Cressingham campaigners to seek fourth judicial review

council estate

Cressingham Gardens residents are preparing to take Lambeth council to court for a fourth time in their campaign to stop demolition of the housing estate that overlooks Brockwell Park.

They have renewed their fundraising appeal to pay for the legal costs involved. As of now, the appeal is approaching half way to its £40,000 goal.

And following storm damage to some roofs on the estate, the council’s repair and maintenance standards have been referred to the social housing regulator, with campaigners warning of more possible legal action.

The council plans to knock down and rebuild Cressingham Gardens, along with other housing estates in the borough.

Cressingham residents are also mounting evening “toad patrols” around the estate which is recognised by the Department for Transport as a Toad Crossing, of which there are only two in London. The other is Ham Common near Richmond Park.

Local volunteers have been counting and photographing toads and moving them off roads as they head for Brockwell Park ponds to spawn.

small apartment block
Ropers Walk

The fourth application for a judicial review by campaigners to save the estate is a direct result of their third application for a review.

In July last year, the council cancelled permission that it had agreed earlier for Homes for Lambeth, its wholly owned housing company, to demolish 12 homes in Ropers Walk on the estate.

The council said cancellation and a new planning hearing would be quicker and cheaper than going through the third judicial review of its plans for which campaigners had won permission.

The review would have focused on whether or not the council had properly considered the heritage aspects of its “regeneration” scheme.

A new planning committee hearing once again agreed to the demolition of the homes in Ropers Walk.

But, to deal with the issue raised by campaigners, the new planning application addressed heritage issues raised by its plans to demolish Ropers Walk.

Campaigners said it was no surprise that the council had approved its own planning application, despite it “clearly breaching the human rights” of an 84-year-old resident.

architect cgi
Computer generated image of the building that would replace the demolished Ropers Walk

However, they said, there was a positive side to the application because “the council has finally admitted that Cressingham Gardens is indeed a heritage asset”.

In the light of this, “residents have once again engaged lawyers to submit yet another application to the High Court for a judicial review,” the campaigners said.

“This will be the fourth judicial review application that the community has submitted.

“As before, we will be starting to furiously fundraise again to pay for this legal action.”

A fundraising event is provisionally planned for 14 May.

housing estate in park setting
Cressingham Gardens from Brockwell Park

Recent storm damage to the estate, which saw some flat roofs blown off, led one resident to recall a conversation some years ago with a contractor working on their roof.

When complimented on the standard of work he was doing, the contractor replied that he would not be doing it for long because the council was not happy that he was working to such high standards.

While the roof of the resident who had this conversation is intact and has never leaked since, other roofs on the estate have been blown off on several occasions over the past decade.

Campaigners said the council acknowledged 10 years ago that roofs on the estate needed to be replaced.

One of the council’s initial reasons for the proposed demolition, the campaigners said, was that it could not afford new roofs – “since when do buildings get demolished simply because they need a new roof after 40 years?”

However, “Instead of doing a proper job, or even getting the work down under storm damage insurance, they have had contractors do temporary and patch repairs, such as simply battening down the metal roofs with wooden battens and screws.

“The latest storm clearly showed that this is the height of negligence and very dangerous.

“Three weeks on after the storm, and the council has still failed to cover the roofs with temporary tin hats to prevent rainwater penetration.

“The matter has now been referred to the housing regulators.

“This may yet become another collective legal action by residents depending upon the outcome from the regulators.”