Marklake Court welcomes its first residents
The flagship Marklake Court development is welcoming its first residents this week, as they begin to move in to the 27 new homes that have been created to form part of an existing, thriving community in Bermondsey, south east London.
Marklake Court is a new community-led development of 27 council rent homes (flats and maisonettes) on the Kipling Estate near London Bridge. It represents an entirely ground-up approach to providing housing for social rent. The project demonstrates a unique model for the construction of new housing, delivered in partnership by the local community and the local authority.
In 2014, 12 under-utilised garages on the Kipling Estate were identified by the Kipling Tenants and Residents Association (TRA) as a potential development site and quickly became the focus of the Leathermarket Community Benefit Society’s (CBS’s) activities. This infill site was ideal as it was small, within the Leathermarket Joint Management Board’s (JMB’s) management area and closely bordering the homes of existing residents.
The project began as a blank sheet of paper but became a true collaboration as at each stage of the design development – which took place over a period of more than 12 months – the team developed designs with residents, listened and collected comments, then demonstrated how the designs responded to this community feedback.
Through the project, the CBS addressed local housing needs through a focus on “right-sizing” homes. This meant that JMB residents living in properties too big for their needs were prioritised, giving them the opportunity to “right-size” whilst simultaneously freeing up larger properties for other families in need.
To incentivise downsizing, prospective residents were given the opportunity to customise their own flats by choosing open or closed plan kitchens and the finishes for their own bathrooms, kitchens, floors and walls. Every aspect of the build was discussed in detail with new residents; from window sizes to finishes, to the nature of communal spaces. Through this process the existing community was brought together and strengthened, ensuring that residents would already know their neighbours even before they moved in.
igloo Community Builders was selected by the CBS as a development manager to inform its approach and guide the team through each step of the development. Kym Shaen-Carter, development manager for igloo Community Builders, said: “Communities know their area best and know what is needed. Developing new homes in this way strengthens the sense of community, increasing social cohesion, ownership and pride in an area. By empowering community-led development more genuinely affordable homes can be delivered that seamlessly knit into the surrounding neighbourhoods.”
John Paul Maytum, resident chairman of Leathermarket CBS, said: “Involving residents right from a blank sheet of paper at the very start has enabled us to get the very best outcome for this site, while delivering as many homes as possible to meet acute housing need.
“Residents are much happier than with the traditional development approach, because they’ve shaped the design, from the size and layout of the building right down to choosing brick colours and the interiors of flats. Maintaining residents’ trust in this way allows us to open up sites that the council couldn’t do on its own and really tackle the pressing need for new council-rent homes in this area. We’re delighted that Southwark Council has given the vision, commitment and practical support to make this scheme a shining example of what new council house building can achieve when it embraces a spirit of true partnership with residents.”