Review: Recreating terraced housing on a tower block site

Goresbrook Village replaces three east London tower blocks with terraced housing, but its connections with surrounding roads could be better, says Mark Pickrell.

The new streets of terraced housing (PIC Stitch Studio)
The new streets of terraced housing (PIC Stitch Studio)

The Goresbrook Village development in east London replaces three council owned tower blocks with a linear network of terrace housing with an open community feel, but the connections with surrounding major roads could be better, finds Mark Pickrell.

The Goresbrook Village redevelopment in Barking, in east London, has replaced three 16 storey, council owned tower blocks comprising 282 flats. The replacement low rise development provides a mix of housetypes, from family homes to flats, with 98 of the 149 new units being affordable. The site is bordered by the busy A13 dual carriageway to the south and Castle Green Park to the east. Surrounding development consists of a variety of 1950s and 1960s housing.

The tower blocks were prone to cold and damp, and had reached the end of their life expectancy. The redevelopment was part of London Borough of Barking and Dagenham’s estate renewal programme. The council and developer, Countryside Properties, appointed Stitch Studio Architects, a practice known for its ethos of bringing back the street to such projects.

The Le Corbusier style high rise flats have been replaced with a mix of two-to-four storey houses, with a traditional British terrace design set around a linear road layout. A modern twist is achieved through the use of extensive glazing to create interest in the street frontage.

Character, connectivity and vistas

The scale, layout and overall appearance of the development integrate well with the existing housing in the area, while providing a healthy range of housetypes. The road layout, including shared space without kerbs, helps to give an open community feel to the area.

While the layout and appearance of the development are high quality and drastically improve the area, connectivity is somewhat limited by the lack of a road link with the adjacent Maplestead Road. While pedestrian and cycle links are possible, the lack of road links limits how the site integrates with the surrounding road network.

The linear street layout creates a traditional appearance, but end views from within the site appear to have been neglected. The site boundary could have allowed a greater sense of place by allowing views across Castle Green Park, or by having a defined focal point. Instead, the combination of limited planting and boundary treatment results in a disappointing edge to the site.

Despite the lack of road links and the missed opportunities to improve views from within the site, the scheme does provide quality housing, much of which is affordable. The linear layout of the site creates an attractive development, in keeping with the surrounding area.

Mark Pickrell is senior planner at planning consultancy Boyer, and is based in its Colchester office.

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