Uncover the Latest News on Croydon’s “Poor Man’s Manhattan” Construction, Cartwright Pickard’s Prefab Building, the Ashley Down Bristol Train Station, and DfE Calls School Building Collapse “Highly Likely”

In today’s news, we will look into the thousands of flats that are currently being built in the neighbourhood of Croydon that has been termed “poor man’s Manhattan.” Meanwhile, after a second look, “modern means of construction” are still on full display at Murray Grove, which is now known as Shepherdess Walk and was Cartwright Pickard’s first project to be completed. Also, construction of the new Bristol train station in Ashley Down is scheduled to get underway early in the following year. On top of that, according to the Department for Education, the risk of school buildings collapsing is now “extremely likely.”

Croydon’s “poor man’s Manhattan” has thousands of flats under construction

Original Source: Thousands of flats under construction in Croydon neighbourhood dubbed ‘poor man’s Manhattan’

This neighbourhood’s Victorian homes facing a skyscraper show its transformation.

Thousands of homes and tower blocks are being built in Addiscombe. The “poor man’s Manhattan” neighbourhood is a short walk from East Croydon Station.

Some homeowners worry there isn’t enough infrastructure to accommodate the rapid population growth. Addiscombe West, near the station, has changed the most.

Victorian homes that back onto skyscrapers, including Croydon’s new tallest, show the neighbourhood’s transformation. Citylink’s two buildings are 158 metres tall, 20 metres taller than Ten Degrees, the black skyscrapers across the street.

The second phase of the Morello development on Cherry Orchard Road connecting to the station will have about 600 units. Sean Fitzsimons, the area’s councillor, argues that new developments don’t have enough affordable accommodation and that entirely rented plans create a “transient population.”

The “bed to desk phenomena” doesn’t revitalise the town centre, according to Cllr Fitzsimons.

He stated, “I assume people who work up in London aren’t going out in Croydon.” You’d hope people spend money on weekends, but I suspect they just take the train.”

Sheila Bushell, who has lived in Altitude 25 on Fairfield Road for eight years, chairs the owners association.

She said, “I have seen significant changes, we are becoming like a poor man’s Manhattan, the entire nature of the place has changed.” It progressed quickly. I understand the necessity for housing, but I’m concerned about its impact on residents.

“These enormous impersonal boxes don’t contribute to communal togetherness.” Planning restrictions haven’t caught up to build-to-rent in this country.

The blocks are overdeveloped and lack architectural merit. They’re meant for short-term use and Croydon residents can’t afford them.”

When she first arrived in the region, she could get a doctor’s appointment in a week or two, but now she had to wait six weeks. Ms. Bushell, like others in the neighbourhood, is concerned about the proposed 450-flat block on the Croydon Park Hotel site.

This would “blight” the Altitude building, she warned. A pre-application was heard by the council’s planning committee.

In the 1970s, Steve Weston acquired a property in Addiscombe. The 70-year-old does most of his shopping in Addiscombe High Street and thinks the tram network’s 2000 arrival enhanced the region.

“I bought my house in the seventies and brought a family up there, but now my own kids couldn’t necessarily afford my house to live there,” he added. Over the years, folks who acquired a house here have liked Addiscombe. Now flats are the trend, but I don’t know who can afford them.”

Since the 1960s, 82-year-old Jean Neal has resided in the same Cedar Road leased property. “There are just three people I know here anymore, it is really a shame,” she remarked. They tear down houses and turn them into rooms or little flats, so it’s no longer a community. They’re ruining the neighbourhood. I worry about my grandchildren’s housing.

Since 2010, Addiscombe West’s councillor is Patricia Hay Justice. She stated, “Communities are changing very quickly and the resources aren’t there, that is when people do feel afraid and start to fight against each other. We can’t only focus on planning.”

She agreed with others that London Affordable Rent flats are too expensive for many Croydon residents and worried that her teenage children won’t be able to stay in the region.

“Transportation and health services won’t cope”

Miguel Rey, 55, moved to the neighbourhood from Clapham a year ago and worries the local infrastructure won’t be able to handle thousands more people.

He acquired a house in the region because of its good transport links, like many others. He now reschedules his workdays to avoid East Croydon Station rush hour.

“Infrastructure is already saturated, by the time these new flats are filled my concerns are that transport and health services won’t cope,” he said. If one train is cancelled at rush hour, it’s hard to get to work. To avoid rush hour, I had to change my day.”

Addiscombe West’s population rose to 16,212 in 2021 from 14,468 in 2011. The new Morello flats are marketed as an “exciting new era for this dynamic and energetic community that you can be part of”. Despite his misgivings, Cllr Fitzsimons believes the area is ideal for new flats. However, he believes new structures should be limited to the height of the 50p building.

“We are living near one of the busiest stations so it would be nuts not to develop anything adjacent to it,” he said. I don’t mind towering structures, but I think the area’s buildings should be smaller than the NLA Tower (known as the 50p building).

Cartwright Pickard’s prefab building revisited

Original Source: Building revisit: Cartwright Pickard’s pioneering prefab

Murray Grove, now Shepherdess Walk, Cartwright Pickard’s first finished project, still exemplifies “contemporary ways of construction” after a return visit.

Murray Grove, 500m east-west from London’s Old Street junction, has two buildings that introduced two separate prefabricated construction methods to the city.

Waugh Thistleton built a nine-story CLT residential tower in 2009, an innovative British project. Cartwright Pickard Architects built 30 affordable rent apartments in two five-storey wings joined by a cylindrical lift and stair tower at Murray Grove and Shepherdess Walk ten years ago.

Peter Cartwright and James Pickard won the Peabody-organised design competition against Ian Ritchie and Future Systems for their first project. At a Rowntree Trust housing innovation meeting, Pickard, an ex-protégé of Peter Foggo, addressed Peabody director Dickon Robinson. He worked in Sweden, saw Swedish prefabricated timber frame housing, and wanted to study modular construction at greater proportions.

Steel-framed modules with factory-installed doors and windows make up Murray Grove. A carefully timed cavalcade of lorries transported the modules to site and craned them into place within 10 days. The five-storey stair and lift cylinder was delivered in one crane-drop.

These building components cost half the project’s construction. The only post-module work was connecting balconies to façades, clip-on terracotta tiling, tongue-and-groove cedar panelling, and craned installation of prefabricated roofing.

The foundations and groundworks took the most time during the six-month build, although a later BRE review concluded that Murray Grove’s modular method cost 5% more than a comparable project done in normal ways but took half the time.

The buildings look young from the outside (we couldn’t visit any apartments). The street-facing German tile has not faded and remains even-coloured.

The visible structural steel parts and still-gleaming steel cross-ties that link the exo-frame columns bearing the precast concrete balcony bases are the same. Their gently coffered soffits, which were cost-effectively designed with the manufacturer, are regular in colour and do not oxidise or discolour where they touch the steel.

The south and east elevations overlook a courtyard garden well protected from long periods of sunlight and the sight and sound of traffic in Murray Grove and Shepherdess Walk, which explains why the horizontal boards of western red cedar cladding have very little uneven bleaching and no significant water run-off marking due to the 1.5m roof overhang.

The nail-less cedar cladding has been given a Class 0 fire coating for the first time, and more than two decades after the boards were factory-fitted to the modules, there is no cracking, warping, or age-related movement. The powder-coated surfaces of the Danish-made Velfac double-glazed windows, aluminium-framed externally and timber-framed internally, show no indications of wear and strain. The project was completed with no defects. Five years after completion, maintenance expenses were significantly lower than equivalent dwellings in typical buildings.

Uncomfortably repeated, these observations indicate the architecture’s long-term resilience and quality, especially in the building’s details. Pickard wanted to construct elevations that were limber and sparse in the Miesian sense, resulting in graphic and three-dimensional effects that are fine-lined rather than forcefully expressive.

The metal balustrade panels’ opacity, the exposed vertical and horizontal steel parts’ slim portions, and the handrails’ simple connections show this. The obtuse triangular-plan balconies extending from the east and north façades have exquisite asymmetry and radiused “prows.”

The still-shiny radiused soffit ribs of the steel decks of the stair/lift tower show it well. This architecture is a welcome response to the hundreds of London apartment buildings with vulgarly tricked-up, unattractive, or mute façades that have appeared since 1999.

The bud has one visible worm. The exterior aluminium mesh panels of the tower silo, whose details are wonderfully finessed, are a melancholy coda: the metal has definitely never been degraded and appears practically leaden contrasted to the rest of the design. Peabody was negligent: a soap-and-water scrape could rejuvenate the screens.

Murray Grove, Peabody’s first 3D modular building, predated their 2002 BedZed zero-carbon dwelling, according to design director David Stronge.

‘Murray Grove took a lot of bravery,’ he says. Since then, Strong says, Peabody’s housing developments have evaluated improvements case-by-case. Logistical issues may prevent some new systems from being implemented on taller buildings: ‘Designs must demonstrate superiority.’

They must be waterproof quickly and deliver the most housing units on a site. Níall McLaughlin’s dichroic glass façade pieces in Silvertown (2004) and Henley Halebrown’s Edith Summerskill House skyscraper in Fulham will have prefabricated full-section outside walls craned in two-storey portions, demonstrating Peabody’s innovative construction methods.

Ambitious explorations. Even though Murray Grove is architecturally beautiful and functionally and socially effective (occupant turnover is low), large housing complexes still resist innovation.

The fundamental reasons are that the construction sector works to profit margins of roughly 2% and a rising percentage of architects’ fee proposals for schemes are less than 2% of construction cost, which has been toxic to new design.

How many architects fear modularity and prefabrication would diminish their particular architectural creativity? Murray Grove proved otherwise.

Micawber Street is opposite Murray Grove’s west wing. Wilkins Micawber in David Copperfield said, “Never do tomorrow what you can do now.” Innovative or modular housing rarely follows this rational and noble rule.

Architectural perspective

Murray Grove was the first UK project to utilise steel-framed, totally modular volumetric manufacturing to increase building quality and drastically cut site time. The building was nearly entirely produced offsite using modular pieces that were fully fitted out at a factory and assembled on site in 10 days, utilising automotive production techniques.

The project was worldwide recognized for its pioneering design and use of offsite technologies, which the housing minister labelled “modern ways of construction.”

MMC, as it is now known, has matured into a viable, cost-effective, and speedier alternative to traditional procedures.

This project was the only UK building to receive Millennium Product designation from the Design Council in 2000. It helped Cartwright Pickard get started.

As Murray Grove celebrates its 25th anniversary, our design ethos—challenging the status quo and creating better solutions via architecture, manufacturing, and environmental design—remains.

James Pickard, founder director, Cartwright Pickard

Client perspective

Peabody pioneered cheap volumetric modular housing. Murray Grove, now Shepherdess Walk, was one of the UK’s first multi-storey steel volumetric housing estates, built in 1999. Cartwright Pickard and Whitby Bird designed, Yorkon built, and Kajima supervised the project. Over the previous 23 years, repairs and maintenance have been similar to our other classic buildings.

We used the lessons for future plans. We use design and construction innovations to solve budgetary, time, and space restrictions.

Our Bow Creek project utilises precast façade panels for manufacturing precision and to avoid scaffolding over the busy A12. We design and specify smaller projects traditionally to appeal to local contractors and tradesmen, boosting SMEs and the local economy.

As opportunities emerge, we will continue our inventive designs and structures. Henley Halebrown will crane massive façade and structural panels into position for a Hammersmith and Fulham residential complex.

Offsite assembly will reduce deliveries, build more efficiently, and shorten the project’s duration, minimising its influence on the neighbouring streets.

David Stronge, Peabody Design Director


Murray Grove relies on offsite manufacturing and no wet trades. These illustrations show precast concrete walkway panels attached to steel-framed modules. To bolt the precast concrete panels to their outside steel columns, a steel channel is cast onto the front face. This lets the balustrade posts be reattached. The walkway construction was conceived as a cost-effective, repeated kit of pieces.

James Pickard, founder director, Cartwright Pickard

The Ashley Down Bristol train station will be built early next year

Original Source: New Bristol train station in Ashley Down will begin construction early next year

Temple Meads and Filton Abbey Wood should have half-hourly trains.

A new Ashley Down train station will be built early next year and finished in 2024. The new station on the railway between Temple Meads and Filton Abbey Wood will serve the future YTL Arena.

Station Road, south of Ashley Down allotments, will house the station. Part of Concorde Way will be blocked for construction, with a diversion down Boiling Wells Lane. The station should have half-hourly trains.

After a West of England combined authority meeting approves financing next month, construction should begin. The mayor applauded the station’s connection to jobs, education, and recreation.

Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said: “It’s terrific that work is poised to get under way on our second new railway station for Bristol—with our city’s first new station in almost a century now practically finished at Portway Park and Ride.

For the first time in almost 60 years, Ashley Down residents will be able to catch trains locally, improving access to jobs, education, and leisure, lowering congestion and pollution, and eliminating social and economic isolation.

“Our investment into improving the rail network, and working with partners to achieve this, is an important part of our long-term strategy to boost sustainable transport and increase connectivity across Bristol and the wider region—as we work towards the mass transit system Bristolians need and deserve.”

The Beeching Cuts closed Ashley Hill railroad station in 1964. The Portway Park and Ride train station will open early next year.

The MetroWest Phase 2 project will build additional train stations in North Filton, near to the arena, and Henbury, including Ashley Down. North Filton is slated to open in 2026 after delays at these two stations.

Bishopston and Ashley Down Green Councillor Lily Fitzgibbon said: “We are happy to learn about Ashley Down station progress. Residents waited long. We remain worried that people from farther out may utilise the residential streets around the station as a free park-and-ride, so we will keep pressuring the government for a residents parking zone.”

DfE calls school building collapse “highly likely”

Original Source: Risk of school buildings collapsing now ‘very likely’, DfE says

After Serious structural concerns’ arise, the government moves classroom safety to the cross-government board.

After “severe structural issues” increased and the Treasury didn’t provide further funds, government officials raised the likelihood of school buildings toppling to “extremely likely.”

According to today’s Department for Education annual report, school blocks collapsing is one of six “major risks.”

According to the report, “There is a risk of collapse of one or more blocks in some schools which are at or approaching the end of their designed life-expectancy and structural integrity is damaged.”

“System construction” light frame structures developed between 1945 and 1970 are most at risk.

It’s now “important – extremely likely.”

A board of permanent secretaries from government departments currently handles school building safety.

“The increased number of major structural defects detected in October 2021 raised the likelihood of the school building’s safety risk,” the accounts stated.

The 2021 financial review did not agree to enhance condition financing or the reconstruction programme, therefore difficulties are “unlikely to reduce in 2022.”

The DfE said it is prioritising schools “where this is proof this danger is present” in its freshly opened school redevelopment project.

Due to budget constraints and material shortages, “post-war system builds” used novel construction methods.

It notes that their condition “varies widely” according on age, construction type, and maintenance history.

Previous DfE investigation showed 14,000 school blocks from the 50s and 60s, costing £4.4 billion to restore or replace.

It’s more than one in five of the 64,942 blocks in 22,031 schools, although the analysis did not include “system builds.” 1940s blocks totaled 793.

DfE: Nowhere with “imminent life risk”

The top part of a brick structure close to a sports hall toppled onto a London school’s roof earlier this year, calling firefighters. Injury reports were absent.

According to the current assessment, “there are no open schools or college buildings where we know of an imminent risk to life.”

According to the DfE’s annual report, “careful monitoring and maintenance can enhance effective life expectancy of buildings.” Trusts, councils, and voluntary-aided educational bodies “principally” get DfE funds.

However, capital budgets underspent by £469 million in 2021-22, “primarily due to slippage of school building programmes driven by tough problems in the construction market.”

In 2020-21, school condition allocations were £1.83 billion; in 2021-22, they were £1.74 billion.

The DfE stated spending on the priority schools building programme reduced due to “gradual completion” of projects.

Last week, Schools Week reported that more than half of the schools nominated for rebuilds due to “imminent closure” were not selected for the latest school rebuilding program.

The National Education Union’s joint national secretary, Kevin Courtney, branded the risks “another syndrome of a short-sighted administration” and demanded the identities of the at-risk institutions. Since 2010, school capital investment has dropped.

Bridget Phillipson, shadow education secretary, said the education secretary must state where the buildings are and “when they’re going to be fixed.”

More exam misery and gaps in vulnerable help—DfE discloses its fears

Despite more financing, assisting high-needs students is one of the department’s “major” concerns.

Local authorities’ financial viability is threatened by the mounting SEND and AP shortage.

Another government issue is a “loss in public faith in the fairness of exams”. Last October, the risk level increased to “crisis.”

It claims “disruption to education,” “widening disparities in attendance for test cohorts,” “reduced student and worker attendance,” or delegated authority decisions to cancel or implement extra measures could reduce confidence.

This may prompt “calls for the government to cancel tests, widen the scope of existing adjustments, or introduce a discriminatory approach to grading”.

Cyber-security and rising attainment gaps are also concerns, as are children from disadvantaged, vulnerable, or specific locations not recovering from Covid.

Vulnerable children’s attendance, especially “cannot be explained by directly allowed Covid-19 related absences,” is another problem.

“Insufficiently targeted to fulfil the needs of vulnerable children and young people,” notably those in special/alternative provision settings, is a risk of the education recovery package.

Summary of today’s construction news

Overall, we discussed how construction has begun on tens of thousands of apartments and houses in Addiscombe’s tower blocks. A short stroll will bring you to the “poor man’s Manhattan” neighbourhood, which is close to East Croydon Station. The development of the neighbourhood may be seen in the Victorian homes that now back onto skyscrapers, notably Croydon’s newest and tallest building.

Meanwhile, Cartwright Pickard’s first completed project, Murray Grove, now Shepherdess Walk, still serves as an example of “modern means of construction” following a return visit. Two buildings at Murray Grove, which is located around 500 metres east-west from the Old Street junction in London, were the first to use two different prefabricated construction technologies in the city.

In addition, the construction of the new Ashley Down train station will begin early in the upcoming year and be completed in 2024. The new YTL Arena station will be located on the line between Temple Meads and Filton Abbey Wood.

On top of that, the collapse of school buildings is included as one of six “serious hazards” in today’s annual report from the Department of Education. The research states, “Some schools are at or near the end of their designed life-expectancy, and structural integrity has deteriorated, which poses a danger of collapse of one or more blocks.”

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