If you haven’t been keeping with the Alton Regeneration Watch (ARW) Twitter feed you may have missed the various articles about Allbrook House and the Roehampton Library in the media. The articles are listed below and each can be read if click on them;
An article by Greg Pitcher, ‘Leading architects call on council to save post-war LCC housing block’ (10 January 2018), was within The Architects’ Journal.
An Article by Geraint Franklin, ‘Allbrook House and Roehampton Library, London’ (January 2018), was within the Twentieth Century Society.
An article by Barnabas Calder, ‘Britain’s most important 20th-century housing is under threat’ (December 2017), was within the Apollo Magazine.
A reminder of what the buildings look like are below.
Alton Conservation Area Appraisal & Management Strategy
Something which didn’t quite seem to make any sense was how the proposed demolition came about given the positive comments in the past of from the ‘Alton Conservation Area Appraisal & Management Strategy’ which stated the following comments;
“There are however some buildings that do have architectural interest outside the conservation area such as Allbrook House and Roehampton Library”. (page 8)
“3.14 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”. (page 12)
“4.29 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)”. (page 19)
“6.9 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”. (page 28)
1.3 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”. (page 44)
Redeveloping Danebury Avenue What Roehampton Wants….Labour Survey regarding previous regeneration attempt
With regards to the previous regeneration attempt on the Alton Estate, the Labour Party conducted a survey of residents on the Alton Estate and the results were published in the document ‘Redeveloping Danebury Avenue, What Roehampton Wants’. Interestingly, the Labour Party did not conduct any such survey this time around and it is wandered what the reason(s) are for not doing so, especially given that presently the ward has three Labour Party Councillors since 2014 these being Councillor Peter Carpenter, Councillor Jeremy Ambache and Councillor Sue McKinney. The feedback contained within the report stated;
“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”. (page 3)
“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”. (page 3)
To highlight the “landmark” comment in pictures, have a look at the following photos.
This is taken from Roehampton High Street.
Conservation review 2010
Earlier in this article within the Alton Conservation Area Appraisal & Management Strategy there was a mention of this review within the Boundary Review comment. At the Strategic Planning and Transportation Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting (18 November 2010) the following was discussed “Background. The Council has a 5 year programme for updating appraisals of the Borough’s 45 conservation areas. In the fifth year, the conservation areas were divided into two groups. The first five appraisals were reported in February 2010 (Paper No. 10- 211) and the second and final four appraisals are being reported to this Committee”. (Paper 10-876).
What is very interesting about this is that in 2010 one of the current ward Councillors was supportive in trying to extend the Alton conservation Area to protect these buildings, as the following comments highlight (Appendix 2 to Paper No. 10-876, Consultation comments);
“Comment from Councillor Carpenter:
a) 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.
b) The Council could produce a leaflet on conservation areas and listed buildings so people understand them better.
c ) It was clear from the meeting that there is general opposition to plans for demolition of the eastern end of Danebury Ave. It should be remembered that there were earlier plans for a more sensitive refurbishment of the area which had greater support from residents”.
Allbrook House and Roehampton Listing attempt
In 2015 there was an attempt to list these buildings through Historic England. MP Greening wrote in favour of not supporting the listing though there was no such comments, supportive or not, from the three Labour ward Councillors and the question is, “why not?”.
Where are we now?
The buildings (Harbidge Ave, Allbrook House, Roehampton Library) mentioned in Councillor Carpenter’s comments in point (a) above are all proposed for demolition as part of this current regeneration scheme. With the 2018 Local Council elections coming up, one has to ask whether voting for Labour or the Conservatives will make any difference?
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