Benson Elliot & Londonewcastle

Vicarage Field will create a new  retail, restaurant and leisure destination for East London, to include a 6-8 screen cinema and 300-capacity music venue, together with up to 855 high quality homes, a 150-room hotel, enterprise workspace for start-up businesses, a healthcare facility, a three-form entry primary school and extensive public realm and green space.

The existing mono functional shopping centre sits on a prominent 5-acre plot in Barking Town Centre between Barking Station and the Barking Central.  

The site owner Benson Elliot, together with development managers Londonewcastle appointed SEW to develop a design for a mixed use to make Barking Town Centre a more desirable destination for shopping, leisure and living.

A series of low to medium rise buildings define the edge of the site in response to the character of the existing 2 to 3 storey brick faced buildings. The rhythm and materiality of these buildings provides a fine grain to the existing street frontage which is reminiscent of many traditional high streets throughout London. 

A cluster or family of 5 buildings are located at the centre of the site where the heights increase to a high point of 36 storeys. This family of buildings have a more expressive form which appears to land with sculptural legs that root the buildings to the site and allow for the retail and leisure spaces to weave in and out of the base of the buildings above. The rooting of the buildings allows the upper floor uses to feel connected with the street below and creates a strong sense of identity for the buildings above.

The name Vicarage Field has is derived from the sites history as a piece of agricultural land associated with the vicarage. The romance of reviving the sites agricultural spirit excites us, and we propose injecting a sense of countryside back into what has become an urban setting. We aim to achieve a strong urban farming presence through thoughtful integration of edible planting, growing gardens and rainwater harvesting. Harnessing this grow your own spirit is fundamental to creating an attitude of participation and ownership throughout the development. 

The multi-layered landscape will tie the mix of uses together and create a distinctive identity inspired by field patterns that link the development to the agricultural history of the site. 

Peter Cornforth, director of retail at Benson Elliot, said: “This is an exciting milestone for our redevelopment plans, which we believe will support the creation of a vibrant town centre in Barking. We’ve been greatly encouraged by the positive feedback we’ve received from local communities and the Council and we look forward to continuing to work with them to make this project a reality,”