Hester Architects Ltd


Harrow Road

Shortlisted as a finalist in the ‘Best Large Development’ category at the National Affordable Housing Awards 2010, Catalyst’s Kensal Green site was previously occupied by a builder’s yard. Now it has been transformed to provide 125 new homes across three tenures, with 11 Affordable Artist studios.

As the site is split across two London boroughs the process of getting the development underway faced a number of unusual challenges, including two separate planning applications – one for each borough. Despite the complexity of the planning process, Hester Architects Ltd achieved planning approval at the first attempt with both Boroughs, and managed to negotiate with two sets of planning officers, urban designers etc. often with opposing views and policy drivers. The process was further complicated by local elections which resulted in a change of administration in both Boroughs.

The Scheme

The scheme had to be re-planned to meet the new administration’s vision for the area. The original Labour administration wanted a high density fully affordable scheme with minimum car parking, but the new Conservative councillors preferred a very specific mix evenly split between private for sale units, Shared Ownership and Social Rented units. Within each tenure they also insisted on a very specific mix of unit sizes, with a high proportion of large dwellings. This resulted in a complex plan with larger 4 and 5 bed family units being positioned on the ground floor with private amenity space adjacent, with smaller flats above.

This scheme demonstrates our skill in negotiating complex planning approvals.