Historical photos of Palace Road Estate – building begins

This is part of a series of blog posts of historical photos of Palace Road Estate. After showing various architects’ models of the estate, we finally move onto the actual construction.

This photo (above) shows a terrace on Coburg Crescent at an early stage of construction. The foundations have been laid and services installed. The characteristic split-level design of most of the houses can already be seen.

Here we see the split-level design on the roadway of Coburg Crescent. The existing houses on Limetree Close can be seen in the background.

Steel reinforcments are put down, ready for pouring the concrete floor slabs.

With the floor slabs laid, building of the walls progresses, with a mixture of blocks and bricks.

Builders meet to discuss their work.

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

Historical photos of Palace Road Estate – designing the flats

This is part of a series of blog posts of historical photos of Palace Road Estate. This time we will look at some detailed models of the blocks of flats. These showed how the flats fitted within the topology of the sloping sites along Palace Road. Viewing the models from different angles helped the architects to understand how the completed buildings would look. A special camera could even be inserted into the models to show the view from within the finished buildings.

This beautiful model, carefully constructed from wood, shows one of the repeated units of flats, now know as houses – Ducavel, Baly, Ponton and Despard. Note the marker at the top left, showing the direction of north.

A similar model, viewed from Palace Road. This model includes the garages that extend below the flats.

A model viewed from the interior of the estate shows the consideration that the architects gave to the presence of the existing trees.

A camera inserted within a model shows a view as would be seen by a person standing on the balcony at the rear of the building.

A view looking along the balcony the other way.

Water main works resume

Residents today received notification that the water main replacement works will resume on Tuesday 26 May. The contractors, MPS – part of Mears Group, request that residents maintain a 2 metre distance from their staff, but give no details of measures that they will be taking to allow their staff to work safely during the pandemia.

The letter delivered to residents today. Click to download the full letter.

Streatham Hill Low Traffic Neighbourhood

Earlier this year the council held an initial consultation on the idea of a ‘low traffic neighbourhood’ in Streatham Hill. A low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) aims to remove or reduce the volume of non-local traffic passing through, while maintaining access for motor vehicles. There are several reasons for doing this:

  • Reduce carbon emissions and help address the climate emergency.
  • Improve air quality. (Air pollution causes thousands of premature deaths each year in London.)
  • Reduce noise levels.
  • Allow children to play in the street again.
  • Reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads. (Currently around 200 people in Lambeth are killed or seriously injured by motor vehicles each year.)

On Friday, the council decided to accelerate the implementation of several LTNs, including the one in Streatham Hill. As well as LTNs, ‘healthy routes’ will be implemented to help people to travel safely on foot and by cycle.

The Streatham Hill LTN is scheduled to be implemented as the fourth LTN (after Oval, Railton and Ferndale), with design starting on 8th June and implementation from 6th July. A statutory consultation period starts on 22nd June.

A map illustrating the current situation in Streatham Hill. The red and orange lines indicate roads that have a high proportion of through traffic. (Click to enlarge image.)

Works resume on the estate

After an extended break, contractors are today returning to continue work on the roofs and concrete of Ducavel and Baly houses. Residents of these blocks were informed of this by letter last Thursday. The letter, from a contracts manager at Engie, outlines some of the measures that will be taken to comply with requirements for safe working and social distancing. These include:

  • Regular monitoring of working practices by the site manager.
  • A full-time welfare attendant keeping the site clean.
  • Staggered lunch breaks.
  • Hand sanitiser stations.

A copy of the letter, courtesy of a resident on Baly House, is provided below.

Historical photos of Palace Road Estate – the community hall

This is part of a series of blog posts of historical photos of Palace Road Estate. This time we show models that were constructed by the architects when they were designing the community hall.

The design of the hall is a contrast to the rest of the estate, having a complex polygonal floor-plan and a pitched roof. The main hall is a tall octagonal space. Attached to it is a set of smaller rooms, including kitchens, offices and toilets.

This model illustrates the design well. The main hall is to the right and the smaller rooms are to the left. The interior is lit through roof-lights and narrow vertical windows. The roof and parts of the walls are clad in natural slate while the main walls are built from bricks that match the rest of the estate.

A view from above.

The wide span of the roof above the hall required careful design. This model shows the roof trusses that were left exposed in the finished building.

Another view of the roof trusses.

The hall was sadly demolished in 2016 to make way for a centre for adults with learning disabilities. At the time of writing in 2020, the construction of this new building has yet to start.

The community hall in around 2010, flanked on the left by similarly radical buildings – a seven sided building to the left (disused) and a two-storey building to the right (a nursery).

Historical photos of Palace Road Estate – the grand plan

This is the first in a series of blog posts of historical photos of Palace Road Estate. These photos are from the London Metropolitan Archives. You can explore their online archive by searching the Collage picture archive. There are many more photographs of the estate there than will be presented in this blog, so do have a look there yourself.

We will start with some photos of architects’ models of the estate before it was built. The estate was designed by architects working at the Greater London Council, under Sir Roger Walters KBE, the Chief Architect. Models were constructed of the whole estate to show how it would fit into the surrounding landscape.

This large model (above) shows the planned estate within the existing built landscape. Layers of board have been used to construct the topology. Although the layout of the estate is very similar to the eventual implementation, there are a few notable differences. For instance, the grounds of the estate merge with the Palace Road Nature Garden and there is a more extensive network of paths within the central grassed area.

A closer view shows more of the detail in this model.

Here is another simpler model that was, perhaps, constructed earlier. The elevation of the land can be seen marked around the edge of the model in metres. We can see that the estate was then known as the Palace Road Extension.

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