Cressingham Gardens Demolition Decision: Protest


On 13 July 300 people attended a protest at Lambeth Town Hall to protest against Lambeth Council’s decision to proceed with the full demolition of the estate. This decision was made public, on Twitter, by Councillor Mathew Bennet, both before residents were informed and days before it was due to be put to a vote at the cabinet meeting.

ASH was one of a number of groups out to support residents. The breadth of groups – from Hands off Knights Walk, and Save Central Hill, two other Lambeth estates facing demolition, to Unite – is testimony to the fact that Cressingham Gardens is not an isolated situation, but part of the UKs failure to protect and develop a decent system of good quality, genuinely affordable homes. In social, economic and design terms, Cressingham Gardens is a successful part of our collective heritage of council housing. We should be maintaining and learning from it, not demolishing a community to make way for private buy-to-lets, a housing system London knows not to work.

DSC_1118 Caution: cleansing in process. Sign borrowed from Brixton Arches where tenants are also facing eviction

DSC_1141 copy

The protest continued outside the Town Hall while residents attended the meeting and the councillors, in the face of overwhelming support for refurbishment, voted to demolish.

For a good account of the meeting, see this Brixton Buzz article

The good news, however is that residents have been granted a judicial review by the High Court, where human rights lawyers instructed by a resident will argue that Lambeth unlawfully disregarded residents responses during the consultation period. So watch this space.

Finally, here is a sign made by an ASH memberUnfortunately, it looks like we will be needing it again, so feel free to print / use / modify.

Bulldozing Democracy

46 years on…

Tulse Hill_Hollamby_1969

Thanks to Sturgis, who are undertaking a green retrofit feasibility study for Cressingham Gardens, for sending us the set of original Tulse Hill drawings produced by Ted Hollamby for Lambeth Council in 1969. The beautiful cover image alone hints at more sensitive approach to urban design – the entire estate was planned around the existing trees on the site which give Cressingham Gardens so much of its character today. Here is Bodley Manor Way in drawings and in full use complete with kitchen gardens 46 years later.

We have since used the drawings in workshops with residents – a good starting point for thinking about the voids was to be able to discuss the existing designs and what to take from them. The full set is uploaded here: Full version Cress 1969 plans.

Block Type B

Cressingham Gardens: Design Workshop

On 27 June 2015, ASH participated in a workshop at Cressingham gardens regarding potential designs for the ‘Voids’, a set of flats on Crosby Walk to the north of  Cressingham Gardens which have lain derelict for over 16 years.


We set up a table in the shared garden in front of the properties in Crosby Walk, and discussed and drew some of the  options and ideas presented to us by the residents.


Generally the residents were (obviously) very keen for something to be done -some of the remaining 6 flats on crosby row have been sorely neglected in a state of paralysis for a considerable length of time, so they were very keen to see improvement along here.

We discussed several options:

1. Rebuild exactly as they were, i.e. 6 x 1-bedroom flats.

2. Demolish the end four flats, and build a new block of flats (potentially more than 4)

3. Demolish the whole row and build considerably more flats, or another form of housing and other spaces.

We discuss what kind of occupation people thought would be useful, and the key one that was discussed was  some kind of housing specifically  for the elderly or disabled. There are currently quite a few elderly people on the estates living in some of the larger homes, who don’t want to leave the estates, but for whom at he moment, there is no real option.

The provision of some housing specifically for the elderly and disabled would enable these larger homes to be freed up for families who are currently needing larger homes, and for the more vulnerable people to remain living in the community they know and love, but in a home which his better suited to their needs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe discussed the potential for some shared communal spaces provided as part of this. These ranged from a shared living room for the elderly, a shared garden for children and elderly, rentable rooms for a carer or visitors, etc.

Ashvin from Variant Office participated with a model of crosby walk which enabled people to get a sense of scale and massing, while Emily from ASH and Cambridge Design Research Studio drew sections illustrating the impact of the new flats on light and overlooking that the residents had concerns about.


Principles of Social Housing on Cressingham Gardens Estate

De Montfort University, BA Architecture, Second year, 2015

image by Carl Dusu

Second year architecture students at DMU spent their second term in 2015 on Cressingham Gardens, getting to know the estate and some of the issues it faces within the contemporary context of social housing in London.

They were asked initially to explore The principles of Social Housing at Cressingham Gardens, and from there to come up with proposals which reflected their research.

Social Housing A Lomas

Some students chose to look into how they might redevelop the ‘voids’ on Crosby Walk*(buildings that have lain empty for over 10 years: see Cressingham Gardens post), while others explored the potential for more intensive use of the gardens on the estate, while others looked into proposals for new communal and mixed use buildings.

Image by Carl Dusu


what cressingham could be, Carl Dusu

Images by Carl Dusu

DMU students presenting at Real Estates, Peer Gallery, 2015

Cressingham Gardens: Pilot workshop on open spaces


Over the weekend of 13-14 June, as part of Open Garden Estates, ASH undertook a pilot workshop at Cressingham Gardens run by Georgie and Emily from Attic. This was focused on Cressingham’s extensive green spaces and gave us a chance to be briefed by residents and members of the Save Cressingham Gardens campaign, and begin talking with others about important parts and issues on the estate as well as understanding their own involvement with the campaign.


During the afternoon older kids experimented with photographing (above), filming and recording various parts of Cressingham, and ASH were given a tour by a resident of 9 years in his electric wheelchair to plot out potential new access routes.

The last part of the workshop was a frantic but very enjoyable drawing session with the very youngest residents, maybe not a ‘consultation’ in itself,  but sessions like this are are hugely valuable in understanding dynamics, how residents use the estate currently, and most simply in providing an activity for kids, over which parents can talk, discuss resisting demolition, learn more about the campaign if they were new to the community or in one case just meet their neighbours for the first time.

DSC_0879_climbingwall DSC_0881_wendyhouse+hideandseek DSC_0893_zipwire


Workshop 1 – Green spaces

Drawings and documentation to follow.

Workshop 2 – Voids #1

In terms of documentation of this workshop, we would take photographs of the specific aspects people comment on, and sketch over the drawings of the existing plans sections and elevations and perspectives of the homes at Cressingham. I would be keen not to complicate this workshop with lots of examples of other architectural options to look at. Given that the houses and flats at Cressingham are very well liked, and we are partly arguing that they should be retained for their exceptional architectural qualities, I suggest we keep to using existing Cressingham house and flat designs as the starting point for our conversations and for the new designs (obviously with improvements people ask for). I have also got printouts of some of the DMU students’ work which talks about the principles of social housing at Cressingham, which might be useful to talk over.

Workshop 3 – Voids #2

Illustration of the outcomes of the previous ‘voids’  workshop, to incorporate the spatial and massing studies we have already done (back in March/ April) but to reflect the outcomes of the previous workshop and drawn up for presentation. I expect there may be several alternatives to draw at this stage, but we should try and keep options down otherwise this will simply complicate things – it depends on how you want to go with this.  At this stage the designs would still want to be very sketchy, while trying to clearly identify any resident highlighted elements from the previous workshops. Bearing in mind that people will be asked to vote on this to some extent (?), we don’t want them voting against it because they don’t like the detail. I presume they will only be asked to vote in principle, so we should ensure that the designs remain very much ‘in principle’.


Workshop 4 – Additional community projects

This attached overview drawing could be used to locate the various possible additional projects (including the voids). Again, this workshop might need to be spilt in two – the first to be information gathering, the second (workshop 5) presenting back the findings and design conclusions.

It could be that workshops #2 and #4 are reasonably close together, but that #3 and #5 are a bit later to allow for pulling together of the information.

The architectural implications of the green refurbishment is not something we have really spent any time considering yet, but it is something that will need some consideration, though maybe not at this stage.

Architectural Workshops on Cressingham Gardens Estate

‘THE VOIDS’ –Gathering Information

Existing site

What are the issues along Crosby walk?

  • People passing by to walk to the park – is that a good or bad thing?
  • South facing at the front – back gardens underused?
  • Subsidence/ structural damage
  • Access for construction
  • Disabled access
  • OTHER…

What would you like to see happen here?

  • To be rebuilt as it is? (No additional flats)
  • Rebuilt 4 end voids on existing footprint but some more flats added if possible?
  • Whole row taken down and construction of more flats, including replacement of existing flats. (existing tenants priority)
  • New flats to be totally social rented?
  • Or some for private sale which could help pay for refurbishments?
  • Something other than flats? (eg shared/ Communcal facilities? Workspaces?
  • Specific kinds of flats – disabled/ live in carer? shelterd accom?


What kinds of housing would you like the new flats to contain?

  • 2 or 3 bed maisonettes?
  • More 1 bed flats (to replace those lost?)
  • Community space for elderly?
  • Overlooked shared front garden? For eldery and young
  • Shared or separate back gardens?
  • Different kinds of communal living spaces?

What do or don’t you like about the existing flat and house designs at Cressingham? What do you think we could learn from? 

  • View of park/ trees?
  • Access to other parts of Cressingham or to Brockwell park
  • Relationship to other houses/ flats
  • Neighbourlyness?
  • Split level?
  • Natural light?
  • Lots of storage?
  • Layout?
  • Size?
  • Flexibility?
  • Materials?
  • Guttering/ drainage design/ water management
  • energy use (warm/ cool, bills)
  • Ventilation for bathrooms and kitchen
  • Are there other things you think work well
  • Are there other things you would like to see improved

Materials for use:

  • Print out plans and sections of all the existing house and flat types
  • Print out Existing site section and plans – to show
    • opportunities (for higher building here) and
    • constraints – ie 45 degree right to light with neighbour in Brockwell Gate) and the rest of Crosby walk.
  • Model of Crosby walk (if DMU students can do in time)