Allbrook House – ‘object of beauty’ or ‘act of sabotage’ the Council discusses

Intro

To read the answer read Item 7 of the following link –

 Questions to the Leader of the Council

Some thoughts which need to be highlighted with regards to this question and answer are as follows. It would be good to have some feedback from residents regarding this

1.Mention of the Library building?

Councillor Sweet seems to have forgotten to mention the Alton Estate Library building, which was also part of the listing.

2.Putney Society, previously opposed a listing? Think again….

Unfortunately, what Councillor Ravi Govinidia seems to be unaware of is that the Putney Society supported the listing of Allbrook House and the Library building. Not only did the Putney Society support the listing but so too did the Roehampton Forum Management Committee and the Alton Regeneration Watch.

The Putney Society has been in favour of listing the building for some time, perhaps the Councillors need to do some homework and have a read of past comments.

“a) Allbrook House, the library and the open space should be included in the Conservation Area. They are also candidates for local listing” (Source: Wandsworth Borough Council Paper 10-876 Appendix 2)

“If the five slab blocks adjoining Clarence Lane are worthy of being listed Grade II*, then the similarly detailed Allbrook House should be considered for listing by English Heritage. It is equally distinguished” (Source: Putney Society response regarding regeneration 19 September 2012)

“The Society played its part in the review, three years ago, of the Alton Estate conservation area. One conclusion of that review was that the boundary of the conservation area should be extended to take in Roehampton Library and Allbrook House above it, together with the green space and established trees between these buildings and Roehampton Lane. We believe that this view is shared by many in Roehampton. These buildings are, we consider, worthy of being added to the council’s local list of buildings of architectural and historic interest: they are a distinctive composition enhancing the entrance to the Alton Estate at this point. If the five slab blocks adjoining Clarence Lane are worthy of being listed Grade II*, then the similarly detailed Allbrook House should be considered for listing by English Heritage. It is equally distinguished”. (Source: Putney Society response regarding regeneration 19 September 2012)

3. ‘Object of beauty’ where did that come from?

The Councillors seem to be unaware of what the criteria is for listing. The criteria is;

  1. Special value within certain types, either for architectural or planning reasons or as illustrating social and economic history (for instance, industrial buildings, railway stations, schools, hospitals, prisons, theatres).
  2. Technological innovation or virtuosity (for instance cast iron, prefabrication, or the early use of concrete).
  3. Group value, especially as examples of town planning (for instance, squares, terraces or model estates).
  4. Association with well-known characters or events

(Source: Wandsworth Borough Council website , Accessed 18th August 2015]

Where does the ‘object of beauty’ fit in?

4.“Councillor Ellis and I have made representations to the Secretary of State that Allbrook House does not meet Historic England’s listing criteria”

Unbelievable, Councillor Ellis is the Chair, yes, the Chair, of the Roehampton Partnership and a member of the Council Executive and yet he never mentioned this in the Roehampton Partnership meetings. The most recent meeting was 23rd September 2015 and comments for listing deadline was 31st August 2015. Seriously, this was not worth a mention? Or even sharing with the other members of the Roehampton Partnership whom responsibility it is to have “openness” and “leadership”. Given the impact on the regeneration, this is must be discussed, yet hasn’t, as the regeneration is plastered all over point 1 of the constitution “aims and objectives”. (Source: Terms of Reference).

What a joke………………………………………

Added to this, why has the Alton Regeneration Watch’s representations not yet been added to the Minutes of the Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting Tuesday, 22nd September, 2015, Item 4 when all other items appear to have been added to the website? The listing was mentioned then, yet the first mention in a Council document is within this question 7?

5.“The ward councillors also support the need to implement the programme in this way”.

Hmmm……the Putney Labour Party has expressed support for these buildings in the past so one has to ask how such a u-turn take place?

“The whole council plan rests on the demolition of Allbrook House, the “landmark” block above Roehampton Library. This is the one question where there was no majority opposition to the council plan, but a clear plurality – 45% – don’t want the block demolished. Barely a third – 34% – supported demolition and a sizeable number – 21% – didn’t feel able to give a view. We had 21 surveys back from the parts of Danebury Avenue, including Allbrook House, under threat of demolition. Of these, 4 supported demolition and 14 opposed it.

 It’s a great shame that the Council never even considered improving Allbrook House, which contains some large properties within it with spectacular views of Roehampton. Recladding or even more radical remodelling of Allbrook House could transform this block – the gateway to the Alton estate”. (Source: Putney Labour Party “What Roehampton Wants” 2008)

Note the word “landmark”…….

Then more recently, in 2010;

“Comment from Councillor Carpenter:

  1. Recommends redrawing the boundary of the CA to include Harbidge Ave, Allbrook House, Roehampton Library and the green in Alton West; and the Cornerstone and low odd numbered buildings on Alton Road in Alton East for their architectural interest. ” (Source: Wandsworth Borough Council Paper 10-876 Appendix 2)

The ward’s Councillors are hardly supporting the local community’s wishes for as mentioned local community groups have supported this listing.

6.Past comments made by the Council.

Councillor Govindia stated in his answer that “it is clear that the building can hardly be described as an object of beauty or, in listing parlance, an object of national historic or architectural significance”. Much like the ward’s Councillors past comments do not share this view.

In 2006 –

”Allbrook House and Roehampton Library form a notable element of the Alton Estate at the main entrance to the estate, close to Danebury Avenue’s junction with Roehampton Lane. Although arguably of architectural interest, neither building is listed nor in the Alton Conservation Area. There is no statutory protection therefore, but there is a general UDP objective to retain and rehabilitate buildings which contribute to the character of the Borough, and English Heritage and others may be lobbied to support their retention, and may do so”. (Source: Wandsworth Borough Council Paper 06-773)

In 2010 –

 “is a bespoke design with an unusual roof shape and innovative natural lighting (designed by LCC architect John Partridge, who later became significant in private practice)”. (Source: Wandsworth Borough Council Paper 10-876)

The following comments are from the Alton Conservation Area Appraisal & Management Strategy which had much to say about the positive contribution to the estate these buildings provided both from their relationship to the estate and as buildings in their own right[ii];

“The shopping parade in Danebury Avenue, completed in 1959-60 and the library, in 1961, are outside the conservation area. The library has architectural interest, distinguished in part by its curved walls and undulating roof form but also by the associated (though detached) Allbrook House which seems to float above – it too has an interesting form and details, including decorative block detailing to its balconies which unifies and softens the harshness of the structure. The library was one of the last buildings in the original development of Alton West. It was designed by John Partridge of the London County Council (LCC) Architect’s Department incorporating ideas from Wandsworth Council’s library service. It was opened in September 1961 by the children’s author Noel Streatfield. There was originally a mural by Bill Mitchell in resin and plastics”.

“Some buildings outside the conservation area have an influence on the area’s character, particularly noticeable along Harbridge Avenue, just off Danebury Road, where there are shops, the library and Allbrook House (all of which fall outside the conservation area)”

“Generally, those buildings that fall outside the conservation area do not have the same architectural rigour or quality of those that are within. There are however, buildings in the vicinity of this character area – Allbrook House and Roehampton Library – that are of interest in terms of their architectural presence and relationship to the Alton Estate. The presence and connection of these buildings to the north-eastern edge of the estate makes them difficult to go unnoticed – though outside the conservation area, their impact is complementary due to their applied architectural treatment and form, directly linked to the modernist principles established for Alton West, namely monumentality and originality”

“As part of the appraisal process, the boundaries of the Alton Estate Conservation Area were reviewed and considered to be acceptable. However, during the public consultation people strongly urged the Council to extend the conservation area to include areas including Allbrook House and its green space, Roehampton Library and buildings along Danebury Avenue. At its Strategic Planning and Transportation Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 18 November 2010, the Council undertook to consider further research on this matter”.

“Examples of other impressive but unlisted individual buildings are: Ibstock Place School, Maryfield Convent, Cedars Cottages and Hartfield House. Generally, those areas that fall outside the conservation area simply do not have the same consideration, in terms of architectural or historic interest and care of detailing and landscaping that are strong and consistent with those that fall within the conservation area. There are however some buildings that do have architectural interest outside the conservation area such as Allbrook House and Roehampton Library”.

Councillor Govindia, would you like to reconsider your view (and this time include a mention of the Library Building)?

7.Comments from the Twentieth Century Society

Roeregeneration will leave you with the following comments from Twentieth Century Society which highlight that there are bodies that are non-local which support protecting these buildings, and this is one example;

“Allbrook House and Danebury (Roehampton) Library and their immediate setting, ie the car park, open land adjacent to the two buildings and 1-115 Danebury Avenue, should be added to the conservation area.

These serve as a strong link between Alton East and Alton West. Allbrook House was built as a later phase of Alton West, but is very closely reminiscent of the vocabulary used in the Grade II* listed blocks on Highcliffe Drive.

The library and retail units in Danebury Ave demonstrated an aspect of the LCC’s approach that is not ‘documented’ elsewhere on the estate. The library is of interest in its own right having a distinguishing roof form and was designed by John Partridge, Roy Stout and Tom Kay who became significant architects in private practice.

The Twentieth Century Society has objected to two successive applications for redevelopment of these buildings in 2009 as it believes the loss of this part of the Alton Estate would be deeply regrettable”. (Source: Wandsworth Borough Council Paper 10-876 Appendix 2)

 Related documents/articles

Contact

Email us at – roeregeneration@yahoo.com – and let us know of any concerns/thoughts you may have or add a comment at the end of the blog entry in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section.

Or email your Roehampton and Putney Heath Councillors at;

Peter Carpenter – pcarpenter@wandsworth.gov.uk

Jeremy Ambache – JAmbache@wandsworth.gov.uk

Sue McKinney – SMcKinney@wandsworth.gov.uk

Or email the Wandsworth Council team managing the ‘regeneration’

Team Roehampton – Roehampton@wandsworth.gov.uk

 

 

 

 

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