The existing Strongbridge estate was built using timber frame and fibre glass called ‘Resiform’, which has not lasted well. Following an unsuccessful major repair initiative in the early 1990s, and a fire in 2002, it was obvious that the buildings had come to the end of their useful life. Metropolitan agreed to demolish the remaining flats and to rebuild the estate in close consultation with local residents.
The site lies in a predominantly residential area of semi-detached houses, five minutes walk from Rayners Lane underground station. It occupies an elevated position between two railway lines and a road.
The regeneration of the Strongbridge estate was completed in 2011, and the mixed tenure approach to the scheme is representative of the local area.
Strongbridge sustainability features
Standards achieved: EcoHomes: Very Good; Lifetime Homes: Secured by Design
Materials and construction: The original flats were constructed using ‘resiform’, which offered poor thermal performance and wasn’t economic to refurbish. The new flats are built of reinforced concrete and masonry, with a mixture of brick and render façades which are far more durable and will make future refurbishment easier. The construction methods used benefit from sound attenuation, improved security and long term sustainability. Twenty four of the houses are constructed in highly insulated timber frame, with pitched roofs.
Water, Biodiversity and Community
Local residents have contributed to the design process throughout. They chose to stay onsite during the rebuilding programme, before transferring to their new homes. A programme of community investment is promoting cohesion between existing and new residents, with Metropolitan forging links with Home Group to use their neighbouring community facilities.
Public transport and access are being promoted in partnership with London Underground and improvements have been made to the bridge which links the homes and the nearest tube station.
The mixed tenure approach makes the scheme more representative of the area, with a significant level of owner occupancy.
Most of the existing trees are being retained in the new scheme and improvements have been made to nearby woodland.
Key Lessons Learnt
The site offers very restricted access for such a large scale redevelopment programme and as residents remained on site throughout, space has been a critical issue.
Services supply has proved highly complex issue. All services have had to be supplied through one site entrance, including services to existing blocks where residents continue to live, temporary services for new blocks and permanent services once the new blocks were ready.
Remaining alert to this complexity, however carefully phased the programme might be, is key.
High quality, single tenure, traditional construction flats will be built around a small central park, which will include a playground and public garden. Timber framed houses will be built adjacent to the existing small wood that will be improved and partially replanted as part of the scheme.
The finished scheme will have 107 houses and flats for rent, 40 flats for shared ownership sale, and 107 flats for private sale.
The regeneration is being carried out in close consultation with residents. Metropolitan worked closely with Harrow Council, who assisted with decanting.
The scheme was funded largely through the sale of private housing, which is cross subsidised the affordable homes for rent.
A fixed price construction contract was negotiated in January 2008, and the affordable housing was completed in June 2011.