Tue 29th May 2012, 12:08 pm
Croydon’s landmark Nestlé tower could find a new life as housing for the influx of new homeowners expected to move into Croydon town centre.
The multi-national Kit-Kat producer announced earlier this year that it was heading to Crawley, leaving behind its aging 120,000sq ft of office space.
Now it looks possible that the tower block could benefit from plans by Croydon Council to encourage conversions from offices to residential under its intention to see 7,300 new homes built in the town centre through its Opportunity Area Planning Framework (OAPF).
The plans were discussed at the Live Croydon Housing Seminar held at Croydon College on Tuesday 22 May, when more than 100 delegates joined local and industry experts to discuss the opportunities for future housing projects in the borough.
During a panel session on the financial and environmental benefits of conversions, Live Croydon chairman Robert Gordon Clark, Executive Chairman of the London Communications Agency, asked Daren Nathan, director of Durkan - the company behind the successful conversion of Lening House to the Bauhaus residential development – whether he would be willing to take on a similar project for the Nestlé building.
“Do I think it would work? – yes,” said Daren. “Its location, mass and size would certainly mean it had the potential to be viable, although we’d have to look at the building’s floor plates, structure plans and utilities, etc, to consider it properly.
“However, our experience on Bauhaus was very positive and Croydon is the only London borough seriously considering and pushing conversions as a way forward.”
He was supported by Charles Holland, director of FAT Architecture who has been carrying out research into how to convert office blocks to residential homes as well as shops, schools and other public amenities such as libraries and GP surgeries.
“The Nestlé building would certainly be an interesting one to try to apply our research to,” he said. “Its landmark status within Croydon is very important so looking to revitalise that and find something that is an exciting opportunity out of this office space seems a great opportunity from an architectural point of view.”
Other topics discussed at the seminar included the plans outlined in the OAPF for around 20,000 residents to move into 7,300 new homes in Croydon town centre over the next 20 years.
In order to ensure its vision is delivered, the council is offering significant incentives to housing developers, including a promise of a zero-rated Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – the new tax on development intended to take over from Section 106 agreements.
Speakers, who included Croydon Council’s chief executive Jon Rouse, Berkeley Homes director Harry Lewis, the GLA’s head of area housing and land, Simon Powell and Places for People director Mary Parsons, also discussed the £23m granted by Boris Johnson which will be spent on improving how Croydon looks as well as how planning frameworks could be used to encourage development, along with changes in funding opportunities.