Wandsworth Council welcomes “common sense” listing decision

The regeneration of the Alton area in Roehampton has moved a step closer after the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport confirmed that Allbrook House and Roehampton Library will not be listed as buildings of ‘special architectural or historic interest’.

The minister’s final verdict, which was issued yesterday, follows a report by Historic England (formally English Heritage) which concludes that the two buildings are not of sufficient quality for protected status.

Allbrook House and the library are located at the gateway to the Alton Estate, a site which has been earmarked for new homes and modern community facilities including a new library and village green. If they had been listed this key part of the Alton Area Masterplan would have to have been rethought.

The minister’s decision means the council can now proceed with its plans to revive the neighbourhood which have been developed in close consultation with local people and stakeholders over the last two years. The proposals have the unanimous backing of all Wandsworth councillors.

Council leader Ravi Govindia said:

“We are pleased that both the Secretary of State and Historic England share our view and have rejected the listing application. We can now put this expensive waste of time behind us and get on with developing the plans to improve this area and providing the new homes and modern community facilities local people want.

“The fact is that Neither Allbrook House nor the library match the quality of the other protected buildings on the estate. They were not executed as originally planned and create an awkward, unattractive and poorly functioning entrance from Roehampton Lane. At ground floor level they provide dark, isolated spaces which attract anti-social behaviour and cause local people real concern. Common sense has prevailed.”

Historic England’s report lists several “principle reasons” for recommending the listing application be rejected, including:

  • Architectural interest: the relationship between the library and slab lacks cohesion, and the separated nature of their designs has created unpleasant spaces in the piloti undercroft;
  • Fulfilment of function: the gateway piazza was never realised and the positioning of the slab limits, rather than opens-up, lines of sight toward the estate to the west;
  • Alterations to the library: the design intention, internally, has been lost through alterations;
  • Historic interest: the estate as a whole is of international significance for its design and planning, but Allbrook House and the library are not principal elements;
  • Architects: the approach of the LCC and the designs of John Partridge are better represented in the buildings to the west;
  • Group value: the building stands removed from the heart of the estate hence lacks a strong visual relationship with its listed buildings.”

The council’s plans for the Alton area include replacing many outdated homes with high quality properties set around a much improved environment, a stronger local economy and with modern community facilities. All existing council tenants and homeowners living on the estate are being offered the chance to stay and share in the area’s revival.

Over the course of this project hundreds of additional properties would also be built, including more homes for social rent and shared ownership.

For more information and to sign up for e-newsletters all about the regeneration project visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/roehampton