Project Description

CRP is an ageing Retail Park in Enfield, belonging to BlackRock Real Asset Management. At 4.5 hectares it is big, and although it is close to Southbury Train station, with its western flank the A10, and eastern boundary a Strategic Industrial Location, this was always going to mean that placemaking would overshadow the residential content.

The Consented scheme is something to be proud of: just over half the site (5 acres) will be green open space, and connectivity east and west, and to the station is restored. With an eye on its current employment use, we have created a place that people can live, work and play in. The Consent will deliver:

  • 1800 new homes of which 35% will be affordable
  • 1,785sqm of new retail space
  •  A 3,729sqm work hub, targeted to small and medium sized businesses
  • 1,000sqm of community space, including a crèche and a two-GP Health Centre.

Despite CRP being Enfield’s largest private sector development, and including its tallest building, I secured support for the proposals from Enfield RoadWatch, CPRE London, and the Enfield society.

Full details of this exciting and extensive project are shown below.

Overview

Enfield Council is keen to put itself on the map. It has a housing crisis, and although the fifth largest London Borough with a population of 333,000, it is the seventh least densely populated London Borough. With more than a third (40%) of the area being designated Green Belt, and with some substantial urban parks, there is real pressure on brownfield land to deliver the GLA’s Housing Delivery Test targets. Enfield is the 12th most deprived London local authority, a position that has slightly worsened over the last decade according to the 2015 Index of Multiple Deprivation.

With good connectivity, some outstanding natural green space, and good schools it is no surprise that the borough has been earmarked by developers for regeneration. Changes in retail trends – particularly the growth of internet shopping – and the Council’s own actions in terms of bringing forward brownfield land and intensifying and renewing their own council housing estates, means there are opportunities. Meridian Water – one of the largest urban regeneration programmes in the country is a £6bn, 20-year project led by Enfield Council, bringing 10,000 homes and thousands of jobs to Enfield, next to the Lee Valley Regional Park.

Now a second site in the area has received planning Consent for a large, mixed use redevelopment. Being brought forward by NEAT Developments and the site owner BlackRock Real Asset Management, Colosseum Retail Park is a 10 acre, brownfield site on the Great Cambridge Road (A10). The park sits on a major intersection, a mile from Enfield Town to the west, and the same distance from Ponders End in the east.

It is the largest private sector planning application to have been made in Enfield. The scheme will deliver a whole new neighbourhood: 1800 new homes, and will make a significant contribution to Enfield’s housing need – assessed by the Mayor of London to be around 20% more than that being delivered [1] but the substantial green open space, and 5,500 sqm of commercial and community space will, the developers believe, make it a place to live, work and play.

1. Housing Delivery Test 2019, London Plan (Performance at 77%)

Affordable housing overall will be at 35%, with a significant number of the new homes for shared ownership (part owned/part rented) to help bridge that gap between the “owning West” of Enfield with the “renting East” of Edmonton. Shared ownership is scarce in Enfield’s housing offer: at 0.9% of supply, it is substantially below the London average of 1.4%, and Southbury Ward itself contains just 26 shared ownership homes.

The proposals are in line with the Draft London Plan from the Mayor (GLA), being high density (c430 homes per hectare), tall (29, 24, 22 and 18 storeys, with smaller blocks from 3 storeys) and with a low car-parking ratio of 1 car per 5 homes.

Colosseum Retail Park location

Location

Colosseum Retail Park site planThe area surrounding the site is divided up between large, out-of-town retail units, warehouses, factories containing light industry and some suburban housing. Current retailers include B&Q (1), Dunelm (4), Buzz Bingo (3), and KFC (2). There is also a large Cineworld complex to the west and a Sainsburys and Morrisons supermarket to the north and south.

Southbury scores highly in terms of public transport access; Southbury Station is located a 5-minute walk away, providing a direct 40 minute train into Liverpool Street or Cheshunt. There are 465,112 annual passengers that use the station, with the figure set to rise.

There are 10 bus routes accessible by foot, where you can reach rail stations including Enfield Town, Meridian Water and Ponders End. By car there is direct access into Central London via the A10.

Historically Southbury was a rural area, however today just 12 per cent of houses have easy access to green space, despite there being several large parks nearby.

There is a major divide between the east and west communities that border the site: CRP sits almost like an ‘island’, physically cut off by the A10 to the west, and Strategic Industrial Location (SIL) and national rail lines to the east.

The two halves of Enfield are very different; the west is older and more affluent, characterised by a ‘borough of villages’ with a market town feel and generous green spaces. Towns including Winchmore Hill, Southgate and Cockfosters are within the 10% least deprived areas in England.

On the flip side, looking east, areas such as Edmonton Green, Ponders End and Turkey Street fall within the 10% most deprived areas in England [2]. Here there tends to be a younger, more diverse population, with housing along the industrial areas of the River Lea. Overall the crime rate in Enfield is lower than the London average, making it an attractive option for families to put down roots. There is a higher number of young people aged between 0-15 compared to other London boroughs.

2. 2015 National Statistics

Placemaking

The site provides an opportunity to create an identity for Southbury by establishing itself as a unique neighbourhood with strong links to Enfield Town and Ponders End.  Key to the design is the creation of through-routes for pedestrians and cyclists, connecting to nearby parks and open spaces as well as building new ones on site.

The developers, NEAT Developments, have an extremely ambitious aim: can this new neighbourhood act as a connector between the two halves of Enfield, and in time, reduce those inequalities?

By drawing on the existing cultures of the surrounding communities, CRP will become part of the catalyst, along with Meridian Water, for regeneration that Enfield council has been looking for. Nearby towns of Southgate and Palmers Green are steeped in the performing arts sector; the development will become an events space, as well as embrace the retail, leisure, and food sectors.

There is a thriving food and festival scene in Enfield, with the Council-backed Food Forum providing a platform for independent growers and producers. CRP will build on this by offering cheap commercial rent for start-ups and hosting foodie events.

Fitness and wellbeing will be a key part of the new scheme. Enfield has 20 per cent more sports facilities per head than the London average. The development will encourage local sports instructors looking to rent space, while improving accessibility for cyclists and walkers, and providing large open spaces for outdoor sports activities.

The scheme will also provide office space, which will appeal to the growing industry of co-working companies who are looking for affordable rents in emerging locations, and who post-Covid are looking for out of centre locations.

The idea is to create a work ‘hub’ of small and medium sized businesses, including cafes, arts and crafts shops, and fitness studios. The statistics show demand for this is high; as of 2018, there were 12,875 businesses registered in Enfield, of which 92% employ fewer than 10 people. This proportion of micro-businesses is higher than both the London and national averages (91% and 89% respectively). What’s more, business survival rates currently stand at 92% for the first year – higher than the London and UK averages.

In 2017, the business start-up rate in Enfield was above that of the UK on average, although below the rate for London. The work hub will aim to drive innovation and entrepreneurship in the borough, rather than detract from the existing retail offer of Enfield Town centre.

Finally, Enfield has a lively events scene, with annual exhibitions taking place at Forty Hall Estate, outdoor film screenings and community celebrations such as the Turkish Cypriot Cultural Festival. CRP will host cultural, wellbeing and fitness events all year round to suit different audiences, and become a destination for visitors.

Demographics

There is huge opportunity through this scheme to support employment and particularly those working in the creative industry. Enfield’s proportion of employed people [3] (aged between 16 and 64 years) was estimated to be 69.5%, which is lower than the London and UK averages (74.2% and 74.9% respectively).

3. ONS 2018

The statistics also show that the rate of self-employment in Enfield (approx. 10%) is now lower than in London (13.3%) and the UK (10.5%), having previously been significantly higher than both. As a result, Enfield has a higher-than-average rate of people claiming employment benefit, with a notable increase since the rollout of Universal Credit in 2017.

Compared to other London boroughs Enfield has a significantly lower proportion of adults aged between 20-44 years old. Developing a new, affordable, creative district that encourages self-employment will attract a vibrant and energetic demographic that is key to establishing long term sustainability.

As well as the commercial opportunities available, creativity will play a part in the physical fabric of the scheme. Public art will be incorporated in the design, with local artists commissioned to display their work on the buildings and in the external landscaping. Not only will this create a unique sense of identity but it will encourage entrepreneurship. It will also create a sense of ownership and pride among the residents who live in the development and are a part of its community.

Architecture

Historically a market town, Enfield has an established and diverse architectural style with a varied roof-scape. Building shapes and volumes tend to overlap which adds to its sense of character. This will be mirrored in the new development by adopting a layered approach to the buildings.

Colosseum Retail Park architecture

An analysis of Enfield Town shows five distinct building typologies: townhouse, mansion block, link building, shoulder, and tall building. The development will include the tallest building in Enfield to date, at 29 storeys. This is essential to create a high-density scheme such as this one, which refuses to compromise on outdoor space. The inclusion of tall buildings will be balanced by the generous 5 acres of green open space, 3 acres of which will be public realm, while other buildings will range in height creating a varied roof-scape typical of Enfield.

Building materials will also match the current style of the surrounding area, with a variety of brick types and colours used for the building façades.

Glazing will be used for commercial and communal frontage for better exposure and a sense of openness. Shopfronts and doorways will reflect those proportions found on the local high streets. In residential blocks a raised ground floor will mean increased privacy and security. All homes looking out onto communal gardens will have private entrances and planting in front of the windows and doorways.

The site boundaries will incorporate features to detract and protect from the busy A10 Road. There will be a buffer space around the boundary, with taller, denser blocks positioned to shield the interior buildings from noise and air pollution. Landscaping, planting and careful positioning of building volumes will also create this sense of peace and distance from the main road.

Buildings have been positioned on a North-South facing axis to ensure maximum sun/daylight. The presence of taller buildings provides the higher density that helps pay for the community space, as well as maximising levels of sunlight in the communal/green spaces. Trees, green roofs, green walls and nature-based sustainable drainage will also feature.

Public realm

Colosseum Retail Park masterplan

Outdoor space is a key aspect of this scheme. There are a number of parks and green spaces, each offering something different.

What they all have in common is that they are inspired by the habitats found nearby. For example, The Meadows features play equipment based on the nature of the Lee Valley Regional Park. Similar to the natural structures created by birds and wildfowl, the equipment is playful, adventurous and ‘larger than life’ to create a sensory and exciting experience for children. Plants surrounding the play area vary in colour, texture and aroma. Bird boxes, bat boxes and insect ‘hotels’ will encourage wildlife to thrive.

The Meadows provides a green oasis for residents to socialise and interact, building on the existing community and forging new relationships. A small pocket of space faces onto the residential street, marking the entrance from the south.

The Linear Park is a key connector in the development, providing a ‘green spine’ running from north-south through the site, linking the quieter residential areas with the busier ‘Heart’ in the south. The park faces onto residential units and apartment or lobby entrances on both sides, bringing the space to life while offering natural surveillance. The main aim of this park is to provide a series of inter-linked external spaces for the local residents and an attractive route for visitors within a structured landscape of feature trees and ornamental planting.

To the north of the development, a shared walking and cycling path draws people away from the busy A10 road. There is an outdoor gym and open lawn for recreational activities.

In the southern part of the park is the main, designated play space. The design is based on the rich agricultural heritage of Enfield and the local food production activities that take place.

The landscape resembles crop markings, windmills and barns, with climbing frames to play and storytelling. There is also a small plaza with a canopy of trees allowing activities to take place underneath. Circular benches surround the tree trunks providing spill-out from adjacent active frontages.

Healthy Streets

Colosseum Retail Park healthy streets

The entire site is connected via a series of residential streets allowing vehicles and pedestrians safe access to the residential blocks. The streets are lined with trees, and feature seating areas and localised sustainable drainage systems. There is a low speed restriction and the network has been designed on the principles of Healthy Streets.

These pathways form the backbone of the development, incorporating routes for access alongside communal spaces for people to relax, socialise and enjoy.

However, connectivity is also about great access to wifi, strong internet speeds, coverage, instant connectivity and reliability. NEAT intend to have their development accredited by WiredScore, the Michael Bloomberg inspired rating scheme for new buildings that took off in New York in 2013. The design looks to have the fewest possible access points in each building, and to ensure the basic building infrastructure includes fibre into the homes via the main riser, with wired connections to each room. This level of service prevents the proliferation of unsightly satellite dishes on the building externals.

Externally, wifi access will be delivered in the Heart area of the scheme, aiming to cement it as a place to be, and not just for those renting space in the Hub.

There is an additional cost to provision at this level – though a lot less than the cost of retrofitting, but for NEAT and BlackRock it is all about future-proofing their asset through resilient, flexible and seamless connectivity.


Case study written by Anna Reynolds

If you need realistic but ambitious help and advice, I am always happy to discuss potential projects. Please email office@brianreynoldsassociates.com or call me on 07957 401488.