An alternative view from Adam Gray
Yesterday Wandsworth Council welcomed the decision of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport that Allbrook House and Roehampton Library will not be listed as buildings of ‘special architectural or historic interest’.
Allbrook House today
Adam Gray of @voteRoehampton, believes that the existing buildings could be renovated rather than demolished. He told this website:
"The decision by Historic England not to list Allbrook House is unsurprising and, among many, no doubt cheered. Those of us who profoundly disagree with it could highlight their huge u-turn without any explanation (English Heritage last recommended the whole estate should be listed); their acknowledgement that Allbrook House is of a higher quality than the listed and essentially identical Highcliffe Drive blocks or why they fail to recognise that the undisputed and significant design failures around the bottom of the block cannot be better addressed simply by better design.
"But the listing issue isn't the substantive problem. No-one can honestly claim that the homes in Allbrook House are unfit for purpose. They are spacious. They were designed to a far higher standard than much of the godawful monstrosities being stacked up all over our borough. They provide their lucky - yes: lucky - residents with stunning views of Richmond Park, Wimbledon Common, Putney Heath and the rest of Roehampton. This block could be transformed, in the same way that Sheffield's architecturally similar Park Hill estate was transformed. No existing residents evicted, no perfectly good council homes demolished, no privatisation of public housing, no change to the orginal masterplan of the important Alton estate.
"There is not a single substantive reason for this block to be demolished. It just happens to be visible, of an architectural style that some dislike and slap bang in the middle of divisive and cynical council plans to convert public housing into private housing that few local people will be able to afford.
"And that, to me, is simply wrong. The problem here is not Historic England crumbling when asked to stand against a so-called "regeneration" that will bring little that is good, and much that is bad to an area due its chance to shine. It is the council's atrocious plan - the disdain it has for council housing and those who value it - that is the problem."
Historic England’s report lists several “principle reasons” for recommending the listing application be rejected, including:
“ * Architectural interest: the relationship between the library and slab lacks cohesion, and the separated nature of their designs has created unpleasant spaces in the piloti undercroft;
* Fulfilment of function: the gateway piazza was never realised and the positioning of the slab limits, rather than opens-up, lines of sight toward the estate to the west;
* Alterations to the library: the design intention, internally, has been lost through alterations;
* Historic interest: the estate as a whole is of international significance for its design and planning, but Allbrook House and the library are not principal elements;
* Architects: the approach of the LCC and the designs of John Partridge are better represented in the buildings to the west;
* Group value: the building stands removed from the heart of the estate hence lacks a strong visual relationship with its listed buildings.”
The council’s plans for the Alton area include 'replacing many outdated homes with high quality properties set around a much improved environment, a stronger local economy and with modern community facilities. All existing council tenants and homeowners living on the estate are being offered the chance to stay and share in the area’s revival'.
Artist impression of how the space could look following the regeneration programme
For more information and to sign up for e-newsletters all about the regeneration project visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/roehamtpton
November 12, 2015