You propose to significantly increase delivery space – can you prove that there is a demand for all this extra space?
We have waiting lists for nearly every area of our work. When we look at the needs in the local community (e.g. number of unemployed, number of adults without any qualifications, number of young people living in crowded conditions), we are clear that there are many more people locally who could benefit from our programmes.
Why are you doing this now, when we need services, not buildings?
We started this process prior to the Grenfell Tower Fire and have already postponed it for several years. In January 2020 our board approved us proceeding to planning permission. When the lockdown started we considered whether we should pause the project but we are conscious that this community will need our services more than ever in the coming years so we feel we have a duty to press ahead with the project and support as many people as we can.
The Winter Garden seems to be a bit of an extravagance – can you justify it?
The Winter Garden will occupy a space that is barely used on the site but will provide a large versatile space that can be used for a range of purposes, including informal meetings, events and large workshops. There is currently nowhere indoors on-site that parents can wait whilst their children finish at homework club or students can meet between classes etc. in poor weather – this space will address that need.
What is the additional cost of staffing and running all this extra space? Can you afford this extra cost?
We’ve calculated the extra provision and because we already have a back-office function and management team in place, we only need to employ extra delivery staff. This will mean our budget growing from £1.1m to £1.3m a year – great value for significantly increasing our support to the community.
How do you ensure that the new buildings do not change your welcoming culture?
The staff team and the garden have always set the tone for our welcoming culture. We have ensured that the design revolves around the garden and the needs of the community that we serve.
Will you rent out space to local groups?
We don’t anticipate renting on a commercial basis as our current policy is to rent out space to local groups at a community rate.
How much more footfall and car usage will this enlarged Centre bring?
There will be increased footfall, but people are always surprised at how many people use the Centre now – as the street and the site never feel busy, with most people commenting on how quiet and calm the Centre is. We don’t anticipate this changing. All staff and nearly all users of the Centre travel to the Centre on foot or by public transport as we serve the local area do we don’t envisage any strain on parking once the building work is finished.
Will you look to sell the building after the works?
Absolutely not. We have served this community for 40 years and the reason we want to extend the building is so that we can serve the community for may decades to come. We will be needed more than ever in the coming years. The land belongs to the Diocese of London.
Are you going to lose the garden? What about the lovely trees – are they going to be kept?
The plants will need to be relocated during the building works, but the gardener has already started planning for this. We will be replacing the silver birch and the eucalyptus tree (both of which grow very quickly).
What do the Church and the new vicar think of the plans?
They are very supportive of the plans as the parish will greatly benefit from the increased space and in particular the Winter Garden.
Aren’t you going to ruin what is great about CJ by becoming too big and too corporate?
We have grown steadily over the past 20 years and have not lost that home-from-home feel. Our warm welcome is at the core of our offer and we plan to keep this as we grow further. It’s the key to our success.
When will you start building?
Not until we have raised the money for the build and have Planning Permission and Faculty Approval. We don’t anticipate this being within the next year.
What will happen to the services when you are building? Are you considering temporary accommodation for some programmes?
We have considered this and we will still be able to deliver many of our services in the main building whilst construction takes place. The few services that we are not able to deliver will be temporarily relocated to the Church and other local spaces.
We will carry out a risk assessment prior to the use of any additional space, ensuring the safety of our staff and users.
Will I still be able to drop-in, or would I need to have an appointment?
We will ensure that reception is accessible for people to drop-in, throughout the building work.
How much noise will all of this make, and for how long?
We are currently in the design phase, so estimating precisely how long and how noisy the works might be is a very tough question to answer at this stage. We do however recognise that building works can be disruptive. It is our ambition and in our interest that these works are carried out efficiently and with as little disruption to the community and our programmes as possible.
To achieve this the design team will consider offsite construction techniques, and prefabrication, to minimise disruptions. We are also committed to appointing a Contractor that is a member of the Considerate Constructors Scheme, a not-for-profit, independent organisation created in 1997 that is committed to raising standards in the construction industry. More information about this scheme and their codes of conduct can be found at https://www.ccscheme.org.uk. At its core the scheme codes stipulate that “Constructors should give utmost consideration to their impact on neighbours and the public”. The organisation also monitors sites to ensure they are compliant.
As to how long the works will take, we currently estimate it will be approximately a year on site. Construction programmes will be closely scrutinised at the tender return stage to ensure the right Considerate Contractor is selected.
What impact will the construction have on local traffic?
As we have previously stated, we are committed to minimising disruption to the local community where we can. However we recognise that construction works will introduce added strain on the local road network albeit for a temporary period of time. In order to minimise this disruption, we have consulted the Council’s planning department to ensure that we follow best practice.
As such, we asked the local community to assist our team in the preparation of the Draft Construction Traffic Management Plan because we recognise that local people understand the local context and can provide constructive and valuable insight on how best to carry out a development.
It will be a condition that the Final Construction Management Project responds to any community feedback we or the Council have received. This will be completed by the successfully appointed Considerate Contractor prior to works commencing on site. It is therefore crucial that anyone who has concerns or helpful suggestions on construction traffic provides feedback to The ClementJames Centre and/or the Council’s planning department, so we know about these issues.
Does traffic to and from 95 Sirdar Road allow for one-way streets?
Following feedback from the local community we have updated our route out of 95 Sirdar Road.
We have double-checked the routes in and out of site and have amended them to allow for traffic in one-way streets and roundabouts.
We welcome any other feedback you may have. This is why we value the local community input.
What is the scheme?
The project consists of three key elements: the Learning Annexe, the contemplative Community Garden and the multipurpose Winter Garden. The scheme as a whole is as much about the landscape and the spaces in between as it is about the buildings.
We believe this holistic approach will enhance the ability of the Centre to deliver frontline services in a variety of setting both internally and externally and in all weathers. This flexibility is particularly relevant in a world where social distancing is required.
What are the materials that are used?
A detail of the materials proposed can be found here. Through consultation with the Council’s planning department, we have developed a natural palette that is sympathetic to the surrounding buildings.
We propose that the Learning Annexe is comprised of complimentary brickwork and the roof a dark grey zinc. The Winter Garden is to use timber, glass and lightweight columns of either timber, steel or spun concrete. The landscape and covered walkway are to be natural in look and feel, utilising timber and planting.
What does the project represent architecturally?
For the architects team Freehaus this is a project of immense significance. Not only does it represent five years of development and detailed collaboration, it is also a wonderful example of the role that sensitive architecture can play to support charitable activities, unlock potential and bring moments of joy to those who use it.
It is a fabulous brief and one that Freehaus is dedicated to deliver successfully and joyfully down to the finest of details.
What is the Learning Annexe?
The Learning Annexe is a contemporary two-storey building fronting Sirdar Road. Its design seeks to compliment the rhythm of the adjacent terrace houses whilst creating a meaningful welcome.
The North facade orientated towards the courtyard draws upon the typology of the local Victorian outrigger, a broken form that reduces the impact and allows for greater daylight to reach the courtyard beyond. This is intended to soften the abrupt end to the existing terrace and the austere boundary wall.
What is the Community Garden?
The Community Garden is bounded by a covered walkway designed to be a contemplative space and one where all are welcome.
From a functional perspective, the covered walkway links all the learning facilities doing away with the need for an internal corridor that is inefficient and costly. This also allows us to create more generous reaching spaces within a reduced building footprint. This also maximises the Garden area and provides shelter in adverse weather.
The roof of the covered walkway will have a biodiverse planting that can be seen from the first-floor level. It also serves to replace the landscape lost from the original garden footprint and incorporates SuDs – A Sustainable Drainage System.
What is the Winter Garden?
The Winter Garden is a multi-function space designed for year-round use. In effect, it is an external space with a lid on it. It is not an internal room. This space will alleviate pressure on the existing courtyard and can be used in any weather. The design is purposefully light touch respecting the features and needs of the adjacent Church and residential boundary to the west.
Consideration of privacy, light, and architectural significance are all factors in the design.
How much of the existing garden has been lost?
Nothing would you believe! The existing garden extends to 399sqm and we propose 399sqm of new community space. So how did we achieve this given the footprint of the new Learning Annexe is 111sqm?
We first created the Winter Garden. This has provided 96sqm of additional external space that is currently used for circulation. The new Learning Annexe then replaces two existing temporary structures.
We introduced an external covered walkway as a circulatory mechanism to reduce internal corridors at ground-floor level and to give it a dual purpose. The covered walkway provides access to classrooms but extends the garden boundary. We have added seating and planting in this zone to tie to the landscape. The planted covered walkway also allows the space underneath to be used all year round. This reduced the potential footpring of the Learning Annexe building by 74sqm.
We introduced two external teaching niches at first-floor level that overlook the new covered walkway. This provides a further 15sqm of external elevated teaching space within the new scheme.
So the total area of the Community Garden proposed is still 399sqm. We have, however, gone one step further and introduced a planted roof to the covered walkway that greens and softens the perimeter. Not only will this addition provide added biodiversity, it is also critical to our sustainable drainage solution.
In order to create a positive addition to the local context, it has been crucial for us to also consider the impact of the proposal on others. In consultation with the Council’s planning department and the Church of England we have sought to address concerns that may arise as a result of noise, overlooking and pollution through two rounds of pre-planning consultation with the Council’s planning department.
We also held an online public consultation to share out plans for the site development. Public consultation for the project was publicised through various channels in order to reach the widest audience possible, including:
- Installation of banners outside the buildings on Sirdar Road and Treadgold Street
- Distribution of 500 leaflets to neighbouring residents
- Email distribution to the wider community, local groups, and stakeholders
- A dedicated community consultation website with detailed information, drawings and plans