St. Raphael’s Estate: ASH presentation to the Bartlett School of Architecture (housing design research workshop)

In April 2019 Architects for Social Housing was invited by Murray Fraser, Professor of Architecture and Global Culture and Vice-Dean of Research at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, to be part of an experts group to advise his team in the Centre for London Urban Design (CLOUD) on a design research project being funded by the European Union, and in which they are looking at comparative proposals for ‘socially-mixed housing’ in London and Gothenburg.

The meeting was held on 17 May, and in addition to ASH, had representatives from HTA Architects (which has been complicit in the demolition and redevelopment of the Ferrier, South Acton, Waltham Forest, Kender, Aylesbury, Ebury Bridge, Ravensbury, New Avenue and Clapham Park estates), Levitt Bernstein Architects (which has been complicit in the demolition and redevelopment of the Aylesbury, Eastfields, Winstanley, York Road and Rayners Lane estates), Macreanor Lavington Architects (which has been complicit in the demolition and redevelopment of the Heygate and Alma estates), Public Practice (which on behalf of the Greater London Authority is overseeing the placement of property developers in the planning departments of London council), Ben Adams Architects (which has been complicit in the conversion through permitted development of office space into slum housing), Peynore and Prasad Architects and White Arkitekter. As you can imagine, our reception was a little frosty.

The CLOUD design research project subsequently settled on the Upton Gardens redevelopment in Newham as a case study in how to design and build better than Barratt Developments PLC. In response, ASH suggested that, rather than look at alternatives to a development that had received planning permission from Newham Labour council to build its mix of half a million-pound market sale and shared ownership properties in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in London, it would be useful to place the Bartlett’s skills in the service of a project in which there is still some hope of building housing that meets  local need and incomes.

Professor Murray agreed, and in October 2019 he invited ASH to present to a housing design research workshop at the Bartlett School of Architecture on the St. Raphael’s estate in Brent, which is threatened with demolition by the Labour council, and whose campaign ASH has been advising since April 2019. These are the slides of that presentation.

Architects for Social Housing

2 thoughts on “St. Raphael’s Estate: ASH presentation to the Bartlett School of Architecture (housing design research workshop)

  1. Thinking St Raphael’s Estate from the South Kilburn Estate Brent pathfinder year 19 with lessons learned.

    Brent estate put downs

    Since 1979 all Brent estates have been put down and mis-managed towards dispose all futures, this to varying degrees. In South Kilburn the estate put down is in year 41 and in this claimed “regeneration of people as well as place” in year 19 this estate is September 2019 still stuck in the 10% most deprived areas in the country! (Brent officers are apparently told to ignore government multiple deprivation data).

    At a guess St Raphael’s is likewise put down for 41 years, but why should this be so for all Brent social housing estates? The issue is public land liquidation.

    A land war, causing Brent estates to be disappeared and denied

    South Kilburn Estate since 1979 has been re-designated as super prime land for liquidation, clearnaces and sale to market bit-by-bit. The South Kilburn Estate of 6000 people was never registered in its diverse land uses at the UK Land Registry and instead kept vulnerable as ‘land’ with a few leaseholder names and addresses on a list. Brent Master Developer land trading is carried out using pre 1947 land uses titles and maps of Victorian houses long demolished and unseen by local people of today. The utopian socialist South Kilburn Estate (completed in 1975) never existed for Estate Dispose All officers and colonial developers of today merely trading surplus super prime public ‘waste’ land instead.

    Regarding St Raphael’s Estate, it is very doubtful that its complex communal land uses either are registered by Brent Master Developer at the UK Land Registry? St Raphael’s is also likely to be waste surplus public land with a few leaseholder names and addresses to mitigate.


    Brent self declared itself to be a Master Developer in 2016. In South Kilburn you can visit new private market enclosures (with replacement social rent housing) and ask former tenants exactly what they think? What you stand to get and not get is Brent here to see for yourselves today.

    However, at St Raphael’s what tenants there must notice is Wembley Park Mega City (Brent Quintain Developer) steamrollering east towards them like a heard of elephants. An extremely asymmetrical power dynamic is fixed in place. Decision makers designating a none community is easy; the rest is games to get all that public land to market and private enclosed! St Raphael’s to be run over?


    St Raphael’s is (en-mass) walking distance to Brent Civic Centre where Brent Quintain development operates on Brent social Lab-a-Tory from. South Kilburn is nearer to the UK Parliament than Brent Civic Centre and so was always easier to Local put down and abuse- Government, GLA, City of Westminster less so.


    The only option for St Raphael’s is to have a very powerful Area Housing Board for the entire estate (funding, independent legal advice and accurate minutes). Don’t accept estate de-generation as the weather anymore- tenants need to protect what they have in life today and to formally contest their community’s being for developer denied as waste, surplus and put down for dispose all.

    In South Kilburn there is a small 1970s area of 60 family houses (very St Rachael’s in look). During South Kilburn’s 4 year Masterplan consultation 2001-2004 ballot, this small area resisted demolition and lobbied successfully. These people now live in 60 for social rent houses in what developer’s now call Maida Vale, the punishment being that these social rent properties have not been externally re-decorated for 41 years and neither has the adopted road outside them been re-surfaced for 41 years- all apparently within the law? A St Raphael’s Area Housing Board can avoid such extreme put down punishments like this one being imposed on it by Brent Master Developer.

    Anti-planning is strong policy in Brent, for example the South Kilburn Masterplan was Brent unilaterally cancelled in 2017 with Core Policy 9 of Brent Local Plan (2010) for major green and community infrastructure investments to support a pending trebling of population South Kilburn none actioned. 2020 there is no plan and no deal with estate residents, just a mono-development agenda to take all land and build a Nowhere and Nothing of maximum profit, many towers, and many new roads.

    Another point of alarm is that new private market flat/affordable gated enclosures do not engage with their surroundings. The existing estate community they rudely see as none existing very much a Master Developer dispose all rule of the estate denial game. It’s year 19 harsh and cruel more like a colonial siege and there are 32 new sites still to go!

    Some St Raphael’s hope is offered by the way C21 Brent is socially partitioned by Master Developer. There is a protected chosen ‘Brent Community’ of conservation areas, hyper socialist where so called creative’s live and where regeneration of Brent peoples lives and places actually happens- ready for Brexit. Then there is in parallel process a ‘Brent Dispose All’ where places and people are denied existence, disabled socially and where there is only harsh coloniser development total extraction mining of British Land.

    Can a powerful St Raphael’s Area Housing Board force a switch to St Raphael’s being managed as ‘Brent Community’ by Brent Master Developer and then being regenerated as a people and a place as Brent conservation areas aways are- this rather than remain stuck in a without hope ‘Brent Dispose All’ area future? – A simple twist of fate.

    Good luck and blessings

  2. Magic and loss

    In 2004 South Kilburn had 2,600 properties- (2001 census population 7,147). In 2020 South Kilburn has 4,516 properties (FOI) – (2020 population is over 10,000)

    Brent Kilburn is an enormous UK record breaker sized council ward! Growth Area properties doubling will be met soon; with a beyond trebling of properties highly likely given 32 new sites and with greed apparently being the only designer and planner available.

    Estate social cohesion infrastructure beauty ‘disposed of as public waste’ since 1979 from the South Kilburn Estate community architect plan designed for social well being includes; a high school; a college of further education; a Job Centre; a primary school; two swimming pools; a large public open space green lung with category A plane trees; a 52 unit estate small business enterprise centre; a cinema; two sports centres; an NHS health centre; a social services day centre for children with learning difficulties; two nursery schools; a Royal British Legion Club; a 30 mature tree woodland roundabout and numerous other estate public open spaces, children’s play areas and public squares- today all disposed of and private market enclosed – a tremendous loss of community life.

    We are on a road to zero social and green infrastructure, in 2020 Carlton Granville Community Centre has planning permission to have flats built in it (a key phase towards its total dispose all), while Brent Kilburn’s 1.8 hectare only park size (open 24/7 park) is under disposal threat along with its two adjacent never regeneration invested in (it’s year 19) schools also become land ‘waste disposals’.

    Population growth will degrade and extinguish community life, health and wellbeing- that is the Colonial Masters culture.

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