IDEAS AND INFORMATION
Lambeth Council defaces Macintosh Court
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Lambeth Council has deliberately vandalised Macintosh Court, a Grade II listed building, in spite of eight notifications by the architect.
According to architect Kate Macintosh, after whom the building was renamed, the Council has refused to stop damaging the building and Council officers admit they will ask for retrospective consent.
Macintosh describes Lambeth’s consultation of her as a “cynical exercise in diversionary tactics”.
In May 2015 Macintosh Court, a sheltered housing scheme for over 55s in south London, was saved from demolition when it was given Grade II protection by English Heritage.
In late 2017 the building’s owners, Lambeth Council, left residents in their homes while they embarked on a series of overdue maintenance and remedial works.
However, far from enhancing and rehabilitating the qualities for which the building was listed, the Council embarked on an extensive series of illegal alterations, disfiguring the building.
When the scheme’s original architect Kate Macintosh, now 81, informed the Council’s conservation officers in July of the work, she was ignored.
The work was completed, causing significant further damage to the building.
The case highlights a weakness in planning law where local authorities are expected to act as both judge and jury over planning decisions affecting their own properties.
The council now intends to seek retrospective permission from itself for the illegal work - alterations that Kate Macintosh describes as a “mutilation”.
We are concerned that the Council’s conservation team has already failed to enforce planning law.
In this context we are sceptical of the Lambeth conservation team’s ability to act impartially in assessing a planning application presented by another part of the council.
Docomomo.UK is worried that if this matter is not resolved with a full reversal and repair of the illegal work, it will make a mockery of Listed Building legislation, setting a disastrous precedent and undermining the legislation’s fundamental purpose to protect the nation’s architectural heritage.
The campaign to restore the building has the full support of the Macintosh Residents Association. Alterations made without consent to a listed building risk prosecution under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
However, for Grade II buildings this law is enforced not by Heritage England but by the local planning authority.
Kate Macintosh MBE is a retired architect most renowned for designing south London landmark Dawson’s Heights, a hilltop social housing scheme in the London Borough of Southwark. She worked under Denys Lasdun on the National Theatre project, and subsequently designed public buildings in Hampshire and East Sussex. Oliver Wainwright described Macintosh as “an unsung hero”, and the building as “a Modernist Gem”.
For further information please contact: Philip Boyle Docomomo coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate Macintosh can be contacted on: 01962 842275 or by email at email@example.com
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