Friday18 August 2017

I'll be sad to see Hollamby estates go - but people must come first, says rebuild architect

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Lambeth’s Central Hill and Cressingham Gardens face demolition

The architect behind the redevelopment of the Central Hill estate in south-east London has spoken of his sadness that some of Lambeth’s finest post-war social housing is facing the bulldozer.

Brendan Kilpatrick, joint MD of housing specialist PRP, said many of the borough’s estates had “architectural merit”.

But he defended his firm’s plans, saying providing decent housing had to trump any other concerns.

“There is a cultural loss of housing of that nature, but the over-riding need to rehouse people living in substandard conditions has to outweigh the cultural value of keeping estates which are not listable,” he said. “For me that has to be the litmus test.”

To me, it’s the atmosphere of the place. The reflection of the sky and trees on the smoked balcony glass is wonderful.  When the wind blows on a summer’s evening and you look along the flats hugging the contours of the hill, it could be a modern Italian hill town.

Central Hill resident, interviewed by the Twentieth Century Society

Lambeth said it is still reviewing how much of Central Hill can be retained. But it is almost certain that most of it will be lost unless a bid by the Twentieth Century Society (C20) to list the whole 7ha estate is successful.

C20 director Catherine Croft described it as “one of the most important examples of social housing in London” and a “strong example of the important legacy of progressive public housing created by Lambeth council under Ted Hollamby”.

Its 450 low-rise homes of varying sizes were designed to nestle on the ridge of a hill above Crystal Palace by Rosemary Stjernstedt between 1967-74. It is celebrated for its views over London as well as its cleverly designed interiors and separation of cars and pedestrians.

A decision on the listing application is expected in the next month but Kilpatrick said it was unlikely to be approved because of years of alterations and deterioration.

He dubbed an alternative proposal by pressure group Architects for Social Housing (ASH) to increase density at Central Hill without any demolition as a “noble idea but not really practical”.

ASH has worked with residents to identify 14 possible infill sites and opportunities for adding storeys to the existing low-rise buildings which would add 250 homes.

Geraldine Dening, architect and ASH co-founder, said: “I believe our solution is genuinely the most economically viable and environmentally and socially sustainable.

“Far from demolishing the estate, ASH believes we should be exporting Central Hill as a model of council housing that can meet London’s housing needs.”

Lambeth said it was reviewing these proposals but Kilpatrick said any scheme had to generate enough income to pay for itself – and that ASH’s would not do that. He said PRP’s aim was to keep all the residents on the estate.

Kilpatrick’s comments came the week that Lambeth finally voted to bulldoze Cressingham Gardens, designed by Hollamby in 1967-78 and another C20 and ASH case.

The Tulse Hill estate was briefly reprieved when the High Court ruled that Lambeth’s consultation was unlawful and must be rerun.



Readers' comments (13)

  • chris1608

    What hope for real sustainability in construction when an increase in density can always be used as an argument against effective re-use.
    There should be a development tax calculated on embodied energy and years served.

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  • What precisely are the 'substandard' issues with the estate? And are they really so difficult to rectify for less the cost of complete demolition and new buildings? Are architects really so devoid of imagination and skill that they can't come up with alternatives? Or are councils merely intent on removing these reminders of another era of housing?

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  • Nothing fundamentally wrong with Central Hill, certainly nothing a bit of a scrub up couldn't solve.

    The flats currently sell for around £400k so the market is saying there is value in them.

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  • Substandard conditions is an unnecessarily emotive term. What exactly are the issues and can they be remedied? If it's a case of not achieving modern insulation standards then bang goes every Georgian Victorian Edwardian house in the UK as well as all the suburbs. The community seems to be well established and not a problem.

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  • SomeoneStoleMyNick

    This guy is a joke or a disgrace depending on your point of view. The residents of Central Hill are DEAD AGAINST this so what does this clown think he's talking about? People first my arse. Architects are well-known for not having any principles except the exhortation to just "get the job" from the most famous architect with no principles, Philip Johnson. Spare me your sadness, Brendan Kilpatrick and I hope our paths never cross.

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  • same old/same old, unfortunate re-run of the post-2WW housing scenario.
    option 1 - move everyone out/decant; demolish/rebuild; sell at market rates.
    option 2 - decant; refurbish; sell at right-to-buy rates.
    either way we lose affordable housing, but at least the latter is kinder to the fabric and carbon footprint.

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  • Robert Park

    There is no reasonable argument for demolition and rebuild other than a commercial one. To cite human interest as the motivating force is self-delusional at best. Some might think cynically deceptive.

    What a shame that the state of the property markets have got to the point where the needs and interests of people have become totally irrelevant. And why are our left-wing urban councils complicit in this tragedy?

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  • I guess the re-development will be demolished in about 40-years time, will anyone argue for architectural 'merit' at that point?

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  • A stooge will say anything to defend his/her master's bidding

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  • SomeoneStoleMyNick

    10 Lindsey Street
    EC1A 9HP

    I'm up for a very loud protest in front of their offices. Time to NAME AND SHAME

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