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 implement emergency versions 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 emergency 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 consultation on plans for the permanent Streatham Hill LTN is due in autumn 2020.

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

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.