The following letter from SGP member Tracey Beresford appears in the current (winter 2016/17) issue of the Camberwell Quarterly, and is published by kind permission of the Camberwell Society. The CQ is widely available at local newsagents. See also the Camberwell Society's Facebook page.
Green space gives way to more housing
Penelope Gretton is right to question the architectural merit of new homes being built at “Elmington Green”, formerly part of the Elmington Estate (CQ autumn issue).
There are other causes for concern, too. Elmington Green will have 89 “residential units” on a site that was occupied by around 60 council homes. This higher density of housing has been achieved partly by reducing green space and felling eight trees, including two mature silver maples and a Norway maple (shown in the photograph). An arboricultural report commissioned by the developers Bellway said their loss would be a “minor alteration” resulting in only a “low magnitude of impact on the … local landscape”.
Of the 89 new homes, 22 are to be socially rented (according to information supplied by Cllr Mark Williams, Southwark’s cabinet member for regeneration) – a net loss of almost 40 council homes. Bellway’s website describes the development as suitable for “families, first-time buyers, investors and professionals” (my italics). No prices are yet given, but it’s reasonable to assume that properties built for private ownership will be unaffordable to local people and that many will be sold as buy-to-let investments.
It is in no one’s interest for Camberwell to become a place where only the well-off can afford to live. Neither should we have to accept the loss of green space as a price worth paying to meet demand for housing. Without council homes and without trees we cannot thrive as a community.