Future Estates: ASH presentation at the Royal Academy

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We are repeatedly told that London is facing an unprecedented housing crisis, and it is generally agreed that we must build 50,000 new homes a year to address this. We are told that the newly categorised brownfield land available to local authorities is mainly on council estates – and that these estates, as a direct result of their architecture, are havens for crime, drug-taking and anti-social behavior, and in states of decay beyond repair. We are told, in addition, that due to Central Government cuts, local authorities can no longer afford to subsidise council housing, so the only option they have is to demolish existing estates and rebuild them at higher densities, providing the additional market and affordable housing needed to fill the gap. At the same time, we are told that estate regeneration improves the economic and social well-being of the existing residents, housing them in homes that will be built to much higher environmental and other standards.

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ASH design proposals for West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates

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In response to the question addressed to ASH by the Architect’s Journal, there are many ways in ASH’s design proposals for the West Kensington & Gibbs Green People’s Plan are better than Capco’s masterplan, the primary and overriding one being that the residents, many of whom have lived here all their lives, will be able to remain living in their homes, the refurbishment of which can be funded by the provision of up to 250 new homes.

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Central Hill: The Alternative to Demolition

The images in this report were presented to the Central Hill estate Residents Engagement Panel on the 17 May, 2016. The proposals also take on board comments from Lambeth Council’s planning department, as well as comments from residents, neighbours and other architects following ASH’s previous exhibition on 20 February, 2016.

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The award winning Central Hill estate is a unique and highly successful piece of architecture and landscaping that is home to an established community, many of whom have lived here since it was built in the early 1970s by LCC architect Rosemary Stjernstedt under Ted Hollamby.

ASH’s proposals illustrate the potential to add around 222 new homes on Central Hill Estate, without demolishing a single home.

The proposals here reinforce the ideology and intentions of the original architecture of the estate, whilst allowing for the full refurbishment of the existing homes and public realm – bringing them up to a ‘decent standard’, and thus addressing any current concerns about their homes voiced by residents.

Lambeth’s arguments for the demolition of the estate do not stand up to scrutiny in any way other than increasing the density and land value of the estate. We believe this alone cannot justify the demolition of the 456 existing homes, and the uprooting of a long-standing community.

This is an initial feasibility study, and there are many possible design solutions to the fundamental proposition that architectural alternatives to demolition exist. What is presented here is an outline proposal to demonstrate the numbers of additional homes that could be gained on the estate.

The scheme has been costed by an independent quantity surveyor, and planning advice has been sought to ensure that all proposals correspond to local and national planning policies. Structural advice has also been sought to establish the feasibility of roof extensions.

If you would like to sign the petition supporting these proposals, see the ASH Petition

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Central Hill: Design Proposals

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1. Continuation not Demolition

Central Hill is an extremely well-designed estate whose masterplan, drawn up by LCC architect Rosemary Stjernstedt, is a model of community living and estate planning. Completed in the early 1970s, it consists of 456 structurally sound flats that are home to an established and strong community of over 1,000 people.ASH’s proposals aim to respect and continue the existing architecture, both its social vision and design intentions. These include the democratic access of all residents to views over London and the accompanying sunlight, the cleverly designed and well-proportioned interiors, the numerous outdoor and communal spaces, the car-free places where children can play in safety, and the many green ‘fingers’ that run through the estate, linking it to the surrounding neighbourhood of Crystal Palace and its parks. Far than demolishing the estate, ASH believes we should be exporting Central Hill as a model of council housing that can meet London’s housing needs.

The aims of our design proposals are threefold: 1) The continuation and improvement of the existing estate, with an increase in the number of homes; 2) The generation of the funds to pay for its refurbishment; and 3) The continued existence of the community it houses.

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Good News on Central Hill

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On Tuesday evening the Central Hill Tenants and Residents Association was informed that the exhibition of proposals for the demolition of their estate announced by Lambeth Council for 20 February has been cancelled, and the decision to demolish their estate put back from April to June. This is the third time the date has been rescheduled.

When residents asked why, the only reason Lambeth gave is that they are ‘not ready’. Architects for Social Housing asked the TRA whether Lambeth Council are now reconsidering the infill and refurbishment options they have taken off the table, and were told ‘no’, they are still only looking at demolition options. So perhaps the fact that an article on Lambeth’s plans for Central Hill appeared in last Sunday’s Observer, or that our own photo blog on the estate received over a thousand views in one day, contributed to their sudden unreadiness.

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Knights Walk Public Consultation: Alternative Proposals

ASH’s latest proposals for Knights Walk, in collaboration with If-Untitled, were presented at a public consultation meeting in the Cinema museum off Renfrew Road on 22 September, 2015. Audience included residents, neighbours, Matthew Bennett (Lambeth’s cabinet member for Housing) and Neil Volkes (Lambeth Head of Regeneration) as well as the usual suspects of Leslie Johnson and Joanne Simpson from Lambeth, Doug from MAE, and Naomi from Soundings.

Following MAE’s presentation of their proposals (from partial infill to full demolition) we presented our two latest infill and build over proposals, both of which retain ALL the existing homes, with the addition of an extra 39 no 3 bed homes (30 of which sit on top of the existing bunglows), and a further 35-45 new homes in two buildings on Renfrew Road and Kennington Lane respectively (options A and B). A total of around 80 new homes.

OPTION 1 - plan

OPTION 1 - view

Not having to rebuild the existing 33 homes (which are in perfectly good condition, and fantastic designs) – at approximately £150,000 each (say)- comes to a saving of around £5m. If Lambeth are obliged to buy out the current freeholders, this could add a further £3-4m, resulting in a saving of a whopping £8-9m which could be used to fund the construction of over 50 council homes elsewhere – or could enable the construction of a much greater percentage of council rent homes on this site (or pay for the refurbishment of the whole of Cressingham Gardens!)

OPTION 2 - plan

OPTION 2 - view

Lambeth are currently exploring these options alongside those proposed by MAE. Their investigation over the next few weeks will include costs and structural investigations, which will enable the proposals to be evaluated by the Cabinet in November. We are hoping to obtain our own structural advice over the next week (if possible) because we are determined to get a really clever (and simple) structural solution. It is a slightly more complex condition (and potentially more expensive in some places – but not necessarily throughout), but its certainly achievable (and, due to the savings through non demolition – potentially genuinely viable).

If anyone is in the Kennington area on thursday, the exhibition will be up in the community hall at Cotton Gardens Estate, and all comments on the various schemes much appreciated!

There will be a final presentation on 13th October by Lambeth of the outcomes of their investigations, followed by their recommendation to Cabinet in November

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