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Secretary of State rejects Robin Hood Gardens appeal

The culture secretary Andy Burnham has sealed the fate of Robin Hood Gardens after rejecting an appeal from the Twentieth Century Society against the government’s decision not to list the ‘Brutalist’ estate

Burnham has instead given the estate immunity from listing for five years, arguing that the Smithson-designed housing estate in East London does not warrant protected status.

The verdict was announced by the Department for Culture Media and Sport on 13 May. Reiterating the reasons for the original decision, the letter reads: ‘The Secretary of State concludes that, on balance, Robin Hood Gardens was not successful housing and consequently not a particular good example of housing design…its design is flawed resulting in limited architectural quality.

‘For the above reasons the secretary of state considers that the negative factors outweigh the interest of the landscaping of the estate, the significance of the Smithsons and their thinking, and the influence of the estate on the work of notable architects. The Secretary of State therefore maintains that Robin Hood Gardens does not have the special architectural and historic interest required to merit listing.’

In a statement in 2008, the Twentieth Century Society described the English Heritage as a ‘beleaguered quango’ in light of its decision not to support the listing of Robin Hood Gardens.

C20 said it was not surprised by the then architecture minister, Margaret Hodge’s decision not to list the tenement block, but claimed that future generations would look back on the decision as ‘incomprehensible’.

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