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
Ken Powell's new study explores an enigmatic, unconventional architectural practice in which, "despite its reputation for egalitarianism, the force of key personalities underpinned the finest buildings". Click on the image to see sample pages.
TOWERS FOR THE WELFARE STATE
Stefan Muthesius and Miles Glendinning's vast study traces the debates about tower blocks and the complexities of planning, construction and naming, and details the high-rise history of every major city and town in England and Scotland. See Amazon.
ALISON AND PETER SMITHSON
Mark Crinson's insightful book about how two architectural outsiders became "the greatest insiders of a new kind of architectural culture in Britain". With a foreword by Docomomo trustee Tony Fretton. Click on the image to see sample pages.
MUNICIPAL DREAMS: THE RISE AND FALL OF COUNCIL HOUSING
John Boughton's reappraisal of council housing presents an alternative history of Britain, emerging from the ambition to end slum living and the ideals of a new society. Click picture.