In an astonishing “back to the future” move, Brent council has approved plans to tear down the grim South Kilburn tower block estate, considered a model of modern living when it was opened 50 years ago. The estate will be replaced by traditional mews cottages and mansion flats, following the original street plan.
Nineteenth-century Alpha Mews will be reinstated as part of an ambitious regeneration scheme that will, by 2025, see 2,700 new homes built in the area. About 1,500 of them will be earmarked for former residents of the high-rise estate, people on Brent Council’s housing waiting list, and first time buyers priced out of the private market, says the council. There will also be a new school, sports centre and health centre.
Brent Council has just approved a major phase of the project, with 144 new homes opposite South Kilburn tube station designed by two of the UK’s leading architectural practices - Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (LDS) and Alison Brooks Architects. James Miles, an associate director of LDS, said some 40 per cent of the homes will be affordable, and will replace three high-rise blocks.
“Our intention was to move right away from tall buildings and bring the height down to a more human scale. The site is surrounded by some very handsome Victorian villas and we wanted to return to that sort of scale.”
The new buildings will be a maximum of four storeys above ground level - with a sub-basement level in some blocks. Alpha Mews, blotted out when the estate was built, will be rebuilt with a 21st century twist as a “shared surface” street without kerbs, where pedestrians and motorists will be expected to share the space without defined road and pavement areas - an idea that is currently being installed on Exhibition Road, South Kensington. Experts believe it is safe and encourages both motorists and pedestrians to take greater care.