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Central Hill: Lambeth to bring controversial overhaul back in-house

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Lambeth Council has announced it is taking the controversial regeneration of its 1960s Central Hill estate in south London back in-house after ditching a contractor it had picked to lead the project

The local authority announced last March it had chosen Mace to manage the demolition and rebuilding of Central Hill estate in Crystal Palace. 

The construction company was tasked with drawing up plans to revamp the 450-home estate, designed by Rosemary Stjernstedt and the Lambeth Borough Architects Department during the directorship of Ted Hollamby.

However, Lambeth has confirmed it has now decided ‘not to proceed’ with Mace, and will instead be developing the estate under its wholly-owned development company, Homes for Lambeth (HfL).

In a statement, the council said: ’The decision was not taken lightly, specifically given the effort and time put in by residents to progress the appointment of the Development Management Team.

‘Homes for Lambeth, however, believes that significant costs can be saved by managing the work in-house, as well as giving more control on key decisions.’

It added that over recent months HfL had ’established a strong team with significant experience in the building industry’, adding: ’Now we are now fully staffed we are able to begin the serious work of rebuilding Central Hill.’

The council said the next step was to work with residents and architects to develop a viable masterplan for the estate, which has been due for demolition since March 2017.

Lambeth decided to demolish Central Hill, a low-rise estate built dramatically into a steeply sloping site, as it argued that refurbishing the homes would be too expensive. 

The demolition of Central Hill, one of five estates in Lambeth’s regeneration programme, has faced opposition from residents, who argue that the buildings need repairs and maintenance but are in otherwise good condition.

In 2016 Historic England chose not to list the estate, a decision criticised by The Twentieth Century Society.

Alternative designs for Central Hill by Architects for Social Housing (ASH) found room for an additional 242 dwellings through infill and roof extensions without demolishing any homes, increasing the estate’s current capacity from 476 homes to 718.

PRP was appointed by Lambeth Council to draw up options for a ‘higher density’ redevelopment of the estate in 2014 but the plans were not taken forward.

The council has also faced criticism for its plans to knock down 306 homes on Cressingham Gardens next to Brixton’s Brockwell Park and rebuild with an additional 252 homes. Residents have been calling for Lambeth to hold a ballot on whether the demolition should go ahead.

A Mace spokesperson said: ’We are naturally very disappointed by the decision taken by Homes for Lambeth after the conclusion of a competitive tendering process which took significant time and effort to complete.

’The successful re-development of Central Hall Estate is critically important to residents and the local community. We wish Homes for Lambeth well in delivering on the promises they have made to local people.’

Outline plan of PRP's remit on Central Estate [Lambeth]

Outline plan of PRP’s remit on Central Estate [Lambeth]

Outline plan of PRP’s remit on Central Estate [Lambeth] 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • It would be interesting to learn further what lies behind Lambeth's statement that ’Now we are now fully staffed we are able to begin the serious work of rebuilding Central Hill.’ Judging by the horrendous incompetence with which they let two D&B contracts (running concurrently and without coordination) for the supposed upgrade of my listed grade2 scheme, 269 Leigham Court Rd, there will be scant if any architectural control.

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  • So, after four years of studiously ignoring our work, the AJ finally deigns to mention ASH's design alternatives to the demolition of Central Hill estate in Crystal Palace. And you even quote the figures on how many new dwellings we could build without demolishing a single existing home on the estate.

    What you don't mention is that, contrary to the lies of Lambeth council drawing on commissioned reports by PRP Architects and Airey Miller quantity surveyors that are an object lesson in professional malpractice, ASH's entire proposal for the construction of 242 new builds, of which at least half would be for social rent, plus the refurbishing of the existing 476 homes up to Decent Homes Standard plus, would cost £97 million, repayable over 25 years; while Lambeth council's proposal for the demolition of the entire estate and the building of 1,530 new properties, of which half will be for market sale, and resulting in a total loss of 340 homes for social rent, will cost over £570 million, repayable over 60 years.

    It's a shame you couldn't reproduce our masterplan for Central Hill estate in your article, and have instead used an image by PRP, a practice responsible for the disastrous estate regenerations of Myatt's Field North, Orchard Village and Portobello Square (something the AJ has failed to cover); but should you ever wish to publish our proposals, or our report on the Costs of Estate Regeneration (link below), you know where to find us.

    https://architectsforsocialhousing.co.uk/2018/09/07/the-costs-of-estate-regeneration/

    Simon Elmer
    Architects for Social Housing

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