All posts by Cath

Wall and railings: when will they be repaired?

The wall and railings at the pedestrian entrance to the estate on Christchurch Road were badly damaged 6 months ago (early December 2019). This was due to a lorry crashing into them.

The Neighbourhood Housing Officer for the estate provided the following update this week:

“The repairs team have informed us that the works are authorised and are on issued status. The target date is 19th August 2020.

“All the information relating to the driver was passed over to our claims department, which are dealing with the driver’s insurance company.”

Resource Centre update

A resident of the estate (Cath) has been in regular contact with the Project Manager at Lambeth Council. She has been continuing to emphasise the need for clear and timely communication with local residents. She has requested that before any work starts on the construction site, local residents are given information about the measures that are in place to ensure the safety of workers and residents. The contractors (Farrans) are currently preparing a newsletter.

It sounds as though construction work is planned to start next month. Before the main work starts, there will be some activities to get the site ready, such as putting up a new hoarding (barrier) around the site. The newsletter will hopefully contain further details on timings and activities.

Cath has also asked for the following information to be provided to local residents: an explanation of why work is going to start soon, during the continuing pandemic, when the site has been abandoned for 4 years; what will be done to minimise the impact of the construction work on local residents and the local neighbourhood (for example, the measures to minimise noise and dust and the impact of site traffic).

The best-one shop is now on Palace Road, opposite the Nature Garden.
This unit is a temporary one as the Resource Centre will contain a shop.

Cath has been continuing to pursue various other matters on behalf of local residents. These include:

  • Asking for up to date signs to be put up around the Resource Centre site. The current ones indicate that the building should have been completed by now!
  • Arranging for paving bricks which will be removed during construction to be saved for repairs elsewhere on the estate.
  • Arranging for the PRERA noticeboard, which would end up within the construction site, to be moved further down Palace Road.
  • Arranging for an urgent repair to fill a hole in the pavement beside the construction site. This was completed yesterday.

If you have any questions or concerns that you would like raised with the Project Manager, do get in touch at contact@prera.org.uk

Saving our paving

Across Coburg Crescent, there is distinctive paving from when the estate was built in the 1970s. Unfortunately, over the years, repairs have been done with concrete or tarmac or just left bare.

When the Resource Centre is built on Coburg Crescent, hundreds of paving bricks will be dug up. We have asked the council to save these to use for repairs around Coburg Crescent. They have acknowledged that this is a good idea. However, finding somewhere to store the bricks seems to be a challenge.

We have offered a couple of solutions:

  • The paving bricks could be stored in the disused garages on the estate.
  • The paving bricks shouldn’t need to be stored. There are numerous areas of defective paving around the estate where these bricks are needed. If relevant departments within the council (e.g. Resident Services, Repairs) and the contractor (Farrans) can act collaboratively, then the bricks could be used straight away where they are needed.

We will continue to pursue this and we’ll keep residents updated via this blog.

Examples of defective paving on Coburg Crescent:

Gardening and food growing

Would you like to get involved in gardening and food growing on Palace Road Estate? Some residents have come together (online) to start a gardening group. We’d love more people to join us and we’d love to hear your ideas. Suggestions so far have included:

  • Planting more flowers around the estate, like we did with Urban Growth last year.
  • Growing vegetables, perhaps in raised beds or in an allotment area.
  • Enhancing the existing planters around the estate, including the ones on top of the Despard, Ponton, Baly and Ducavel House garages.
  • Having areas of the estate as wildflower / low mow areas, so that residents can enjoy the colourful wildflowers (and so insects can enjoy them too).

Would you like to get involved? Do you have ideas that you would like to share? Do get in touch with us at gardening@prera.org.uk

A resident weeding outside Baly House. What else would you like in these planters? Some edible herbs, perhaps?

We have plenty of support available to us. For example, Incredible Edible Lambeth – who support food growing schemes across the borough – are keen to help us get started. There are also free things, such as soil and materials to make raised beds, and funding that we can apply for.

A note regarding the coronavirus pandemic: Although we may be limited in what we can do face-to-face at the moment, there is plenty that we can still do as individuals and as household groups. We can also use social media and online meetings to stay in touch with each other and share ideas. Incredible Edible Lambeth have also collated useful guidance to help community gardening groups to operate safely during this time.

Some local sources of inspiration:

Neighbours on Limetree Close have created these wonderful planters
The Doodlebug Garden on Wavertree Road
Hillside Gardens Estate

Update on flooded garages

There is finally some activity at the badly flooded garages at Baly House. A tanker was at the garages this morning draining them. This follows involvement earlier this week from ward councillors and Lambeth Council’s Head of Repairs Operations.

It’s a relief to see the garages being drained at last, as the standing water may have been causing damage to the building, not to mention the unsightly appearance and foul smell.

The cause of the flooding will also need to be dealt with, so that it doesn’t happen again. In addition, the flooding (albeit less severe) in the other garage blocks needs to be sorted out. A resident of the estate (a Lambeth Street Champion) who escalated the matter to the ward councillors will continue to monitor progress.

Flooded garages

What’s going on at the Baly House garages? Drainage contractors were supposed to be coming on Monday 20th April to deal with the flooding. This work was to be overseen by the council’s capital works team. However, nothing seems to have been done. The garages still contain stagnant water.

Flooded garages (20th April)

A resident has been told that the flooding is due to a block in the drainage system causing a backsurge. The council has been asked to provide an update on what’s being done to deal with the problem. An update will be provided on this blog in due course.

Garage entrance (20th April)

Resource Centre Update

In February, a newsletter from the contractor Farrans indicated that construction of the Resource Centre would start this April. However, given the coronavirus situation, there is to be a further delay to the start of these works. The Project Manager from Lambeth Council confirmed earlier this month that construction is “on pause”.

It’s a shame that the badly damaged hoarding wasn’t repaired or replaced before “lockdown”. Residents had been given the impression at the meeting with Farrans in January, and through their February newsletter, that this would happen in February or March. Unfortunately, this eyesore will be with us for a while longer.

The dilapidated hoarding at the entrance to our estate

A resident of Coburg Crescent (Cath) is regularly liaising with the council’s Project Manager on behalf of residents. She has recently been pursuing the following matters:

  • Asking for new signs to be put up on the hoarding to reflect the current status of the project. Asking for the misleading out-of-date signs (which indicate that the building should have been completed by now) to be removed.
  • Asking for newsletters to residents to be clear and in plain English.
  • Asking for paving bricks which will be removed during construction to be kept for future repairs on the estate.
  • Asking for the PRERA noticeboard, which will be within the new hoarding, to be moved to a new location outside the construction site.
  • Asking if PRERA can have input to Farrans’ “Community Benefit Plan”.
  • Asking for updates about the shop / temporary shop. The Project Manager explained this week that once the temporary shop has been connected to an electrical supply, it will be ready to occupy (subject to lease negotiations).
Revised artist's impression of the new resource centre
An artist’s impression of the new Resource Centre

If there is anything that you would like Cath to raise with the Project Manager, do let her know via contact@prera.org.uk. She will keep residents updated via this blog. Cath has found the Project Manager, who is new to Lambeth Council, to be receptive and supportive. He is pursuing the above matters and also arranged for the two apple trees which were in the way of the construction site to be moved last month.

Coburg Crescent’s characteristic paving bricks

Nature blog: mistle thrush

The mistle thrush is a large songbird found in woodland, parks and gardens. One of these birds can often be seen in the oak tree or on the ground between Chalner House and Coburg Crescent. Perhaps it has a nest nearby.

The mistle thrush has greyish-brown upper parts, a long tail and a white belly with dark brown spots. It is larger and paler than the similar song thrush.

Mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus) outside Chalner House

The mistle thrush sings a ‘fluty’ song which is usually delivered from a high perch and it gives a rattling call in flight. On the ground, the mistle thrush often has an upright stance that further emphasises its size.

The upright stance of the mistle thrush
Mistle thrush foraging for worms outside Chalner House

You can read more about the mistle thrush on the British Trust for Ornithology, The Wildlife Trusts, the Woodland Trust and RSPB websites.

Nature blog: lesser celandine

There is an abundance of wildflowers on Palace Road Estate at the moment, bringing scenes of colour and nature to our urban setting. This post is about the lesser celandine.

A carpet of lesser celandine (Ficaria verna), outside Ducavel House

The lesser celandine is a member of the buttercup family. Its leaves are glossy, dark-green and heart-shaped with long stalks. Its flowers are shiny and yellow with eight to twelve petals.

Wordsworth was a fan of the lesser celandine and wrote three poems about them: The Small Celandine, To the Same Flower and To the Small Celandine.

You can read more about the lesser celandine on the Woodland Trust website.

Nature blog: fruit blossom

The first blossom is appearing on the new apple trees which were planted on the estate in February. This blossom, together with a range of wildflowers (which we’ll cover in a future post), brings scenes of colour and nature to our urban environment.

As more blossom emerges over the coming days and weeks, it will attract a range of insects. We’ve already seen a dark-edged bee-fly visiting the new trees. If you see any other interesting insects, do let us know so that we can write about them in future posts (email: contact@prera.org.uk).

Some of the mature pear trees on the estate are already covered in blossom.

Apples and pears are both members of the Rose family of flowering plants (Rosaceae). Other members of the Rose family which are food crops include almonds, cherries, raspberries and strawberries.