The council’s housing company Homes for Lambeth plans to knock down mature trees and the four-storey building and replace it with a part five, part seven-storey block.
The new build would be made up of 31 affordable flats – 22 for social rent and nine for shared ownership.
Locals objected to the plans, along with amenity societies, who urged the council to repair the building, rather than replace it.
The application received hundreds of objections and few comments of support.
Despite this Lambeth’s planning committee approved the plans in October and demolition workers arrived early on Wednesday morning to get to work. But campaigners were blocking their path and asking others to join.
Green Councillor Pete Elliot, a resident of Central Hill Estate, was at the protest.
He told the local democracy service: “The demolition of Truslove House and the Central Hill Estate has been opposed by residents from the outset.
“The council have recklessly driven through their plans under the cover of Covid.
“Lambeth Council have declared a climate emergency and their destructive plans will see the felling of mature trees and demolition of buildings without proper consideration of alternatives or consultation with residents who have not been balloted.”
Cllr Elliott said police arrived earlier but told campaigners that there was no reason for them [police] to be there.
He said: “We made it very clear to them that this was a peaceful protest and that we were taking all precautions we could due to Covid. Unlike some of the contractors.”
But about 15 officers came back in the afternoon and are currently on site (as of 2.30pm, February 10).
Extinction Rebellion Lambeth also called for more support.
They tweeted: “Calling all rebels and non-rebels to come and offer support on the ground in the Central Hill Estate in South Lambeth.
“XRL supports the campaign to refurbish, not demolish! The more presence the stronger we are.”
A spokesman for Lambeth council said: “This activity is vital to our work to provide more affordable housing on the Central Hill estate. Our plans will replace the Truslove House hostel on Roman Rise with 31 new affordable family homes – 21 at council level rent and the remainder shared ownership.
“Homes for Lambeth is ready to get on with the job of building these new homes, and to prepare the site for demolition. The first step, which was started today, is to make the site safe by fencing it off.
“In recent weeks a number of people have pitched tents near the existing building. People are within their rights to protest against this development, but the proposals have resolution to grant planning permission and this action is preventing the work going ahead safely. This is also delaying the work to build these new, affordable homes at Central Hill.
“The tents have been moved away from Truslove House and will be returned to the owners. Temporary fencing is today being put up around the perimeter of the whole site. A more permanent fencing will be erected in the coming days which will allow Homes for Lambeth to undertake some preparatory works, including soil investigations and utility scanning.
“The work being carried out today is vital to this scheme to build these new homes and fully in line with the planning approval granted to the project. The contractors have a right to go about their work without being obstructed.”
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