findings from online survey of 147 local residents (March 2015)

§ Local areas to act as a template

- 7% want St George’s Wharf as template for Oval redevelopment area

- 73% want Hanover Gardens as template

- 72% want either Kennington Road or Oval as template

- 92% agree with statement “streets and squares of Kennington are a fitting template for development around Oval Development Area”

- 8% agree with statement “high rise towers of Vauxhall & Nine Elms are a fitting template for development around Oval Development Area”

§ Number of storeys

- 91% want development to be 8 storeys or below (58% 5 to 8 storeys & 33% 4 storeys or below)

- 9% want more than 8 storeys (of which 5% more than 12)

B. What we agreed in discussions with local community

B.1 Overall brief & master plan

§ Key theme / strap-line: “This is Kennington not Vauxhall”

§ The physical scope of the brief

- It is very wrong just to be looking at the site in isolation

- Instead there should be three interlocking plans

- The Neighbourhood Plan (the area of KOV neighbourhood forum)

- The Master Plan (for the site plus its immediate environs towards Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall)

- The Site Plan (for the specific site)

§ One key theme for the master plan is creating a pedestrian access north from Kennington Park through Kennington Park Estate onto site of large Gasholder and north to Kennington Lane

§ In addition, in order to ensure that the Site Plan is part of the local neighbourhood, a Design Code might be wise to ensure it does not descend into a canyon of glass and steel with a few brick ‘panels’

B.2 Key agreements from discussion: the site plan

§ Urban design principles

- Squares with usable green space

- Connections in site – both east / west and south / north

- High density low rise (below 8 storeys)

- Not a park plus towers (“we’ve got the park, we’re not looking to produce another park”)

§ Use & tenure

- Adaptability

- Mixed use (SME commercial & retail as well as residential)

- Social housing

- Family housing as much as possible

- Adaptability

§ Design implications

- Trees on street

- Retention of large gasholder but not others – to be used as a London ‘square’ not a building – possible name: “Little Oval”

- Not glass and steel – London bricks

- Contemporary version of Kennington vernacular not slavishly following it but very much ‘following on’ from it

- Encouraging people to walk / bicycle (some non-vehicular streets)

- Possible reuse of previous street-name: “Gasholder Place”

- Active frontages with doors on streets

§ Proposed Streets

- North / south on far east of site from Kennington Green to Kennington Lane (close to South end of Courtney Street)

- North / south from Oval to Tesco entrance on Kennington Lane

- East / west at angle from corner of Montford Place to Vauxhall Street (pedestrian at end of Montford Place)

- (?) Possibly another street running east / west at an angle further north – if possible

C. Wider Master Plan: green route from Kennington Park to Kennington Lane

§ At the heart of the master plan for the wider area is creating a ‘green-route’, a pedestrian link north from Kennington Park through Kennington Park Estate onto the site of large Gasholder and north to Kennington Lane

§ In order to achieve this we suggest that materially enhanced pedestrian crossings are created as shown on Figs i and ii below.

§ In addition roads should be partially pedestrianised (or a strong shared space introduced) as also show in Figs i and ii.

Figs i and ii – Green route and pedestrian crossings from Kennington Park to Kennington Lane, , Urban Engineering Studio

D. The Site Plan: “Little Oval”

D.1 The site plan itself

As can be seen from figs ii and iii the Little Oval site plan plugs the site back into the neighbourhood.

§ Plan is meant to be an extension of Kennington’s medium rise streets of brick not Vauxhall’s towers of glass. While not being identical to the historic streets and squares such as Kennington Lane or Cleaver Square it will very clearly be a derivation of them in form, materials and, to some extent, ‘style’ (see below)

§ The focus of the plan is “Little Oval”

- This is a green forming the setting for the retention of the frame of the largest gas holder (which is very slightly further north of its current position – to give it breathing space)

- It is proposed to grow trees and climbing plants up the metal frame and possibly to decorate it with coloured lights

§ The street pattern proposed is very closely based on the existing one but with the addition of Gas Holder Place, Beefeater Lane and a street immediately to the north of Little Ova (though see question below on street names)

§ No local homes or ongoing businesses (e.g. the Beefeater distillery) would be demolished by this scheme. All but one of the Gasholders would be

§ A route from the south running to the south-west of Henry Fawcett Primary School towards Little Oval would be opened up

§ A new Green is proposed to the north-west of Little Oval, giving further emphasis to the green heart of the development at the centre of the network of streets

§ The streets proposed are either 11 or 15 metres wide (building face to building face). They are all lined with trees, the narrower with one line of trees, the wider with two lines

§ It is proposed that some streets would be vehicular though designed in such a way as to impose very slow speeds. Others would be pedestrian-only or only permit vehicular access at some times of day.

§ Generally new buildings would be 15 metres deep overall and between 4 and 6 storeys high (excluding basements). The top floor in 6-storey buildings would be in the roof space

Fig v – 231-245 Kennington Lane © Stephen Richards

This section of Kennington Lane immediately to the northeast of the site shows both the strong ‘verticality’ of the windows and the varied treatment of the roofline. This is (and looks like) a series of buildings - not one huge block. Without being absolutely identical, the proposal is for the buildings of Little Oval to achieve this quality

§ It is envisaged that the buildings will be deeply integrated mixed use, containing flats, maisonettes, shops, offices, etc. Homes could be for social housing, market sale or market rent. Shops would be on the ground floor of some streets (particularly on the primary axes and

§ It is proposed that the existing supermarket will be incorporated on the ground floor of a block on its current site with its roof as a garden and parking underneath

§ Based on GLA London Plan and Lambeth rules, the number of cars for new residents would be quite limited but what parking places there are proposed to be at basement level served by car lifts

§ Proposed that courts within the urban blocks are seen as common gardens to be shared by residents

D.2 Some possible elevations

Insert images – figs vi to viii

D.3 Density and homes

Set out three scenarios

D.4 Character and possible design code

§ While not being identical to the historic streets and squares such as Kennington Lane or Cleaver Square we think it likely to be crucial that Little Oval is a clear derivation of them in form, materials and, to some extent, ‘style.’ This will permit Little Oval to plug in socially and materially to the surrounding community

§ Key elements of this might include

- Walling materials of London stock clay bricks with natural stone.

- Windows following the strong verticality of Kennington (see fig ii) with a mixture of vertically sliding sashes and Crittal windows

- Eaves heights varying within each block also to add interest and to prevent the blocks seeming too large – this is a crucial component of Kennington Streets (See fig v)

- Many top floors might include top floor apartments with generous Crittal windows or similar

- Some projecting porches and bay windows are included in appropriate locations to add interest and variety.

​- ‘Rounded corners’ seen elsewhere in Kennington (see figs ix and x)

Figs ix & x Rounded corners in Kennington: a feature to pick up ?

§ However, we also think it is important that some buildings, whilst following the basic geometry of the area are permitted to break some of the rules perhaps with different building materials or colours

§ In order to develop a series of streets that have variety within a pattern and which permit different architects to build cost effectively we suggest this would be a perfect area to develop a design code. This should be done in conjunction with the local community

§ Form-based design-code: A form-based design code was defined in the 2006 Planning Policy Statement 3 as ‘a set of illustrated design rules and requirements which instruct and may advise on the physical development of a site or area. The graphic and written components of the code are detailed and precise, and build upon a design vision such as a masterplan or other design and development framework for a site or area.’

§ Codes primarily regulates what a place looks like rather than the development control process.

§ Although design codes were the de facto approach used in much of the UK in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (above all London), it is fair to say that design codes have not always sat easily with the Planning system as it has evolved in the UK post-1947[1]. In consequence, design codes are now far more common abroad then in the UK. Today, design codes in various forms are used internationally, for example in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Australia and the United States, as a means to focus on the delivery of high quality with popular support. Details vary but design code-like numerical coding of what is permissible in Paris are the key axis of planning control in that city as opposed to the development control principles that dominate in the UK.

§ A 2006 UK Government assessment of 15 different Design Codes contrasted to 4 non coded approaches found that:

Significantly, where codes are being implemented on site, schemes have been delivering enhanced sales values and increased land values. When set off against the up-front investment, this to a large degree determines the value added by coding, at least in crude economic terms. The qualitative evidence suggests that the outcome is positive, and for commercial partners, over the long-term, codes seem to be more than paying for themselves.” [2]

§ The same research also found that some public bodies found the greater effort (and cost) often required up-front harder to justify. Following on this report, Design Codes were embedded in Planning Policy Statement 3 in 2006. They are referenced, though more weakly, in sections 59 and 60 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF):

“59. Local planning authorities should consider using design codes where they could help deliver high quality outcomes. However, design policies should avoid unnecessary prescription or detail and should concentrate on guiding the overall scale, density, massing, height, landscape, layout, materials and access of new development in relation to neighbouring buildings and the local area more generally.

Planning policies and decisions should not attempt to impose architectural styles or particular tastes and they should not stifle innovation, originality or initiative through unsubstantiated requirements to conform to certain development forms or styles. It is, however, proper to seek to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness.”[3]

[1] For example, in London Acts of 1667, 1707 and 1774 defined in some detail requirements for proportions, height, window design and overall size. See Cruickshank D. (1975), London, the art of Georgian building, pp. 22-29.

[2] DCLG (2006), Design Code Practice: an evaluation, pp. 14-5.