Lambeth architects | Residential architect projects

At GOAStudio London residential architecture we have extensive experience working with the Lambeth planning department and as your Lambeth residential architect we are familiar with all the relevant planning policies that might apply for your home project.

Please see below links to some of our Lambeth residential architect projects for ideas and inspiration.

Your brief requirements, the setting of the property, and the immediate context of the property are some of the factors that will determine what home alterations the Lambeth planners will be prepared to allow.

We will advise you about what is reasonable to expect to get approval, what might be tricky but possible, and what most likely the planners will say no to.

According to the 2015 Lambeth Building Alterations & Extensions Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) these are some of the key considerations that will determine the outcome of your planning application.

Below we have copied and highlighted extracts of the most relevant current policy and advice for your home project.



Summary planning and design guide | Lambeth residential architect advice

Rear Extensions — Closet Returns

Many early/mid 19th century buildings originally had flat rear elevations. Where these survive unaltered on heritage assets they are generally considered worthy of preservation. Many other early/mid 19th century properties have historic ‘closet additions’ on their rear elevation – these often date from the 19th century. and are associated with ‘standard’ plan properties with rear staircases.

The closet addition generally comes off the stairwell at half-landing level (the stairwell window becomes a doorway) and is generally about the same width off the stairwell itself. Closet returns are generally no deeper than they are wide; and because they are at half landing level their roofs terminate a half storey below the main roof. Their combined mass and height generally make them subordinate to their host building. On heritage assets their loss will be resisted.

Where new closet returns are considered acceptable (amenity and outlook will be key considerations). Policy Q11 (c) requires that they follow the established local pattern. Additional floors to existing closet returns may be acceptable if there is no harm to amenity and if they terminate half a storey below eaves. On heritage assets the acceptability of extending will be judged on a case-by-case basis based on the asset and its context.

Rear Extensions — Returns

Rear returns are common on buildings in Lambeth from the mid to late 19th century. They were seen as preferable to providing habitable basement accommodation which had been formerly common. Therefore it is unusual for properties with purpose-built semi-basements to have rear returns; they tend to have closet returns instead. The return is typically linear in form and projects at right angles from the rear elevation. They vary greatly depending on the age and scale of the property, from modest single storey structures to those with the same eaves height as their host building.

Subordination is common – a combination of the width, rearward projection and lower roof ridge heights. Rear returns are never full width therefore allowing for windows and doors on the rear elevation of the host building. However, the amount of space retained down the side of the return varies greatly from place to place.

The demolition of rear returns will generally be resisted, particularly on heritage assets. Policy Q11 (d) supports new rear returns where they are characteristic of the building type and locality; subordination is key. Policy Q2 (Amenity) will be a key consideration when considering new returns – especially the impact of party walls on the outlook and amenity of adjoining neighbours.

Rear Returns — Infill, End and Wrap-around Extensions

Alterations to the basic form of the rear return (extending them sideways to be full-width, adding extra storeys, etc.) are likely to be resisted in groups where there is uniformity. Single storey infill extensions (infilling the side space), single storey end extensions (on the end of the return) and wrap-around extensions (combined infill and end) are potentially acceptable, so long as subordination can be achieved and there is no harm to amenity. However, it should be noted that wrap-around extensions are not considered appropriate on heritage assets.

Policy Q11 (e) states that infills should be single storey. The extent of rearward projection beyond the gable end of the return is not specified in policy. However, subordination will still be required and issues of amenity, prevailing character and retention of sufficient garden space will be important considerations. Side spaces are quite narrow and amenity issues (especially daylight and outlook) in relation to adjoining properties will always be an important consideration. Infills should be visually light-weight (mostly glazed) in order to give the return visual primacy. However, end extensions and wrap-arounds may be treated in the same material as the main return. To minimise adverse impact, the party wall of any rear extension should be as low as possible. The fascia and gutters should not overhang onto neighbouring property; for this reason parapet walls with parapet gutters are the recommended option.

Full Width Two Storey Extensions

Policy Q11 (f) states that full-width two-storey extensions will be resisted if they fail to meet the design requirements in policy Q11 (a) (i) or the subordination required in policy Q11 (b). Policy Q2 will also be a key consideration in relation to adjoining neighbours. It should be noted that this policy will be applied to any full width extension of two storeys or above. Design integration with the host building (especially its roof) and the amenity of adjoining properties will be key considerations.

Side Extensions

The space between buildings can be an important characteristic of the street scene and is a key characteristic of many parts of Lambeth; for example in urban areas where development is dense and in suburban areas which rely on generous spacious standards as a key aspect of their spatial character. Side spaces allow for views between buildings and therefore prevent overbearing enclosure along the street front-age. Side spaces also have value as visual amenity and domestic storage areas and allow residents direct access to rear gardens without the need to pass through the property.

On heritage assets, especially in conservation areas, spatial character – the spaces around and between buildings- is generally considered to be an important part of the character and appearance. For this reason the loss of contributory side spaces is likely to be resisted; so too will proposals that imbalance the architectural composition of the host building.

Policy Q2 seeks to protect amenity. The residential amenity of adjoining residents will be a consideration when considering side extensions. Flank windows should not allow overlooking and may have to be frosted or angled. Balconies and roof terraces on flanks will generally be resisted on amenity grounds. Windows, roof eaves, gutters or downpipes should be avoided on party walls (parapet walls are preferred) so that ex-tensions do not intrude on neighbouring properties or restrict their future extension.

Policy Q11 (h) seeks, as a general rule, to retain sufficient side space above ground floor level. It identifies that the minimum retained space should be 1m between the extension and the property boundary. There will be many instances where much more than 1m will be required; especially in areas where side space is important to local character. With heritage assets loss of side space may not be acceptable in principle, where it contributes to the special interest. Side extensions that unacceptably imbalance existing building compositions (especially semi-detached properties) are likely to be unacceptable.

In order to achieve subordination, it may be necessary to set back side extensions on the corners and provide lower roofs. However, in some cases this type of subordination may not be appropriate; the approach will be dependant on the character of the host building and its surroundings. Dummy roof slopes (those concealing a flat roof) should have a sufficient size and pitch to have design integrity in their own right, should be coped with conventional ridge tiles and drain discretely to the rear.

Roof Alterations and Extensions

Lambeth’s roofscape is rich and varied. However, there are a number of key roof forms that are found across the borough.

London roofs: Two pitches normally concealed behind a front parapet and slope into a central valley that drains to the rear. These are common in Lambeth buildings built between 1800 and 1850. London roofs are a key aspect of London’s local distinctiveness. Variations on this type (often running parallel to the façade) are normally always concealed behind parapets and drain to the rear. The absence of front rainwater pipes was a design objective. The basic effect is that these roofs are hardly visible from ground level, therefore reducing the perceived bulk of the building.

Mansard roofs: Typically rise from behind parapets and drain to the rear through concealed rainwater pipes. The absence of front rainwater pipes was a design objective. They typically have four roof pitches—two steep (70 degrees) lower slopes and two shallow (up to 30 degrees) upper slopes. On end properties mansards typically terminate in full gables but can sometimes be half-hipped or fully hipped. Some properties have a double mansard with a central roof valley running parallel to the façade; this feature is rarely discernible from ground level. The dormer heads and internal ceiling height on traditional mansards typically align with the junction between the steep and shallow roof pitches. There are often fewer dormers than windows on each floor below, in order to achieve visual subordination.

Double pitched roofs: Comprise a front pitch and a rear pitch and gabled ends. These can drain to parapet gutters but more commonly have conventional gutters and down pipes.

Hipped roofs: – Comprise front, rear and side roof pitches. Half hipped rooms have a half gable.

Flat roofs: Not common as the main roofs on traditional buildings (up to 1914) but can be found on extensions and closet returns. They look best enclosed by parapet walls. Many of Lambeth’s post Second World War buildings have modern flat roofs.

Chimney stacks are a feature common to most Lambeth properties built before 1939. They are a key aspect of Lambeth’s roofscape. Decorative gables, dormers, hips, turrets, towers and ventilators also add important richness and ornamentation in places.

Policy Q11 (a) requires alterations to be respectful of the character of the existing building. In this respect, the Council will normally resist changes to roofs that would be detrimental to their appearance. Policy Q 11 (b) seeks subordination in extensions. This is essential at roof level, given the visibility and therefore potential wider impact of proposals. The design unity of architectural groups and the prevailing uncluttered character of many roofscapes mean that most roof alterations are best located to the rear. Features such as chimneys and parapet walls should not be removed or
obscured by them.

GOAStudio London residential architecture and interior design is an award-winning practice, specialising in architectural services for residential projects across London.

As your local residential architect our team aims to provide a friendly and professional service for your home project.

Our approach is based on carefully considering the particular aspects of each scheme before coming up with a creative way for you to instil your unique stamp on what we do and how we do it. 

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Architects Registration Board (ARB).

Appoint us for Lambeth residential architect projects in the following areas:

SE1 North Lambeth, South Bank, Waterloo
Kennington, Lambeth
Gipsy Hill
Herne Hill
Tulse Hill, West Norwood
Brixton, Brixton Hill, Streatham Hill
Clapham, Clapham Park
South Lambeth, Vauxhall

 Lambeth residential architect projects

For more information about the Lambeth planning department, policies and requirements please click the link above to be re-directed to Lambeth council website.

Name and origin

Rather satisfyingly, the name means ‘landing place for lambs’, and it’s a shortened version of the earlier Lambehitha (hitha being a common ending for riverside landing places like Rotherhithe). []

Lambeth planning department

You will probably need planning permission if you want to build something new, make a major change to your home – e.g. building an extension, or change the use of your property. There are different rules depending on what you want to do and the relevant planning policy that applies to your property. At GOAStudio we have a proud record of dealing with the local authority planners and building control inspectors and we are on hand to assist with your application and successfully handle every stage of your project.

GOAStudio London residential architecture media opinion publications 2 Lambeth residential architect projects

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Let's chat

If you need expert advice from an RIBA Chartered Architect please email us at with the following:

  • the full address of your property,
  • a couple of photographs showing the areas you would like to extend and renovate,
  • a brief description of the changes you would like to carry out to your home, and
  • any estate agent or similar plans you might have available.

We will

  • assess the information and get back to you with initial advice about what might be feasible,
  • search the public planning records of your local authority to find similar planning approvals nearby,
  • prepare a free consultation to include information on design ideas, architectural fee estimates, project stages and requirements, and
  • afterwards we will prepare a detailed fixed fee proposal to cover the architectural services you will need for your project.

We are here to assist with your project.

We provide architectural services in the following London Boroughs:

Read our design, planning, and architectural guides above if you seek advice for your project.

We can help you with these home extensions and renovations:

See our guides above for ideas, inspiration and architectural advice for your home project.

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We specialise in

  • Greener homes
  • Retrofit and energy efficiency for older and traditional buildings
  • Conservation areas
  • Listed Buildings
  • Homeowner architectural services
  • Developer architectural services

RIBA Chartered architect services


GOAStudio London residential architecture limited, 86-90 Paul Street, EC2A 4NE, Hackney

GOAStudio London residential architecture limited, Chestnut Avenue South, E17 9EJ, Waltham Forest

t: 0203 984 3005


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