ARCHITECTS GROUP HITS BACK AT COUNCILLOR’S CRITICISMS
The group which have put forward alternative plans for Central Hill estate insist Lambeth council’s housing chairman Cllr Matthew Bennett WAS invited to their recent presentation at Christ Church, Gipsy Hill.
Architects for Social Housing have also hit back at criticisms of them made by Cllr Bennett to News From Crystal Palace.
In a statement ASH told News From Crystal Palace: “Matthew Bennett – who as well as being the Lambeth cabinet member for housing is also the Gipsy Hill ward councillor – was invited with everyone else to our public presentation on the 20th February.
“He, along with other local councillors – chose not to come. “We purposely chose this day to coincide with their own presentation (which they postponed) to ensure the key people involved would be able to be present to hear our presentation.
“We have now indeed been asked to come and present our proposals again to those who were not there on the 20th – such as Cllr Bennett.
“As a pro bono organisation, we don’t have lots of spare time to present something again which we have already presented publicly. “We are currently trying to come to an arrangement in this respect.
“There was not one single aspect home proposed in ASH’s Knights Walk proposals. “Cllr Bennett must have misread the designs, or misunderstands what single aspect means.
“This illustrates the fact that we cannot simply send the Central Hill proposals to Cllr Bennett, as this shows he needs to be taken carefully through the designs and explained them clearly so as not to make similar mistakes in understanding these proposals.”
News From Crystal Palace put the following questions to Cllr Bennett:
News From Crystal Palace: What did you think of ASH’s alternative plans for Central Hill estate?
Cllr Bennett: “They haven’t sent them to us. “We’ve asked them and as soon as we’ve seen them we’ll look at them in exactly the same way as every other proposal has been considered but they need to send them to us first.”
NFCP: Why didn’t you attend the ASH presentation at Christ Church Gipsy Hill?
Cllr Bennett: “I didn’t think it would be helpful and I wasn’t invited.”
NFCP: Why are you only using tick boxes on your documents to respond to your proposals?
(Cllr Bennett then showed us the response leaflet where there is a large box under question seven to make a lengthy reply.)
NFCP: Why wasn’t Lunham Road day centre (where Lambeth showed their proposals on Saturday) available to ASH to hold their presentation meeting?
Cllr Bennett: “I don’t know. “I’ve no idea.”
NFCP: ASH’s proposals add 250 homes to the estate without demolishing any existing homes.
Cllr Bennett: “Obviously we need to look at proposals to see if they stack up.
“We’ve had experience elsewhere in the borough of proposals coming from ASH which can look very positive and when you test them and dig beneath the surface they don’t always stack up so we need to assess them and look at them and see if they are as positive as they are claiming.
“At Knights Walk Kennington they put forward proposals that put forward a tower on open garden space which planners said couldn’t be built on. “Another tower that was considered (was) much too tall and involved building over the top of existing bungalows in a way that when assessed would have delivered a lot of single aspect homes.”
NFCP: Single aspect homes?
Cllr Bennett: “Only facing in one direction, which is not good planning.
“By rebuilding you’re effectively able to take out a mortgage on the new rebuild estate. “Then the rents from that pay off the loan which could be 50 years, could be 60 years. “We’re not at that stage.
“Because the council isn’t profit making it means we can afford to take out these long-term loans and reinvest any potential surplus.
“This is a product of a lengthy period of testing different options with the REP ( Residents Engagement Panel) to make sure that what’s presented today are options that are deliverable and people can have confidence in and that our responses both to a funding crisis for refurbishment and a desperate need for genuinely affordable homes.”