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Real homes: inside an Eric Lyons span apartment

I'm a little bit obsessed with the architect Eric Lyons' work. The 1968-built house I live in is my local authority's version of his celebrated (and now listed) 1950s designs for Span Developments.

If you were a fan of the BBC's Great Interior Design Challenge a few months back, you'll have seen the kitchen makeovers the contestants did on the kitchens in a Span development.

The characteristics of a Span development include large windows and lots of green space – the idea was to build a houses and flats within gardens and to exclude cars. It was all about the homes feeling connected to nature. My own copy-cat house has incredible wall-to-wall windows (which makes up for the frames having been replaced with uPVC before my time) and is one of a set of properties built around a large communal green with lots of trees. Access is via a quiet, cobbled mews (stuffed, of course, with cars). It still ticks lots of the boxes though, and how brilliant that the council took such care with the design when so much social housing built in that era was positively inhuman: tiny windows, Kafka-esque corridors, poky rooms.

But I'm digressing. The stunning flat you are now looking at is at Eric Lyons' Grade II Listed Parkleys development in Ham, just outside south west London and built by Span in the mid-1950s.

And it's currently for sale... £355,000 will buy you two bedrooms, one bathroom, a living / dining room, a kitchen (ohmygod, the kitchen! See below...) and an external storage room plus additional shared space to keep bikes or buggies.

Parkleys is one of the first of the Span developments.

Love the use of glass panels to boost light inside the flat. I've already restored the original windowlights (the ones above the doors) in my place, as the glass had been replaced by boards. But now I'm looking at this and wondering which entire walls I could have in glass too – despite all the windows, our hallway is constantly gloomy... Sadly I think all the walls in that part of the house are doing important supporting jobs. Ah well. 

This reminds me of the stunning original kitchens in another modernist flat near the Barbican that I wrote about last year, designed by boat-builders in order to be compact. This woodwork is spectacular – what incredible draining boards... And that's not something you get to say very often.

Find out more about this property at

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