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Listing bid on cards to stop Alton Estate demolition

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The Twentieth Century Society is to launch a listing bid to preserve two buildings on a landmark post-war London estate earmarked for a major regeneration programme

Earlier this month Wandsworth Borough Council’s executive committee backed a new masterplan to upgrade the London County Council-designed Alton Estate (1954-1958) in Roehampton, which was drawn up in partnership with Studio Egret West.

The scheme proposes the demolition of more than 300 homes as part of a wider scheme to add new shopping, health and community facilities, along with up to 800 new homes.

Among the buildings earmarked for removal are the Allbrook House slab block and the estate’s library – both of which the Twentieth Century Society said it would seek to protect. Parts of the estate are already contained in the Alton Conservation Area, which includes grade I and grade II* listed 18th Century houses as well as 10 grade II-listed point blocks and  five grade II* listed slab blocks.

The Twentieth Century Society said it supported the general aim of regenerating the estate, but believed Wandsworth’s approach was wrong. Case officer Clare Price said the majority of the estate’s problems were due to neglect rather than its  buildings: ‘We think that a sensitive refurbishment that carefully conserves the heritage of the buildings on site should be enough to achieve what Wandsworth wants.’

‘Some of the buildings they are talking about demolishing are out of the conservation area, and we want these buildings included because they’re part of the original masterplan for the estate.’

Allbrook House and library on the Alton Estate

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dgeezer/

Allbrook House and library on the Alton Estate

However the design team argues the regeneration programme is needed to revitalise the estate, open up new housing development, and deal with social problems including disproportionately high levels of unemployment and crime.

The masterplan says that the main building interventions proposed focus outside the conservation areas and would ‘upgrade the estate overall and the setting of designated heritage assets’.

A spokesman for Wandsworth Council said: ‘The masterplan has been developed with particular regard to the post war housing development as well as the layer of 18th Century country houses and associated domestic landscapes.

‘In many ways the estate environment will become closer to its original state as a result of this scheme, especially around the central Capability Brown landscape including the Grade II* slab blocks and Mount Clare House.’

Price said she expected the listing bids to be launched by the end of the year.

Wandsworth planning officers are currently drawing up a supplementary planning document to progress the masterplan with private-sector partners.

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