Lambeth council and property developer slammed by community group and campaigners against ‘Hondo Tower’ in Brixton for ignoring Grade-II listed building

A town hall has been accused of ignoring a Grade-II listed building and a recognised community group in its planning assessment for a 20-storey tower.

Lambeth council has come under fire after plans to build an office block tower in the middle of Brixton, known as Hondo tower, allegedly failed to properly address the impact on the Grade-II listed Brixton Recreation Centre (BRC). 

The Brixton Recreation Users Group (BRUG) says the council failed to consult it on the impact the new tower block might have on the local community which uses the centre.

They also say the public report into the proposed development makes little mention of the direct impact of the tower on the BRC, even though it will be 70 metres away in Pope’s Road.

The Rec is home to many community activity groups, including the Afewee Training Centre, Topcats basketball club and Xpozure dance club.  

Steadman Scott, founder of Afewee and coach of England right-back footballer Nathaniel Clyne, said: “How will this office tower help the young black people who use the Rec? Will the 2000 office workers want to use the Rec and end up excluding the local community, like Pop Brixton and Brixton Village have done?” 

In 2016, after a campaign supported by the BRUG, it was listed by Historic England as “a building of architectural and historic interest”. Historic England also objected to the new development.

There are also concerns the tower will not meet demand for office space in an area not traditionally known for office workers. 

This could potentially leave Hondo Enterprises with the option of converting the tower into residential units without the need for planning permission from the council under the government’s new permitted development rights. 

Helen Hayes, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, whose constituency includes Brixton, has objected to the development on multiple grounds.

She said: “There is no evidence to suggest that there will be demand for 20 storeys of workspace in central Brixton, at the level of rent required to support a new tall building, in the foreseeable future. 

“These issues would be solely a matter of risk for the applicant, were it not for the current government’s policy relating to the expansion of permitted development rights.  

“Under current planning policy, a building owner can convert an office or industrial building into a residential building without the need for a planning application.”

The development has been put forward by Hondo Enterprises, which purchased Brixton Market in 2018.

A Hondo Enterprises spokesman said: “Hondo Enterprises and their award-winning architects Adjaye Associates have submitted revisions for their application for Pope’s Road. 

“This development will provide a new landmark building that will deliver significant economic, cultural and social benefits for central Brixton.”

Artist impression of a spoken word night in the tower

Lambeth council’s planning committee met in August to vote on the development, but deferred the vote to a date yet to be confirmed.

A Lambeth council spokesman said: “Planning applications in Lambeth are highlighted in a number of ways, including on street notices and in local newspaper adverts, as has been the case with this application.

“We also keep a GDPR compliant list of local groups who have asked to be notified when applications are submitted in the borough. The Brixton Rec Users Group have not asked to be on this list.

“Brixton Rec’s listed status is acknowledged in the council’s report and an impact assessment has been carried out by the council’s conservation officer.”

Nearly 6,000 people have signed a petition in opposition of the tower and the new deadline for residents to object to the development is today.

A spokeswoman for BRUG said: “The Brixton Recreation Centre on Brixton Station Road has not been mentioned in the planning assessment of heritage assets compiled by the Lambeth Council Planning team, and contributed to by Hondo Enterprises.

“The BRUG were not aware of any process by which they needed to apply for the right to be consulted about local planning applications and given the close proximity of the Rec to the site of the proposed development, feel that after years of working with Lambeth should have been consulted anyway.”

Pictured top: An artist impression of the tower in Pope’s Road, Brixton (Picture: Hondo Enterprises)

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