Weston Williamson and Pitman Tozer schemes shelved by council over costs

The practices’ proposals for redeveloping parts of the Bells Gardens and nearby Lindley estates in Peckham, south London, would have created 127 new council homes.

The council said it had also mothballed a separate Weston Williamson-designed scheme for 79 new council homes as part of an in-fill scheme at the 1950s Sceaux Gardens Estate in Camberwell, which was approved in late 2021.

Redesigns are likely for any future proposals for all three of the sites.

Weston Williamson’s designs for Bells Gardens would have delivered 83 new council homes across three new buildings along with a new community centre, landscaping and play area.

The scheme was approved in November 2021 but stalled after initial site preparation was carried out. An advertising hoarding around the site remains in place. Weston Williamson confirmed to the AJ that it was no longer working on the scheme.

Source:Weston Williamson + Partners

Weston Williamson + Partners’ Bells Garden Estate

Pitman Tozer’s scheme – which was approved in August 2021 – would have delivered 44 new council homes in an L-shaped block with a community garden.

Practice director Luke Tozer told the AJ: ‘After extensive community consultation and support for this important scheme gaining planning in 2021, we sadly have had no further involvement in bringing this forward.

‘I can only speculate that the delivery of these much-needed homes is now struggling with the same headwinds of housing delivery more generally – construction inflation, high cost of borrowing, policy inflation (fire/climate emergency), local authority funding commitment on statutory obligations for temporary accommodation, insufficient grant funding and a government that frankly doesn’t care about affordable housing.’

Southwark Council explained to the AJ that the Bells Garden, Lindley and Sceaux Gardens projects had been paused over cost inflation and that it was ‘working to find a way to deliver new homes on those sites in the future’ – with new designs expected at a later date.

Source:Pitman Tozer Architects

Pitman Tozer Architects’ Lindley Estate

Southwark’s cabinet member for new homes, Helen Dennis, said while the council had delivered 3,000 new homes, ‘The cost of building has increased significantly, while at the same time, the funding the council has to pay for them has reduced [and] Sky-high interest rates and inflation are making borrowing extremely costly.’

Meanwhile a fourth estate regeneration scheme – designed by Bell Phillips Architects – has also been thrown into doubt over fire safety. The Styles House regeneration project would have delivered 25 new council homes near Waterloo.

Southwark said the pause was because the proposed scheme was ‘unable to accommodate a second staircase as the floorplate is too small’. Bell Phillips was approached for comment and it is unclear whether the practice is still working on the project.

Deputy leader of Southwark Council’s Liberal Democrat opposition Rachel Bentley said the pause on the four schemes put the council’s 11,000 new homes by 2043 target in ‘serious doubt’. She added that other schemes could also be at risk.

‘This news casts serious doubt on their ability to meet their historic pledge to build 11,000 new homes,’ Bentley told the AJ. ‘Bells Garden, Lindley and Styles House are clearly just the beginning and we will likely be seeing more developments get the axe in the coming months.

Source:Bell Phillips Architects

Bell Phillips Architects’ Styles House proposals

‘Rising costs and a crisis in the maintenance and repair of existing stock mean the council is quite simply not able to provide the housing Southwark needs. Seeing existing projects stall and delay will bring no comfort to the thousands of families on the housing waiting list.’

Dennis, Southwark’s cabinet member, commented: ‘This may be disappointing to some residents and I am sorry this had to happen, but this will mean we can focus on ensuring all our homes are warm, dry and safe.

‘We will be looking at alternative ways to fund new homes on [the Bells Garden] site, and we may also need to consider new designs. We will work with residents to explore these options and to make sure any revised plans are right for the estate.’

Lindley Estate site view: