Having been alerted to something going on by the increasing number of hits to my blog entry Crap flats and back to backs I’ve just done a quick web search and lo and behold work started on site in March. I’m six months late with the news but I don’t live in London or skim all my entries for updates.

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UPDATE: This project started on site in March 2013

Below is the rendering of the intended scheme from the Building Magazine article.

Hounslow council has approved a £100m scheme to regenerate a derelict 1.85ha site in Brentford, which has lain empty for 20 years.

19th May 2011 – Carlton have submitted revised plans for a 200 new homes development on the Alfa Laval site in Brentford.

Designs by Assael Architecture for a mixed-use scheme on the former Alfa Laval site in the heart of Brentford have received planning permission.


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Building Design magazine ran a story recently about a new development in Roehampton (South West London) by Assael architects for some flats.  I phoned Wandsworth council to try and find out more and this is what I discovered.


Type in the planning reference 2009/4199

Land at Highcliffe Drive, Clarence Lane SW15

No single aspect flats that I could see from a cursory glance but no kitchens either.  The kitchen seems to be a vanishing room in modern developments and in this development appears only as a corner unit in the living rooms. No view from the sink, no isolation of smells from the living room.  Too bad if you’re boiling cabbage or cooking curry.

I’d like to say that I don’t understand why modern developments have done away with separate kitchens but the sadness is that I do understand and I don’t like it.  If you look back at the history of housing from year dot through to the present there was no doubt a time when families shared a kitchen as in tenement blocks, or all lived in one room where the range provided the warmth, and variations on that theme.

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During the 1940s my late Father studied architecture at the South East Essex Technical College in Longbridge Road Barking, later to become the Barking Campus of the University of East London and then sold in 2006 for housing.  “Academy Central” developed by Taylor Wimpey has preserved the main building and put housing on the surrounding land as advertised at their website here

Living space

I had a quick look at the plan for a two bedroom flat and noted immediately that it is corridor access single aspect.  The kitchen, bathroom and ensuite shower are all internal having no natural light.  The provision of two bathrooms and toilets in a space intended at most for two adults and two children, and more likely a couple with a guest room, seems excessive and takes useful space away from the master bedroom.  There is a stub wall only between the kitchen and living space and no dining room.


Cooking smells will accumulate in the living room, unless some form of extraction is present (not immediately obvious from the plan).  Through ventilation is not possible without opening the door to the corridor which will compromise security and provide an opportunity for a young child to run out into semi-public space.

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Dufton’s Yard Leeds from http://www.leodis.net/discovery/

[I found the following article as a result of looking through the blog statistics.  Often people search for things in unusual ways I hadn’t thought of and the string of Google returns they get includes articles I’ve missed.  This is one such. – Ed.]

From the Observer in 2004

The once-banned housing is now proving a popular city option, writes Chris Partridge

. . . Back-to-backs do not have a distinguished history. In the 18th and 19th centuries, mill and mine owners built mile upon mile of them to cram the maximum number of workers into the minimum space, at the lowest possible cost . . .

. . . The president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, George Ferguson, says: ‘There is increasing interest in what the street can offer as an intense form of urban development . . .

. . . ‘The time has come to break the rules that are preventing us building places that we find delightful, with narrower streets that we are allowed at present,’ he says. ‘We are plagued with a load of regulations that are outdated and prevent an awful lot of charm that we find in old places.’ The result would be a revival in the community life that the close-packed street patterns of the east end of London, the mining villages of South Wales and the mill towns of the North did so much to engender, he believes.

This is not to say that all future houses should be back-to-backs. ‘I would be against reintroducing back-to-backs leading to a monoculture,’ he warns. ‘The way forward is flexible housing regulations.’


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