Updated: May 13, 2021
The Cressingham Gardens estate, designed in the 1960s by the then Lambeth council’s in-house architecture team under Ted Hollamby, is highly admired by many for its very clever design and layout. It is completely pedestrianised with only a single ring road. The blocks are built perpendicular to Brockwell Park, a park designated as Metropolitan Open Land. This creates green fingers penetrating all the way into the estate and providing extensive communal green areas enjoyed both by the residents and the wider public, rather than paved over streets & parking. You could call it a purpose designed Low Traffic Neighbourhood. Furthermore, the architects built around the existing trees leading to many blocks with ‘kinks’. They only removed a single tree, a poplar that was ill. Thus we are blessed with countless trees that are at least 80-90 years old. And perhaps ironically as a result of poor maintenance, Cressingham Gardens has become a haven for wildlife and was recently designated as an amphibian migratory crossing with the Department of Transport, or more affectionately known as a Toad Crossing.
Fast forward 40 years, Lambeth council now wants to demolish this jewel and effectively force out the community of 300 households, many of which are vulnerable and elderly. The tactics are becoming increasingly nasty. The latest has been to salami-slice the estate instead of doing a master plan and then to fast track a planning application for one of the blocks over the Christmas festive period during a covid lockdown. Merry Christmas, we want to demolish your home and evict you from your community. That was effectively the message that a 83 retired NHS nurse received early December last year. After 33 years in her home, the council now expects her to go house hunting despite being housebound and to somehow get a new mortgage.
But today I want to highlight what Lambeth council has approved, noting that this latest application was submitted by its own wholly owned development company aiming demolish an existing block of 12 homes and to replace with a mere 20 flats.
The removal of three 80-90 year old trees in contravention of its own local plan
A tree report submitted by Lambeth’s development company misidentifying an English Oak as a Turkish Oak to down value its importance.
Removal of a communal green space that is open to all estate residents and the wider public as they walk through to the Brockwell Park entrance, replacing it with a small enclosed garden only accessible by the prospective residents in the new block
A manipulation of the Urban Greening Factor calculation by including a to-be relocated bin area on the wider estate (ie not part of the actual development or to be used by the new residents) in order to reach the Mayor’s 0.40 target.
And according to Lambeth and its company, there is “no toad crossing”
This planning application is setting a precedent for how the whole of the Cressingham Gardens estate will look like. It is a miserable comparison to the council’s forward looking design of the 1960s.
My message to the next Mayor of London: In light of clear breaches of the London Plan that are occurring, and in this example by a development company that is owned by a London borough and thus conflicted, you must stop such breaches and clear manipulation of guidance and targets.