Housing demolition plans spark protests in Lambeth

Residents of Lambeth’s Cressingham Gardens’ marched on the town hall to protest against housing regeneration projects.

A candlelit vigil was held in memory of former Cressingham Gardens’ resident Ann Plant who died last year following a battle with bowel cancer and after helping set up the Stand Up To Lambeth (SUTL) protest group who led the demonstration.

A banner was laid for Mrs Plant outside the town hall and her widower, Andy Plant, placed two candles in her memory.

He said: “What Ann wanted most of all was to save Cressingham Gardens estate.

“She threw herself into everything.

“Eight weeks before she died she was up all night making banners for the first Stand Up To Lambeth protest.

“She had a bowel tumour which was apparently the size of her fist and she had secondaries in her lungs and her bones.

“Her doctor said stress hormones will make the cancer grew faster and more aggressively.

“I am not saying it is Lambeth council’s fault, but the regeneration process has pretty much affected everyone’s health.

“The day before she died, she asked me to carry on fighting.”

Cressingham Gardens was designed by Architect Edward Hollamby in the late 1960s using low-rise dwellings to achieve the same residential density as high-rise apartment blocks.

In 2013 the council published plans to demolish the estate due to structural defects and build a new development in its place.

The council have tried to assure residents of the projects merits.

They say that current residents will have the option to live in the new homes and that more homes will be available to those on the housing waiting list, but many like Mr Plant, who has lived there for more than twenty years, remain opposed to the project.

Mr Plant said: “Living at Cressingham has been a dream. It’s like a village straight out of an Enid Blyton novel.

“Being disabled I know how important it is to be familiar with where you live and know where, if you trip, you can put your hands out to save yourself.”

A consultation period has now been set up with a design team meeting Cressingham residents, while a council timeline suggests that the first house will be demolished in winter 2019.

Professor Marion Hamm, of Austria’s University of Klagenfurt and previously a visiting scholar at University College London, is conducting research into Brixton culture and heritage.

She has been living on and off in Brixton for the past decade.

She said: “What could be called a Brixton heritage was built by lots of people who were all in some way at the margins of society.

“I’m not so sure what urban regeneration holds for these longstanding residents and I’m not sure what it will mean for this really precious Brixton heritage that was created over a hundred years.”

Lambeth opposition leader and Conservative councillor Tim Briggs also attended the protest.

He said: “We have a very politically active minority who are very loud – and rightly so. But they are not listened to.

“Lambeth has been backward on housing for decades.

“People are very angry, and I completely understand that.”


A Lambeth council spokesperson said: “Lambeth is facing a housing crisis, with 21,000 people on our waiting list, over 1,800 families in temporary accommodation, and 1300 families in severely overcrowded accommodation.


“But, there isn’t enough money to improve all 24,000 council homes in Lambeth and there isn’t enough land in the borough to build the additional homes required.


“We are tackling this crisis head-on by investing millions of pounds to make current homes better, and identifying land available to build more homes.


“We’ve launched the biggest housebuilding programme for a generation, which includes plans to build better homes for current residents and more new homes for people who have no permanent roof over their heads.


“To pay for this, Lambeth has set up Homes for Lambeth (HFL), a company fully owned by the council. It will also build private homes, which will pay for the better affordable homes.


“Because we recognise that this is a difficult and disruptive process, we have worked closely with residents on the estate regeneration programme.”

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