A £440 million plan to build a new 'urban village' on the site of decaying housing estates in Lambeth, south London, has been thrown into doubt after culture minister Alan Howarth announced plans to award Grade II-listed status to a 1960s secondary school on the site.
Last week's move to protect the 1964 Lilian Baylis School from demolition comes just as residents are due to vote on whether to scrap the wider £440 million Project Vauxhall scheme, which has been masterplanned by Carey Jones Architects, with housing designed by PRP Architects. The latest opinion polls show the decision is on a knife-edge.
The developer, St George with Wimpey Homes, has agreed to defer to public opinion on its scheme and the London Borough of Lambeth is holding a ballot on 3 July. But the possibility of a listing will come as a major new planning obstacle to the project. The developer is planning to completely demolish the Ethelred council estate at Kennington and the school which serves it, and replace it with a mix of social and private housing.
Almost 3000 new homes will be built in the area as part of the massive housing initiative. A survey showed that 40 per cent of the local population will be happy to move out of the rundown area for good following demolition work, but public opinion remains divided on the project.
'The vote may well be very close, ' said Nigele von Bar, chairman of the Project Vauxhall board. 'But if residents get the information they need then the outcome will be positive.'
The last poll showed that 57 per cent wanted the demolition proposals to be explored, 15 per cent said no and the remainder were undecided.
The masterplan aims to return the area to a more traditional urban design of streets and gardens. 'The experience of the awful architecture of the 1970s has been completely rejected by the locals, ' von Bar said. 'They want to go back to London street plans with gardens and rebuild the community.'
The financial structure of the deal means that the sale of private homes will subsidise the provision of 500 new social housing units through new building or the refurbishment of existing council houses. Property sales will also subsidise communal facilities, such as a new nursery school, adventure playground, health and fitness centre and a cultural centre. PRP architect Andy von Bradsky said it is not yet clear if it will be working on either the social housing or private housing elements. The vote is likely to resolve this and may also trigger the introduction of further architects to design other parts of the scheme.
Aside from the Lilian Baylis School, seven other buildings are under consideration for listing, including Denys Lasdun's Institute of Education in Bloomsbury, which is proposed for a Grade II* listing. The Cheltenham Estate in Kensington and Carradale House in Tower Hamlets, both by Erno Goldfinger, are proposed for Grade II status along with Thomas F Ford's 1959 St Crispin with Christchurch Church in Bermondsey, Patrick Gwynne's 1969 10 Blackheath Park, a 1964 house in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, by Jim and Betty Cadbury-Brown, and Metzstein and MacMillan's former Blackwell's Music Shop and attached Wadham College buildings at Holywell Street, Oxford.