Why have you set up an architects department in Croydon? Should others follow suit?
We have a set up an internal architecture practice in Croydon that will focus on ‘clienting’ design input to Brick by Brick, the council’s new independent development company established in 2016, and directly delivering design work on a growing number of infill development opportunities. The practice is deliberately small, currently three full-time architects, and is a response to the varied opportunities created by a large delivery programme with projects of various scales. In Croydon we were lucky enough to have qualified architects within our existing staff team with great experience in private practice. We have also had an excellent response from private practice architects to subsequent campaigns for additional staff. Having the practice allows us to deliver work we would otherwise commission in a more commercial way (their recharge rates are in keeping with external practices and there is the potential to trade more widely in future), and also to drive a great deal of architectural quality into even the smallest of jobs. It’s definitely a model I would recommend for other authorities.
Prior to joining Croydon, Jo Negrini was Director of Regeneration at Lambeth, then Chief Borough Planning Officer at Newham, where she was responsible for establishing Newham’s Design Review Panel.
Jo Negrini, Chief Executive, London Borough of Croydon