The Society met in the Library on 26th July for its Annual General Meeting. The officers of Chair, Treasurer and Secretary were re-elected, and there was a fascinating talk from Connor McNeil of the Victorian Society, which the ACS has now affiliated to. We also got an update on the HMO issue in Lewisham.
The Victorian Society
Connor told us that the Society was created in the late 1950’s, when pretty much anything Victorian was seen as fussy and out of date – and sadly, ripe to be pulled down. Lady Anne Rosse and several like-minded individuals including John Betjeman decided something had to be done to try to preserve Victorian and Edwardian buildings, and the Society was founded in Lady Rosse’s house in Kensington (Lindley Sambourne House).
Initially they weren’t able to make much headway, and several important buildings were demolished, but gradually they had more success: St Pancras Station and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office were saved from the bulldozers.
Connor covers south London as a caseworker, and has to get through over 2,000 planning applications a year! He talked us through the trials and tribulations of a local case he’s been working on – Ladywell Baths – which he described as “a marvellous public building in neo-Gothic style”. It’s been the victim of fires, vandalism and neglect, but amazingly is still standing. There was a plan to turn it into a cinema by the Curzon group a few years ago but that fell through. Now, a new cinema chain has submitted plans, which the Society supports, and hopefully work will begin soon.
Connor said that the preference is always for a disused building to be returned to its former use, but when that isn’t possible, the Society is pragmatic and works with architects to deliver the best restoration possible.
We at the ACS are invited to go on walks organised by the Victorian Society, and get more involved. They may be able to help us get more official recognition for Corbett’s Estates.
HMOs on the Estate
Local resident Ann Coppinger worked with Jeanette Kenyon and others to create a very strong campaign to get the Council to recognise the impact large-scale HMO development is having on the Estate. In the last couple of weeks, following lots of work cataloguing examples of poor developments, and gathering signatures for a petition, the campaign group met with key figures at the Council, who were persuaded of the gravity of the situation. They said they would now seek Article 4 status for the whole borough – not just certain wards – and hoped to have it implemented by October next year. We thanked Ann and the team for all their brilliant work.