Palace Road Estate in bloom

Parts of the estate burst into colour yesterday, thanks to Pinnacle who came to plant four areas with flowers.

The planting was an apology from Pinnacle who had mowed areas where residents had planted snowdrops. These flowers are perennials, so residents should be able to enjoy colourful displays in winter/spring for many years to come.

The bank between Coburg Crescent and the South Circular is also looking beautiful with its regular display of crocuses.

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 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

Fire safety update

The Regulator of Social Housing has identified failures by Lambeth Council to meet statutory health and safety requirements relating to fire safety, gas safety and asbestos management. The regulatory notice can be read here.

Regarding fire safety, Lambeth Council was found by the regulator to have “a significant number of overdue remedial actions arising from fire risk assessments [FRAs].” The regulator considered Lambeth’s case to be a breach of the “Home Standard” because of the “breadth and scale of the failure” and the “longstanding nature of the issues”. The regulator concluded that Lambeth Council “did not have an effective system in place to allow it to manage the risk of tenant safety and meet its statutory health and safety responsibilities across a range of areas.”

The regulator acknowledges that improvements have been made over the last six months and that the council has “significantly accelerated the pace with which it is progressing on remedial works.”

Overdue actions from FRAs is something that PRERA became aware of for Palace Road Estate back in December 2018.

Earlier this year, PRERA brought concerns about these overdue actions to the attention of senior housing staff in Lambeth Council and the Cabinet Member for Housing. In May 2019, the council’s (Interim) Fire Safety Manager visited Palace Road Estate and was helping to see that pending actions were scheduled for implementation. PRERA has requested an update on the current status of actions arising from FRAs for Palace Road Estate. Once we have received this information, we will provide an update through this blog.

Maintaining our fruit trees

Many thanks to Robert and Thomas from the Open Orchard Project who kindly dropped by the estate this morning to care for some of our young fruit trees. They pruned the trees to improve their shape and to encourage healthy growth, they topped up the soil and they re-secured the protective cages.

Robert and Thomas are keen to collaborate with residents to come up with an ongoing maintenance programme for our young fruit trees. This will help to ensure that the trees are strong and healthy. If you would like to be involved with this, do get in touch with PRERA.

Wanted: New PRERA Chair

The Chair of PRERA, Michelle Baker, has decided to step down from the role at the end of October. That means that there is a vacancy to be filled. All residents are eligible for the role. Would you be interested?

The Chair has the following main responsibilities:

  • Guide PRERA to achieve its objectives.
  • Chair meetings and act as a spokesperson for PRERA.
  • Prepare agendas for meetings, with input from other committee members.
  • Ensure that other committee members carry out their allotted tasks.

Contact us if you are interested in this role or would like to find out more.