All posts by Rob

Our new temporary shop has arrived

Our temporary replacement shop was installed earlier this week. It is located on Palace Road, next to Ducavel House, and it will be available during the building of the new resource centre.

The new temporary shop.
The store room being craned into position next to the shop.

But what about the shrubs and fruit trees that were in this location before? Don’t worry – the shrubs have been found a new home at the back of the nature garden and Farrans have moved the two apple trees further along Palace Road.

Our shrubs in their new home.
One of the relocated apple trees.

Covid-19 response update

As time goes by, we are experiencing greater restrictions on social interactions and movement outside the home. While this should slow the spread of Covid-19, it will have significant social and economic consequences for all of us. In response, community groups are springing up to help support those are isolated at home or who are in need of assistance.

WhatsApp appears to be the main communication tool being used to coordinate volunteering efforts and Google Docs is being used to store information about volunteers and those in need as well as helpful advice. The initial focus is finding volunteers for each street and delivering flyers to that street. Here is a flyer template. If you would like to do some flyering, use this spreadsheet to record the street that you have flyered.

This spreadsheet contains a list of WhatsApp groups for Lambeth. Further information can be found here. A spreadsheet and WhatsApp group have been set up for St Martin’s Estate and Palace Road Estate. The spreadsheet is here and you can join the WhatsApp group using this link. If you can help, please join this group or get in touch through this website.

Note that there is a separate WhatsApp group for the Streatham Hill ward (which includes Palace Road Estate).

Please get involved with these efforts if you can, but bear in mind the need to minimise transmission of the virus. Follow the official advice in full. Do not expect that a mask or gloves alone will protect you or others.

Summer evening

Responding to Covid-19

With the rapidly increasing concern about the spread of Covid-19 we all need to make careful and informed decisions about how we act.

  • Don’t spread, or act on, misinformation. Expert advice is available from the NHS, Public Health England and the government.
  • Take care of yourself, your family, friends and neighbours. We should try our best to slow the spread of infection, to allow our health services the time to care for us. We should also try to reduce our vulnerability to infections, by eating well, getting enough sleep and avoiding unhealthy activities, such as smoking.
  • Please check on your neighbours. Those who are ill or self-isolating may need help getting essential supplies. They may also need to know that someone cares about them enough to help them.

As well as being a challenging time for many of us, this is an opportunity for us to support each other and to strengthen the community on Palace Road Estate.

Superfast broadband?

Would you like to have superfast fibre broadband? A company called G.Network is installing superfast broadband across Lambeth during 2020. This will operate at 1 Gb/s – about 100 times faster than we currently get with ADSL broadband.

G.Network will be starting installation in the Coldharbour and Brixton Hill areas. They will then prioritise streets that show the greatest interest so, if you are interested, register your interest here.

Tree felling

Yesterday, newsletters were delivered to residents by Farrans, the contractor leading the building of the new resource centre on Coburg Crescent. These newsletters introduced Farrans and warned residents that some trees next to the current hoarding would be felled to make way for the building work. That same day those trees were felled.

Before: The west end of the estate in 2015
After: The same view today

The trees that were felled were a mixture of ash, lime and Norway maple. They were assessed during a tree survey in 2017 and most were considered to be of ‘moderate quality’.

The tree survey also highlighted that there is potential for damage to other trees in the area, in particular to the Norway maple that lies close to the bin store. This has roots that extend into the building site. The Tree Protection Plan requires that fencing is erected to protect this tree before any other work commences. The tree survey also recommends that the grass verge to the north-west of the site is protected with fencing.

Fruit trees: past, present and future

Many thanks to the Open Orchard Project who visited the estate last week to help care for our young fruit trees. They will be back again on Saturday 22nd February to help plant more fruit trees on the estate. Do join us for this community planting event.

A little bit of history

Where Palace Road Estate is now, there used to be large detached houses with their own gardens. Some of the trees on the estate, including pear, plum and cherry trees are from these former gardens. Over the years, the fruit trees have become rather old and tall and the fruit is difficult to reach.

Caring for our young fruit trees

In early 2014, volunteers worked with Open Orchard to plant 10 new fruit trees across the estate. Robert and Thomas from Open Orchard visited the estate last week (and back in November) to help care for these young fruit trees.

Last week, they worked with a couple of residents to:

  • prune the trees to improve their shape and encourage healthy growth
  • remove grass from around the trees to reduce competition for water and nutrients
  • add leaves to suppress weeds and help to enrich the soil
  • re-secure the protective cages
  • move a young cherry tree which was in the way of the children’s slide to a better location nearby.
Work in progress on frosty ground
The finished scene

Planting more fruit trees and getting involved

Open Orchard and PRERA are working together to plant more fruit trees on the estate. Do join us on Saturday 22nd February 2020 to help with the planting. More details about the event will be available shortly on this blog and on posters on the estate noticeboards.

By planting fruit trees on the estate, and looking after them, we’ll have a source of locally grown fresh fruit for many years to come. Trees also bring a range of environmental benefits – we’ll cover these in a future blog post. After the trees have been planted, the main thing we’ll need to do is to keep them well watered. In due course, the trees will also need the type of care outlined above. If you’re interested in helping to look after the fruit trees on the estate, do let us know. Training can be arranged.

Happy workers!

Meeting with Farrans

Yesterday evening, the contractor for the new building on Coburg Crescent – Farrans – presented their plans for the construction project. We heard about plans for parking, the temporary shop, community engagement and health and safety.

Jerome Curran, Contracts Manager at Farrans, introducing us to the company

The construction project is due to run from March 2020 until March 2021. Farrans should be on site very soon, to improve the appearance of the hoarding. The hoarding will later be rebuilt to match the boundary of the construction site before construction begins.

During construction, a temporary shop will be opened between Ducavel House and Palace Road. This will open around the end of March and it is hoped that there will be continuity of service during the move.

Farrans made it clear that yesterday’s meeting was just the start of their engagement with the local community. They will be working with PRERA and local schools during the works. There will also be many ways for individuals to get in touch with Farrans. These contact details will be posted on the site noticeboard. There will also be bimonthly newsletters delivered to the neighbourhood, including the whole of Palace Road Estate.

Major works update

A representative from the PRERA committee attended a meeting with the contractor, Engie, and Lambeth Council last week to get an update on the major works. The works at Coburg Crescent should be completed this week. Here is a summary of the other information provided, which mainly related to Ducavel and Baly Houses:

  • There was a delay with securing the nets around the scaffolding due to the recent strong winds, but this work should be finished this week.
  • Letters are to be sent out this week, regarding surveys of the windows and asbestos.
  • Windows surveys will start from the middle of this week.
  • The process of fitting windows should take six to eight weeks.
  • Wooden frames will be fixed onto the roof to protect the skylights when the roof is being repaired.
  • The skylights will be replaced, though no date was given on that.
  • We don’t have a timeframe for renovation of the balconies.
  • Heating will be turned off at some point during window replacement to the front of the properties. Letters will be sent out to the residents before this happens.
  • Asbestos could be within external wooden parts of properties and will need to be removed by a specialist. Residents may have to leave their homes for a short time during the removal process.
  • A monthly newsletter will be sent to keep residents informed.
  • A new Liaison officer will be stating soon. Letters will be distributed with their contact details.
  • Works are expected to be completed by June this Year.

Meet the contractors for the new building

Farrans, the construction contractor for the new building on Coburg Crescent, will be presenting their proposed schedule of works this Thursday evening at Laburnum Hall. The schedule of works describes how and when the building work will be carried out, so it is an important document. Come along and find out more!

The meeting is at 7pm on Thursday 23 January 2020. Laburnum Hall is on Cheshire Estate, next to the Palace Road Nature Garden. It is the hall where PRERA holds its annual general meetings.

Hillside Gardens Park improvements

Our splendid local park – Hillside Gardens Park – will soon be having various improvement works carried out, starting at this end of this month with re-paving of the footpaths. During the spring work will be carried out to improve the play area and the tennis courts.

A document detailing proposed improvements can be downloaded here. Mocked-up images of the new play area can be found here. The team planning the work are seeking feedback on the proposals by 2 February 2020. Feedback can be sent to Rob Kelly, the project manager at rkelly2@lambeth.gov.uk. For more details see this letter and the Friends of Hillside Gardens Park website.

Aerial view of the proposed improvements
Aerial view of the proposed improvements