Ledbury Estate: Next generation of council housing should be built to last

(06 November, 2019) Editorials

Too often, post war architectural design throws up serious failings

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News that the Ledbury Estate may have to be completely knocked down and rebuilt is creating yet more uncertainty for residents, who had reached a consensus with the council to refurbish.

The spiralling cost and complexity of structural work needed aside, the real story is that across the UK many people living in high-rise blocks are feeling unsure of their future and worried about safety.

And others, like the Ledbury residents “decanted” have had the trauma of effectively losing their homes once, the stress of moving into another, and now hopes largely dashed that they will return to their flats anytime soon. So, what now?

If the council does have to demolish the four Ledbury towers, it will be further evidence that too often post war architectural design throws up serious failings and has a limited life-span. We can’t let this happen again.

The council is one of several throughout the country that says it wants its new social housing to be best in class. It is working on bringing many functions in-house – including re-creating its own building firm.

It is also working closely with architects to create design principles that will agree the fundamentals of what its new housing will look and feel like.

The hope is that the new homes built in the next decade will be a golden age in Southwark’s design – the future Peabody Squares and Bermondsey Spas.

The Ledbury is known for its tight-knit community. It has also become an infamous example of a large-panel tower block that could have been a death trap.

Whatever the council and residents decide, the refurbished or rebuilt estate should be built to last.

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