Gleeson is these days associated with (and held responsible for) a large number of unimaginative modern cul-de-sac developments across the UK. However, whilst flat hunting for my dad, I came across two interesting Gleeson-designed properties built in the seventies which suggest that things weren’t always this way.
Homefield Park, Sutton
Year Built: 1970s
I still like this 1970s development in spite of its obvious shortcomings, including its almost complete lack of conventional aesthetic appeal. It is made up of two blocky, medium-rise 5 storey phases, one is yellow brick and the other red brick which gives the development a slightly Lego-ish appearance.
If you look close enough, there are some nice design features. Some of the flats have sturdy brick-walled balconies coming off the bedrooms and there are some well conceived (if very much of the time) recessed communal seating areas dotted about the development. I’m also quite fond of the covered areas, supported by pillars, around some of the entrances and the (very 1970s) ornamental rock features.
Unfortunately, from what I’ve seen, the interiors of the flats are decidedly less interesting than the exterior of the development. The ceiling heights throughout are extremely ungenerous and some of the flats have almost no views whatsoever, facing onto other bits of the development or in some unfortunate cases, into other peoples’ windows. Room sizes are reasonably generous but layouts are a mixed bag (there’s a particularly odd L-shaped configuration in a lot of the flats). The best flats must be those which face out into Grove Road with those aforementioned walled balconies (but I haven’t managed to get myself into one of those- they don’t tend to come up for sale very often).
It’s affordable to live in this Lego development though prices have risen: a standard two-bed is about £260k at the moment (compared to about £220k a year ago). There is a supposedly “deluxe” 5th-floor 2-bedroom flat on the market for £350k but this has been on the market for over a year, which suggests that this price is wildly optimistic.
Glyndale Grange, Sutton
Year Built: 1970s
This row of bungalows, set back from the main road in a quiet cul-de-sac was reportedly built around the same time as Homefield Park. There are a number of identifiable similarities between the two, including the attractive radiators, 1970s styling and unfortunately, head-grazingly low ceilings.
The 2-bedroom bungalow that I viewed was in pretty much its original state with its original wooden kitchen, internal doors and wooden built-in wardrobes intact. It had a neat garden to the rear, its own garage and some loft space underneath its pitched roof but the overall impression it gave was that it was small (due in part to the low ceiling height). The vendor of this bungalow was leaving behind some attractive pieces of mid-century furniture, including some Poul Cadovius shelving,a chest of drawers and a lovely wall-mounted mirror and coat stand combo. The price was an affordable £350k – not bad for a freehold property with its own small patch of land.