New homes for Battersea approved despite fears of community division

By Sian Bayley, Local Democracy Reporter

A day centre on the Surrey Lane Estate in Battersea will be demolished to make way for 106 new homes, despite concerns that the move could cause issues with ‘community cohesion’.

The scheme, brought forward by Wandsworth council, will provide 49 new affordable homes, split into 27 social rent units, and 22 shared ownership homes.

However, local ward councillors have expressed concerns about the plans.

Conservative councillor Rhodri Morgan said local people wanted a new community centre for the estate.

“Very sadly since the start of 2017 two young men have been killed on Surrey Lane. To have lost two young men is a tragedy for the Surrey Lane community, I think we all have to understand that.”

He added that the new development could create a “feeling of division in the area,” and that it will act as a “gated community.”

Labour councillor Emily Wintle agreed.

She said in a resident survey, 97 per cent of people were “unaware and unhappy with the proposed Randall Close development”.

She raised issues with the removal of a car park, demolition of the day centre, relocation of a play area and the removal of mature trees.

She also said the “proposed gated green spaces” would “not only segregate other Surrey Lane residents but also create and foster a two-tier community of ‘us’ and ‘them’, with the current Surrey Lane residents being the poor cousin.”

She added: “To put in this kind of development with the segregation of residents will only cause polarisation and lead to increased levels of discontent.

“As a council we should not be going forward with such a development  when there is such strong opposition.”

Officer Nigel Granger, from the council’s housing department, explained that the ‘gated community arrangement’ only involved security access.

He said: “The people using that gate would also be entering Surrey Lane, so the estate as a whole and the improved public square, and they could be going through this particular security arrangement in order to provide the new flats with some defensible space so their quality of life and future amenity is preserved.”

He added: “There is a nuance to what is actually being proposed in this instance and the advice from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Crime Prevention Design Adviser, which was supported by other facets of the council in terms of the CCTV operators, they supported these arrangements and that’s why they have been incorporated into the proposal overall.”

After concerns that residents had not been consulted enough during the pandemic, Cllr Tony Belton proposed a motion to defer the scheme.

He said: “I think the scheme is actually rather good in all sorts of ways, well designed, looks good, but we’re in terrible danger of getting it very wrong with lots of people being very much opposed to it.

“I don’t think the council can afford to get it wrong, it will be all sorts of mayhem.”

The proposal failed, with four votes in favour and six votes against.

Battersea MP Marsha Da Cordova said: “The passing of the Randall Close development by Wandsworth council, is disgraceful but not surprising. The development will see residents lose essential parking spaces, a day centre and will see the breaking up of their community in place of a majority private gated development to be dropped right in the heart of the community.

“Not only is the development itself fraught – with only 27 out of 106 units going to social rent – but the Tory council’s treatment of the residents of Surrey Lane is quite frankly shameful. The council ran a ‘consultation’ in the midst of a lockdown, initially sent only 12 letters to residents informing them of the development, ignored a survey of residents that showed that 97 per cent of them wanted a community centre and threw out a petition of 346 signatures, because according to Tory Cllr Ellis there is always someone who objects.”

Pictured top: An artist’s impression of what the new development could look like

 

 


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