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Duke row campaigners: ‘Save our buildings and our gardens’

Opponents of Duke of Westminster’s bid to demolish homes: ‘That’s not greening London’

16 August, 2019 — By Briony Pickford

Sarah Fraser: ‘There are large blocks going up, why homogenise the area?’

SIGNIFICANT archit­ecture and gardens will be destroyed if the Duke of Westminster’s plans to knock down a housing estate are approved.

Grosvenor’s Cundy Street and Waldon House redevelopment plan is set to see the demolition of social and affordable housing in Belgravia.

Residents are campaigning against the scheme, calling on the property giant owned by the duke, who is worth an estimated £12billion, to scrap the plans.

Sarah Fraser, 58, a historical biographer who has lived in the flats since 2007, said: “The gardens behind each building are full of mature trees and plants.

Sadiq Khan is trying to promote London as one of the first global garden cities, but these gardens will be torn down in an afternoon. That is not greening London.”

Cundy Street flats

Ms Fraser, who has a PhD in Gaelic poetry, and is the author of The Last Highlander and The Prince Who Would Be King, added: “These buildings are not without merit, there are not a lot of buildings from that time. In Nikolaus Pevsner’s Buildings of [England ] London he says ‘These funny creatures have the upright profiles and coloured cylindrical columns of the fifties, with the long rounded balconies of the thirties used to create a kind of vertical crenellation, and sashes of early Georgian pattern’.”

Ms Fraser said: “If there is a sense of a mix, agriculture and visual environment, as well as a social one, then keep them up – there are large blocks going up all around us that are very similar so why do it again, why homogenise the area? Grosvenor could use this as an opportunity to green them, put green roofs on, do something with the car park.”

She added: “I tried to get the gardens listed but Historic England won’t even accept applications.”

Ms Fraser signed a petition to stop the redevelopment and thinks that Grosvenor should take advantage of this situation to do something positive.

“Even the people around the area don’t want them knocked down. Everyone who comes in to the estate says ‘why do they want to knock it down?’ Our utility costs are not the cheapest but we are prepared to pay the price for what these buildings contribute to the area. They have no intention of saving them.”

A spokesman for Grosvenor said: “We have specifically committed to enhancing/investing in Ebury Square Gardens and Orange Square and also to creating a new urban garden in the Coleshill car park. We have set up a working group with Coleshill residents to gather their ideas and input on this and the first session was held recently.

“Part of our most recent community poll concentrated on opinions relating to sustainability and in our June consultation we confirmed our commitment to investing in and enhancing green space that is open to the entire community, not just residents, as is the case now.”

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