Cressingham Gardens launches the People’s Plan
In 2013 Lambeth Council began a process of regeneration on Cressingham Gardens Estate, which was earmarked alongside 5 other estates under the banner of Homes for Lambeth. At the time, the council and the residents were exploring 5 options, including: full refurbishment, part refurbishment with new build, and a fully new build option. Through the consultation it became increasingly apparent that the residents favoured refurbishing the estate to an established close-knit inter-generational community.
As the time for the council’s decision approached, the council deemed the the refurbishment options as unaffordable and took them out of consideration without providing any evidence to support their decision. In March 2015 the Council ratified the decision for full demolition of Cressingham Gardens Estate.
The community mounted a legal challenge of this decision saying that the consultation was carried out unlawfully, which they won by Judicial Review in November 2015, forcing the council to re-consult the community on all 5 options.
Meanwhile, Variant Office have been working with the community at Cressingham Gardens to develop an alternative vision for the Estate……
The People’s Plan has been developed by the residents of Cressingham Gardens with from Variant Office and a team of surveyors, sustainability and as a realistic alternative to the council’s proposals to demolish the estate that are likely to result in the community being displaced.
The housing list in Lambeth currently sits at 22,000. One of the key issues that the council has failed to meaningfully respond to, is the additional load caused by demolishing huge swathes of existing affordable and council homes on Cressingham and also across the five estates earmarked for regeneration over the next five to 10 years.
The People’s Plan however, is a neat solution that would provide additional housing without uprooting the community or pressuring the housing list, whilst maintaining the sensitive relationship the estate has with the Brockwell Park conservation area.
The council’s best possible re-provision to date- which requires full demolition and a five-year construction programme – offers 23 additional houses at council rent levels. The People’s Plan could provide as many as 40, without large-scale demolition, and in a much shorter timescale.
The homes proposed in the car parks for example, provide 23 of these units as modular ‘inserts’ into the existing space. The beauty of them is that you can build three for the cost of one new build flat. This is a bonus in terms of the value for at a time when there is so much pressure on councils to deliver more for less.
This idea is not new either, progressive councils like Islington, have just completed similar projects on Parkhurst Road estate and Vulcan Way, providing new houses whilst being sensitive to the needs and desires of the community.
Part of the plan is a new resident-led management strategy, whereby the community takes control of the construction and maintenance of the estate going forward.
This approach would ensure a more sustainable development model which would also include bringing up the existing houses to Lambeth housing standards and then improve the housing through a phased green retrofit programme.
The further advantage to Lambeth is that the community would be able to deliver these through alternative funding sources without impacting on the Housing; which has been regularly cited as the limitation when considering refurbishment as an option.
The models and sources for funding this project by the community have been rigorously explored and the community is confident that this scheme also fulfils the councils key strategic considerations (as defined on the 17th of February) for any major building scheme.
The People’s Plan is an exciting and viable option and offers the council a radical new alternative that provides much more for a lot less while still respecting the existing vibrant intergenerational community in and around Cressingham Gardens.
Join us on the 23rd for the launch event at the Cressingham Rotunda (SW2).
For more information on this campaign please check