Plans in for Dolphin Square makeover

By James Buckley - Monday, February 12, 2018 16:22

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US investor Westbrook Partners has formally lodged plans to overhaul the famous Dolphin Square Estate in London’s Pimlico, enlisting architect Eric Parry to “secure the site for the next 100 years”.

The plans will see an additional 309 flats built on the site with the demolition and reconstruction of Rodney House to the north of the estate, as well as a new row of 16 townhouses.

The Dolphin Square Estate is home to over 2,500 people and is the UK’s largest private residential rented apartment block. The estate is owned by The Dolphin Square Estate Limited and managed by Westbrook. Since acquiring the Site in 2006, Westbrook has invested more than £40m in a comprehensive maintenance and improvement programme. However, at 80 years old, much of the fabric and structure of the building is out of date and in need of significant investment.

The purpose of the proposed development and the brief to Eric Parry Architects, is to produce a vision to secure the future of the site for the next 100 years.

The comprehensive refurbishment of Dolphin Square will see the reconfiguration of the existing flats, plus the development of a nine-storey building with 2 basement levels to replace Rodney House which will include 78 flats on levels one and six to nine, as well as 204 Serviced Apartments;

Refurbishing and reconfiguring the existing flats to will provide more studios, one bedroom and two bedroom units, amounting to an additional 27 flats.

More than 400 local stakeholders were engaged through public consultation events at Dolphin Square conducted over a nine-month period between May 2017 and January 2018.

The site on which Dolphin Square currently sits comprised the former Army Clothing Factory which closed circa 1933. After the First World War, there was a significant need for new housing in the Pimlico area. The original plans for what became Dolphin Square conceived the estate as a novel, inclusive way of living in central London for people who wanted to live close to their work.

Once the project was handed over to Richard Costain Limited, the company appointed the architect, Gordon Jeeves, which submitted plans to the LCC in 1935 for a high class, modern residential complex. At the insistence of the funders, Lloyds Bank, the development was built in two phases. The southern part was completed in December 1936, consisting of eight Houses. At this time, Dolphin Square Limited was established to facilitate the management of the property.

With the southern part of the Estate completed, the Developer, Costain realised there was a significant demand for smaller furnished rooms with bathrooms attached and changed the plans for the northern part of the development. Delays in construction resulting from “the great difficulty of obtaining materials” ensued before the northern part was finally completed in December 1938.

For 80 years, the estate has attracted a diverse range of residents from actors, taxi drivers and military personnel to businessmen and women, barristers and MPs. Over time, the estate has been variously modified and adapted including as a result of damage sustained during the blitz, when twelve people died.

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