Existing Building

The Sutton Estate, Chelsea

Clarion Housing Association and Durkan
Civil and Structural Engineer
Heritage & Culture
Central London

The Sutton Estate, Chelsea is located at the south eastern end of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea within the Hans Town Ward and represents one of the earliest and most successful examples of purpose-built social housing in England.

The estate currently contains 462 affordable rented homes in 15 five-storey blocks. This equates to approximately 23,000m2 of residential area, in addition to which there is some 1,450m2 of retail space. The buildings were constructed using high quality materials with the inclusion of interesting stonework features. The estate has recently been included in a new conservation area, specifically established to help protect both the Sutton Estate and the adjacent Samuel Lewis estate.

Four of the 15 blocks that comprise the Sutton Estate have been vacant since 2016. Despite significant investment over the years, the four vacant blocks do not meet the Government’s Decent Homes Standards and therefore cannot be let for social rent. This project focusses on the refurbishment of the vacant blocks and the improvement of estate wide soft and hard landscaping.

This refurbishment involves remodelling their interiors to deliver a smaller number of homes but of an appropriate size, layout and quality to meet current London Plan requirements. At the same time the buildings need to be upgraded to include lifts and modern levels of insulation. Underpinning all this is a commitment that there will be no loss of affordable floor space. The GIA of the four blocks is currently 7090 sqm. The finished scheme is to re-provide at least this quantum. There is significant architectural quality in much of the detailing across the Sutton Estate, which Clarion Housing Association are keen to see retained and enhanced as part of the refurbishment scheme.

The project has many challenges as a result of recent tensions and mistrust surrounding earlier regeneration proposals. The buildings themselves are very close to one another and neighbouring homes, with significant overlooking and overshadowing. There are many stakeholders to bring along, both estate residents and external parties.

For the RIBA Stage 2 report we prepared background information on the existing site and the existing buildings. Presented concept proposals for the structural modification of Blocks A to D to construct internal lift shafts. Alongside concept proposals for Foul and Surface water drainage, including SuDS which contributed to the successful planning application in January 2021.

We have completed the RIBA stage 4 detailed design. The project will be constructed under a Design & Build contract. We are being novated to the contractor for RIBA Stage 5, with an independent team from Civic Engineers carrying out a monitoring role on behalf of Clarion Housing Association.

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