The £22 million development for Grainger plc is situated on the site of the former Ross Company’s optical works. It is set over eleven buildings, several of which are retained industrial structures that make a positive contribution to the conservation area and others that are carefully designed new buildings.
The high quality scheme offers an array of residential accommodation, including 33% affordable and shared ownership units, as well as single and duplex apartments, and detached, semi-detached and terraced private houses. All accommodation will be internally designed to a very high specification. Parking across the site is limited to the basement of the larger apartment buildings.
The height, massing, materials and spatial relationships respect and draw inspiration from the site’s varied context. The existing close proximities of the old industrial layout are retained, the pedestrian access and courtyards increased, providing biodiversity and natural sunlight.
The scheme will be set in a high quality landscape, which highlights open water rills and large mature trees.
Every design decision was informed by the intent to make a positive contribution to the conservation area, including such seemingly opposing considerations as brick detailing to mirror existing facades and acknowledging that the site’s long history of change has always been one of modernisation of design. The buildings have been stepped in scale according to those adjacent Victorian residential properties and early 1900s commercial property.
Planning permission was granted in 2011 for a variation to the 2007 consent for one of the new build plots - building J - which allows for a multi-occupancy commercial building suitable for a variety of different sizes and types of business.
Importantly, this permission was obtained includes the option, 12 months after practical completion, for automatic conversion of any remaining unsold units to residential use, without the need for additional planning consent.
In the event of this occurring, the scheme is designed to meet both uses wherever possible, to allow for easy conversion.
A central courtyard and extensive roof terraces at second floor level add the opportunity for socialising and privacy and the building’s sunlight provision is based on the units becoming residential, which requires more natural light.