It’s of the largest building projects on Lavender Hill for years: Wandsworth Council has finally got work underway to build new housing in “spare” bits of land in the Gideon Road Estate. Demolition to clear the site happened well over a year ago, but everything then sat abandoned for ages, for reasons no one’s quite managed to pin down. When this first phase of works is complete, a set of garages and parking spaces at the western end of Gideon Road will be replaced with 15 flats and three houses, all of them Council-owned flats and houses, as shown below:
And we’re not talking poky little flats either: some of these run up to six bedrooms. These are mainly for residents who are being moved out of the Winstanley Estate as it gets redeveloped, and the Council’s taking the opportunity of a rare ‘new build’ opportunity to create the large and / or accessible properties that are in particularly short supply. Our future new neighbours will do quite well out of this move, as the new buildings are rather better quality than most on the part of the Winstanley estate that’s being redeveloped, and several of the flats and houses have decent sized gardens. The estate map below will in effect have four new buildings – drawn on in yellow –
There’s nothing especially exciting about the design of the buildings themselves – they’re three storeys high and generally won’t look that different to the Westmoreland Apartments building built on a former school site next door. But from what we’ve seen the build looks of respectable quality, certainly better than some of the other ‘affordable’ developments we have seen put up by private developers – and we should end up with a decent quality development here.
The development will reinstate the surface car parking spaces that were used by residents of Gideon Road, but it won’t replace the lost garages. The reasons for this approach are quite subtle: by using the estate car parking (which was the estate-specific ‘GD’ parking zone) for years, and often having the ability to park on the estate enshrined in their leases, estate residents with have generally acquired permanent legal rights to use the open spaces in estate parking areas (so the Council can’t just sell those off, or build on the spaces, without affecting the property tights of leaseholders). In contrast the garages generally remained in Council ownership and available to rent – which is a commercial activity the Council can decide not to do whenever it likes; no-one can legally claim a long term right to rent a garage. In practice the garages had become rather too small for modern cars and were little used. Obviously the building work has left a long gap with reduced parking space, given that the development spent over a year seemingly on hold, with no progress after the initial demolition work.
These buildings will add to the already eclectic mix of buildings on the estate, which has a rather complicated layout compared to most of the Borough’s 1960s projects. More buildings were originally part of the estate than are currently shown on the estate maps – several of the terraces were also part of the design (as shown on the original architectural plan below), and while the estate works well, it’s a bit hard to see what the original intention was, with buildings, garages and car parking scattered seemingly randomly around the sloping site. The new development will also make the connection to Grayshott Road rather more indirect – adding to the sometimes-confusing network of pathways around the estate (the paths between Tipthorpe Road and Grayshott Road being particularly strangely laid out, with huge ramps, and some paths that seem to go nowhere!).
Here’s a ‘before and after’ of the entrance to the large area of garages and car parking at the back of the Gideon Road estate – the balcony visible on the right in the first photo is part of the privately owned set of flats and houses that were built a few years ago (Westmoreland Apartments).
There are plans for three more buildings to go up, ultimately creating 26 flats and 4 large houses. This map shows roughly where all the new buildings are set to be built – they essentially fill in all the empty spaces in the Gideon Road estate. We understand there was some thought of also ‘filling in the gaps’ directly facing Lavender Hill as well, but this was discarded (just as well, as the large trees would have been cut down, and the three parallel blocks of flats would have lost a great deal of daylight if the area had been built on).
The next one is likely to be the paler yellow one on the map above (occupying the low level garages behind The Crown pub) – which also has planning permission as part of the same scheme, but where there has been no discernible progress.
Two further buildings may also be built to ‘fill in the corners’ of on the courtyard flats on Tyneham Close, though there has been very little progress on these (the original planning permission has potentially already expired) and it’s unclear if these will actually get built. These aren’t the only ‘Winstanley replacement’ buildings; another large block is being built on Battersea High Street just after the railway bridge, and it’s almost finished. It’s an unusual plot – originally garages and workshops, and then considered for a private flats development that never really got off the ground – but then taken over as part of the Winstanley project.
This so far looks like a good quality build, with decent amounts of light and fairly clever use of an awkward piece of land. Some of these flats are pretty smart, with balconies as well as triple-aspect rooms.