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  • Robert Barker

Delivering architectural housing on Small Sites - a good grounding for bigger and better things.

25% of the London Boroughs are expected to provide around 50% (45-62%) of the entire housing target on small sites. 60% of all Boroughs (65% of outer London Boroughs) must provide over 300 homes per annum on small sites. This far exceeds historic delivery rates for many boroughs.


We consider there to be 6 types: Conversion, Extension, Replacement, Infill, Backland and Residual Land. Many of the sites are complex with multiple challenges as a virtue of their constrained nature and proximity to other buildings and sensitive receptors.

Stolon has developed considerable expertise in developing on small sites, particularly

complex back-land and infill sites. We successfully secured planning consent for three small site in 2020 in three different London Boroughs - Harrow, Enfield and Royal Borough of Greenwich (pictured left to right). Each face their own challenges, and across these sites we had a good spectrum of potential issues.



The most frequent / recurring issues are site access, utility connections, loss of daylight/sunlight to adjoining properties, privacy and overlooking, outlook from the units, party walls and contamination. Furthermore, as we are striving to achieve Zero Carbon on all new developments and heat pumps are the favoured heating system on these small sites, which in turn requires an inevitable need for noise abatement too. Add to this, the site-specific issues that have arisen on these sites, such as flood-risk, World Heritage Site status, conservation areas, listed buildings, unstable ground conditions, ecology, trees, buried services, electricity substations, and network rail…. and one fast realises that you have to become an expert in many different fields to deliver excellence on these type of sites.

Despite all of the issues faced, we have developed some interesting solutions, many set around 'sociable spaces', such as the one between Royal Hill and Circus Street, in Greenwich, pictured below.



We have been amazed by the number of clients who have expressed how refreshing it is to work with an architecture practice that understands economics and appropriateness – two essential ingredients in any scheme but particularly where one is dealing with so many complex issues. This does not mean that we curtail our design creativity, rather it means we FOCUS our design creativity to add value not cost. And so long as the value outweighs the cost, then it normally makes sense.


From this work, we have developed a very robust and comprehensive design process, and philosophy, including in-house capabilities in many of the fields – flood-risk, daylight/sunlight, landscape, drainage, heritage etc. Now that we are starting to work on more and more major schemes, we are starting to see how beneficial this is to the design process and we strongly believe it will deliver more beautiful, sociable and optimised developments.


#smallsites #sociablehousing #planning #floodrisk #stolonstudio #housingdelivery #designvalue #inventivedevelopment #designforwellbeing

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