Scheme in Old Kent Road Opportunity Area will deliver 688 student beds and 23 affordable homes

Members of Southwark Council’s Planning Committee have approved TP Bennett-designed proposals for a 34-storey student-housing tower on the site of a business park in the borough’s Old Kent Road Opportunity Area.

At their meeting last night four members of the panel voted to back the plans, drawn up for developer Joseph Homes. One councillor abstained. There were no votes against.

In addition to the student housing, which is a mix of studios and clusters of apartments with up to eight bedrooms, the scheme features around 1,990sq m of employment space and 23 affordable homes for social rent in a seven-storey shoulder block. It will also delvier a new public square.

TP Bennett’s proposals are a reworking of an earlier scheme for the Sylvan Grove site that HTA Design created for Joseph Homes. Those proposals, which were approved in January last year, featured 219 homes and 2,986sq m of commercial workspace in a 32-storey tower and a five-storey block.

Joseph Homes decided not to progress the scheme because of viability concerns related to “significant increases in build costs” and changes to Building Regulations and Fire Guidance requiring the inclusion second staircases in buildings above 18m in height.

TPB Sylvan Grove 1

TP Bennett’s proposals for Sylvan Grove in Southwark. The tower will feature 688 student rooms, the shoulder building will contain 23 affordable homes with either three or four bedrooms

Recommending TP Bennett’s Sylvan Grove proposals for approval, planning officers said the scheme’s appearance drew on the industrial heritage of the area and incorporated part of an existing warehouse on the Daisy Business Park into its lowest levels. It will serve as the primary entrance to the commercial element of the development.

“The development is similar in appearance to the extant permission, however due to the alteration from residential to PBSA, external balconies have been removed, which has subsequently reduced the extent of articulation and depth across the façade,” officers said.

Nevertheless, they concluded that TP Bennett’s design was still “high quality” and would “significantly improve the site” in the context of the surrounding area.

After last night’s meeting TP Bennett principal director Nenad Manasijevic said the proposals, which are targeting a BREEAM “excellent” rating, would provide high-quality student homes.

HTA Sylvan Grove 1

HTA’s approved 32-storey proposals for Sylvan Grove

“This is a typology that has been recently overlooked but is in high demand,” he said. “The mixed-use nature of the scheme will allow residents to join together and take ownership of their living quarters. Providing communal and outdoor space is an essential part of this, fostering a sense of community and creating a dynamic environment that goes beyond traditional student housing norms.”

Joseph Homes chief executive officer Joseph Rajah said 11,000 students were currently living in private housing in Southwark and the Sylvan Grove development would “help free up much-needed family housing and contribute to London’s acute affordable housing need”.

Joseph Homes’ project team includes planning consultant Rolfe Judd, structural engineer Civic Engineers, MEP consultant Introba, and landscape architect OOBE.

The Planning Committee’s decision will now be referred to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

TPB Sylvan Grove 5

Source: Southwark Council

The Sylvan Grove site currently houses low-rise warehouse buildings where the Daisy Business Park is based.