Wandsworth council approves Hawkins Brown proposals for 1,100 new homes at seminal post-war estate 

Residential blocks proposed for the Alton Estate at Roehampton

Source: Wandsworth Council

Residential blocks proposed for the Alton Estate in Roehampton

Members of Wandsworth council’s planning committee have approved their own authority’s masterplan to redevelop the landmark post-war Alton Estate in south-west London with a scheme for more than 1,100 new homes.

The move comes three months after Wandsworth’s development partner, the housebuilder Redrow, walked away from the project as part of a wider refocusing of its activity away from the capital. Managing director Paul Muldowney said at the time that new home delivery in London was a challenge “compounded by increasing costs and a two-tier planning system”.

But Wandsworth has pushed ahead with the scheme, designed by Hawkins Brown, Barton Willmore and Tate Hindle, and the proposals have now been backed by all but one member of the authority’s planning applications committee.

The scheme, which will not affect all blocks on the estate, will deliver 1,108 new homes – 261 of which will be council-managed properties, a net increase of 103 council homes.

It will also provide community facilities, including a new library, youth centre, community hall, GP surgery, a nursery and children’s centre together with shops and business space.

The demolition of the Alton Estate’s unlisted Allbrook House slab block and its ground-level library has been the subject of objections from some of UK architecture’s biggest names, as well as campaign group the Twentieth Century Society.

In 2018 architects including David Adjaye, Richard Rogers and Sacha Lubetkin warned Wandsworth that an important gateway to the estate would be destroyed if the buildings were lost. A total of 21 buildings in the estate would be demolished under the proposals.

Council leader Ravi Govindia said the Alton Estate redevelopment was a “once in a generation” opportunity to provide a “transformational mixed-use regeneration scheme”.

He added: “Wandsworth council is absolutely committed to the regeneration of the Alton and this is a significant milestone for what is an important scheme.

“This regeneration has always been more than just about bricks and mortar. While this scheme will transform the lives of those that move into new homes, the wider community will benefit from the new jobs and training opportunities as well as access to better community facilities and open spaces that will ensure the Alton remains a place that people are proud to call home.”

Wandsworth council said a decision on the route to find a new developer to work on the project was expected before the end of the year, with the procurement process “commencing in early 2021”.

Hawkins Brown's mixed-use library, community-use and residential block earmarked for the Alton Estate

Hawkins Brown’s mixed-use library, community-use and residential block earmarked for the Alton Estate, as submitted in 2019

Because of the overall scale and number of homes involved, last week’s local-level approval for the Alton Estate masterplan is subject to the support of mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

Last year, Greater London Authority planning officers working for Khan voiced concerns over the Alton Estate proposals in a Stage 1 report – including the “segregation” of affordable housing in the single-tenure blocks on the edge of the application site. Another issue raised by GLA officers was the quality of consultation with residents that fed into the original proposals’ creation.

Wandsworth said in its report to the planning applications committee that it believed the “segregation” issues had now been addressed. 

Khan has a window to call the proposals in for his own determination if officers believe they are not compliant with policies set out in the London Plan.