Class war breaks out in Accordia as wealthy seek ban on alterations
Estate’s private homeowners campaign to list six-year-old scheme to guard against ‘damage’ by social housing residents’ modifications
Residents of Stirling Prize-winning Accordia in Cambridge have mounted an audacious bid to list the housing development and win conservation area status.
The residents’ association is seeking to safeguard the ‘architectural uniformity’ of the Fielden Clegg Bradley, Maccreanor Lavington and Alison Brooks-designed estate just six years after the first houses were built.
The campaign is led by owners of Accordia’s million pound properties – including several architects – who warn that private owners’ extensions and unsympathetic replacement of materials by social housing residents risk irreversibly damaging the internationally acclaimed development’s appearance.
While permitted development rights for extensions were removed under the masterplan’s original consent, recent deviations from the architects’ plan include two car ports and an upper deck on privately owned houses being transformed into additional rooms (pictured, top right). Wood staining has also been applied to timber porches on social housing which was intended to fade.
The association has already applied for conservation area status and is bidding for a more stringent Article Four direction to outlaw brickwork painting and all but ‘like-for-like’ door and window replacement.
If approved later this month, it will be the city’s first. An application to English Heritage for listing is expected within the year.
Architect and resident Bruce Stewart said: ‘Accordia is new and we haven’t reached the point where people have to replace windows and doors but when we get to that point it is possible people will compromise the look and go for change if there is no guidance and no legislation.’
Pointing to recent alterations, he said: ‘The whole thing hangs together because of its homogeneity. We are keen to get in there before damage is done.’
English Heritage’s East of England designation department team leader, Tony Calladine, supported the Article Four direction but warned that the housing scheme was ‘much too young’ for listing. He said: ‘Buildings under 30 years old are normally only assessed for listing if they are of outstanding quality and under threat.’
Cambridge City Council head of urban design and conservation Glen Richardson said: ‘It is a modern development and a lot of Article Four directions apply more to historic townscape than new areas.’
Keith Bradley, Richard Lavington and Alison Brooks have all supported conservation area status for Accordia.