Grant Associates rework Queen’s Gardens as part of council headquarters conversion

Plans for Taberner House, Croydon, including the remodelling of Queen's Gardens. Image: AHMM

Architects AHMM have unveiled plans for the conversion of Croydon Council’s former headquarters into 500 new homes, including the regeneration of Queen’s Gardens.

Landscape architect Grant Associates will introduce a new central play area into the park, alongside two new squares to improve access for both residents and the public. The park dates back to 1896, although it has been remodelled several times since. Grant Associates will bring out the park’s Victorian heritage, restoring walls and a sunken garden.

Andrew Grant, director of Grant Associates, said: ‘Queen’s Gardens has a tangible sense of history and is the most important green space in central Croydon. We are looking forward to working with the local community to develop designs to regenerate the gardens and create new public spaces and a playground that will reinforce the community character of this green oasis.’

Proposals form part of the wider mid-Croydon masterplan to regenerate the town centre. Subject to planning permission, building work is expected to begin in 2018.

1 COMMENT

  1. Sad to say, but in my view, this development is a prime example of too much development bulk on one site. There are 4 big blocks –and they are going to dominate the Gardens. What the publicity fails to mention, is that part of two of these large blocks are built within in the current Queen’s Gardens, the footprint of which has been reduced. The rest of the development site is that of the former Croydon Council HQ, Taberner House, an iconic 1950/60’s tower block, demolished a few years ago.

    About 2 years ago, there was an even more damaging proposal, which took even more of the Gardens. The new Council scrapped that one. Hooray!

    However, the new council decided to market the site, and presumably then to max up the sale price, leading to the developer’s need to max out the development with a huge number of flats. So one can’t blame the developers or the architects, in my view.

    To be fair to the architects, the individual buildings are very high quality, using good materials. The ground floor will be an active frontage, cafes and shops with lots of glass= light will come through. A gap is planned between each of the four blocks, with a wider gap on the N-S axis between the pair of Eastern side blocks and the Western pair. This will let some sunshine into the Gardens, at the lunch time period, when office workers come out to get a breath of fresh air, and some sunshine.

    My big worry, regarding the critical lunch and afternoon period for the users of the Queen’s Gardens (which lie directly North of the buildings) is that they and the Gardens will be plunged into gloom , by the two Western side blocks, but particularly by the NW block, which , although partly in the shade of the SW block, will nevertheless cast a big shadow, particularly in Winter. If only this block could be omitted !

    When I went to the January public consultation, I was shocked to find no overshadowing drawings or visuals on display.
    I quizzed the developers and architects on this, and was assured that these would be available for the planning application.
    The Taberner House building cast a huge shadow, but how to compare its shadow impact on the Gardens with the new development’s shadow impact?

    This surely was not morally right– these shadow drawings should have been on display at the consultation, for the public to view. Otherwise, how can they understand how a very large project like this, which will affect the area for 100 years, will affect the sunlight reaching their park?

    These very graphics are now available, but as far as I can see, are for 3 days in the year, not 4 . The design — both of the landscape, and the architecture, are both excellent, in my view. The landscape design clearly takes inspiration from the quirky Victorian- exotic feel of the Gardens, with its sunken area, once a terminus station–Croydon Central.
    The playground and cafe ( both are new features) are well-sited in the sunniest NW corner of the gardens, so should be well used.

    I hope that my fears prove unjustified, and that the amount and duration of overshadowing do not adversely impact on the remaining Gardens to the degree I fear. The lesson however should be clear– first—-get the number of blocks and their heights, and the number of flats right, and in proportion to the site, and do proper shadow studies . second—- do a design brief and ask the public– then, market the site with a design brief.

    Lewis White

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