The Twentieth Century is delighted that the High Court has quashed a plan by Lambeth Council to demolish up to 300 homes on the Cressingham Gardens Estate in South London. Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing ruled that the Council’s decision of 9 March 2015 was unlawful because it had curtailed the consultation with residents about options for refurbishing the estate. This would have left demolition – either partial or complete – as the only possibility.
Cressingham Gardens was built between 1967 and 1979 by Lambeth Borough Architects under the leadership of Edward Hollamby, who also designed the estate’s eye-catching sunken Rotunda. We believe this is an impressive development in terms of the high standard and variety of its accommodation – a well-planned mixture of bungalows, flats and maisonettes. The overall design is simple, utilises good quality materials and integrates the estate with the adjoining Brockwell Park.
C20 supported the 2013 listing application for the estate, and we were disappointed that this was turned down. The campaign to save Cressingham Gardens has also received backing from Save Britain’s Heritage and the Brixton Society, and it has generated an active social media campaign.
The estate’s residents have been battling the Council’s plans for three years, with 86 per cent favouring repairs to their homes over the prospect of demolition and rehousing. However, with local authorities under huge pressure to meet the demand for new housing, it is believed that Lambeth Council allowed the estate to deteriorate in order to strengthen the case for demolition. In court it admitted that residents’ feedback was either downplayed or omitted from its proposals. It failed to provide evidence that repairs were unaffordable.
Lambeth Council has been granted leave to appeal this decision. It is now preparing a new report on options for the estate and will hold meetings and consult with residents and other stakeholders.
Despite the challenges presented by the current housing shortage, we don’t believe that destroying good architecture and settled, safe communities is the right approach here. Councils should explore sensitive infill options for increasing density on architecturally distinguished social housing developments, or build on brownfield sites.
For further information see the Save Cressingham Gardens blog.