Broad Green could have a new community garden and café-pavilion, if the Council gives the green light to the Zodiac development’s proposals. The plans, which can be viewed here, will transform the hard-landscaped forecourt of Zodiac Court, at 161-165 London Road, into ‘Broad Green Common’, opening up the space to visitors and passers-by.
Zodiac Court, the landmark brutalist office and apartment building on London Road, Croydon, is currently being transformed from a vacant 1960s office block into flats by development company Common Projects. A large part of the site is the forecourt, built on the historic Broad Green House site and its formal gardens. Today, there is no trace of this history – it is an underused and alienating landscape, most recently home to the Rosa Parked café, which has become a hub for several local community groups and has been heavily involved with the design process for the new garden.
The proposal has been put together in collaboration with local grant-making organisation Big Local Broad Green, which has funded close to 50 West Croydon groups and projects since it started in 2016. Once the planning application is approved by the Council, Common, landscape designer Planit-IE and Big Local Broad Green will progress the designs further with local people, jointly deciding what the gardens should contain and how the space can best serve its community. For example, it could contain a play area, food-growing spaces, perhaps an outdoor gym, with space in the pavilion used by local community groups for events and classes.
Steve Sanham, Founding Director, Common Projects, says: “We’ve really valued the time we’ve been able to spend with the local community, coordinated by Big Local Broad Green, to come up with the proposals for this space – it’s the kind of partnership which is so needed for major developments to be able to contribute positively to their local area. We plan to bring a ‘common’ back to Broad Green on the site of a former formal gardens, creating a new setting for Zodiac Court, and a new focal point on London Road for the Broad Green community. We are hopeful that the council will be able to consider the planning application quickly, and give us the green light so we see them become a reality.”
Queenie Chizea, Co-Chair & Steering Group Member, Big Local Broad Green, says: ““Broad Green is rich in history, riddled with character and full of so much potential. I’m excited to see the growth and regeneration of the Broad Green area with the birth of a space that will serve as a modern safe, green, welcoming positive and friendly space for locals, and we are so proud here at Big Local Broad Green to be able to support what will serve as a Legacy in the Broad Green ward of Croydon.”
From Ella Flint, shedkm project lead: “shedkm adopts a people-first approach to all designs, creating vibrant neighbourhoods with long-term social and environmental sustainability and bringing buildings and spaces back into meaningful use. We’re excited by the prospect of Broad Green creating a vital new green space for people in Croydon to enjoy, and we look forward to re-using our timber pavilion structure for community space and a cafe – which would have otherwise remained unused.”
Dominic Fitzsimmons, Principal Landscape Architect, Planit-IE, says: “Whilst working with Common to help revitalise this area of Croydon, we understood the desire from the local community to re-instate some much-needed greenery and a sense of joyfulness. When we researched the history of the area, we were really excited to discover that the forecourt space was once a beautiful walled garden. Putting the ‘green’ back in Broad Green was key to the designs that have come forward. Now we are keen to listen to the thoughts of local people and to incorporate these as the design develops.
The four-floor office element of Zodiac Court has been empty since the 1960s and the building as a whole, while a striking modernist design, was in need of a significant restoration after years of neglect. Avoiding the huge environmental impact of demolishing the existing building to deliver something brand-new, Common Projects and its socially-responsive architect, shedkm are instead expertly redesigning it into apartments for local first-time buyers. As part of the strategy to re-use what is already built, Common has sourced the timber pavilion for the forecourt café from a development by Urban Splash in Cambridge; the pavilion, in almost-new condition, was designed by shedkm as a marketing suite but was no longer needed.
Local residents are being invited to show their support for the new garden and pavilion by leaving comments online, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org