Located in London Road in Croydon, Vistec House is an existing building for office use that lies within a High Street location with a recent history of large-scale residential development and improvements to the public realm. The building had already obtained permission for an office (B1(a)) to residential (C3) conversion under prior approval by a previous architect and developer for 95 units. Planning permission was also granted under a separate full application for 2 storey and 5 storey extensions to the main existing building and a 9-storey rear extension to provide Houses of Multiple Occupancy (Super HMO) for 90 lettable rooms with associated cycle and refuse stores.
To facilitate new access into the extensions, including new lift cores, changes in layout to the previously approved main building were required resulting in the loss of 7 units approved. Totalling a building of 178 units. Approval was also granted for external works on the site, including excavation to the front of the property to provide a lightwell and access to the lower ground floor.
Work was implemented to both previously approved applications in 2017, resulting in the full planning permission remaining in perpetuity. However, works were halted due to commercial reasons with the building approximately 50% complete. This resulted in the need to appoint as a suitably experienced Architects practice to play a key role in assisting the design and construction team in completing the building ready for occupation.
Lytle Associates Architects were appointed in 2019 by the original client, however the building was later sold to a developer/ contractor who we were novated to as part of the original agreement under a JCT Design and Build 2016 contract.
Considering the complex planning history, it was necessary to develop a planning strategy for the project following our appointment. This included the need to re-apply for the prior approval (apart from 8 no. units which were in an occupiable condition) due to the requirement under the GPDO that all units would need to be completed within 3 years from the date the previous permission was granted. Our new application was granted by Croydon Council in 2019.
Our planning strategy also included a series of amendments to the full application which remained in perpetuity, addressing outstanding planning conditions and revised conditions to the previous approval.
Our appointment also included the development of a detailed tender package. As part of this process, we worked with specialists. including fire consultants, to undertake a comprehensive review of the previously approved layouts whilst developing our plans at the detailed design stages to ensure compliance with the Approved Documents of Building Regulations. This process highlighted several anomalies which needed to be addressed under separate non-material amendments to bring any design changes in line with planning. Including further fenestration changes (including the addition of bathroom and kitchen extract grills for ventilation). External changes to facilitate fire escapes and the removal of some protruding balconies (within 1m of the site boundary) which would have proved a hazard in the event of a fire under the previous plans.
We also completed a fully comprehensive review and assessment of the existing state of construction where it was necessary to strip the previously constructed work back to the structure.
The Lytle Associates scheme retains much of the previously approved layouts, also proposing 178 units in total. The project makes the most of the number of residential (C3) units with the prior approval GDPO units being 2bed studio flats located within the envelope of the existing office building.
The extensions house HMO units up to 2 persons with suitable shared kitchen and laundry facilities between flats in each cluster. Some areas of crossover exist where C3 residential units are in the extensions, however this has been carefully managed in the planning process.
Due to the tight nature of the site, it was an agreed planning strategy that the scheme would have no parking provision. The site itself is well located for residential use with no significant transport or highways issues, enjoying excellent links to public transport to Central London and within walking distance to the Croydon Metropolitan Centre.
The scheme offers suitable secure cycle parking within the Basement, in accordance with the requirements set out in the 2016 London Plan.
The tight nature of the site also meant that the amount of refuse provision was restricted. Therefore, providing enough refuse facilities which met the requirements set out in the Croydon Waste and Recycling in Planning Policy Document 2015 for a weekly collection would prove a challenge for the design team. Lytle Associates Architects worked with the client to develop a strategy for waste disposal where a second weekly collection is to be provided by a private company, as a result only half of the recommended facilities are required.
Finally, we worked with Building Services Engineers to undertake a full review and assessment into applicable renewable and sustainable energy sources for the scheme. The outcome of this has been to place photovoltaic panels on the proposed roof.