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Monday, 7 December 2015


Charity plans to demolish early social housing in Chelsea

The Victorian Society is objecting to Affinity Sutton Homes’ application to demolish Sutton Dwellings - a 1913 social housing scheme in Chelsea. The attractive mansion blocks were the largest social housing estate in London when built. Affinity’s replacement social and private scheme would provide less social housing than currently. The society argues that the existing flats should be refurbished not demolished. The Victorian Society is encouraging the public to comment on the planning application before consultation closes on 11 December.
The Sutton Estate is a handsome well detailed series of mansion blocks in a Queen Anne style by ECP Monson, the architect of the listed Islington Town Hall. Unusually for 1913, each flat was self-contained with their own W.C.’s, sculleries, cooking facilities and heating provision. When the flats were updated the baths were removed from the sculleries and the balconies were converted into shower rooms.  Affinity Sutton have applied to demolish 13 of the 15 blocks arguing that the buildings cannot be upgraded to ‘decent home standards’ without losing more social homes than would be lost under its plans to rebuild. However, it has not, so far as we’re aware, provided any evidence for the assertion that the flats cannot be upgraded to decent homes standards.
The proposed replacement buildings are bland and lack the character of the 1913 buildings. It has been suggested that housing created by philanthropic trusts in Chelsea are — in both architectural and human terms — far more successful that most later council housing. Affinity Sutton should celebrate the success of these buildings by investing in their future. Affinity should perhaps explore the option of redeveloping some flats for private sale to raise funds for work needed elsewhere on the Sutton Estate.
James Hughes, Senior Victorian Society Conservation Adviser, said: ‘Sutton Dwellings is an early example of social housing which makes a positive contribution to the local area and sits well with the 1915 Samuel Lewis Trust Dwellings opposite. With its handsome proportions it is unsurprising that many residents are unhappy at leaving. While the estate has suffered from the installation of UPVC glazing this does not detract from its overall quality. Affinity should spend its money on sensitive restoration rather than demolishing this early attempt to address inequality in London.’
Representatives of the Victorian Society are available for comment.
For more information contact:
Joe O’Donnell
Media Officer
The Victorian Society

Main: 020 8994 1019
Direct line: 020 8747 5897
Mobile: 07974168922


  1. This council is despicable. The residents on the Silchester Estate have just been informed by the Regeneration Team, RBKC that they will be displaced and their homes demolished and redeveloped by a private developer without due notice.

    Please read the tactics that this council is employing to destroy this borough.

    1. that link does not work

    2. Try:

  2. Ruth angel and her team up to their old tricks again.

  3. Wonderful !!!! they should leave The Sutton Dwellings alone.

    They are part of our heritage.

  4. Congratulations to the Victorian Society in opposing Affinity Sutton's plans to pull down these fantastic buildings to be replaced by a hideous block by a 3rd rate architect.

  5. Yea aaà. Are the Chelsea Society going to come out and do the same .They have had long enough to declare !

  6. At last. Come on Councillors.Save the sutton and save RBKC. Prove that the council isn't corruptand make a move to secure social housing in Chelsea. The sutton estate were model dwellings.RBKC can lead the way in the UK and show that a council works for the electorte and not just property developers.

  7. I have to say. The moves by Affinity Sutton and the council make me feel like I'm in Oliver Twist .

  8. Yea -why don't they reopen the workhouse on Sydney Street.

  9. Because it is earmarked for luxury homes or Crossrail.

  10. I've heard that tim coleridge or paul worrick are having the four bed townhouses on the new estate. Could be a rumour but who knows.

  11. I've heard that tim coleridge or paul worrick are having the four bed townhouses on the new estate. Could be a rumour but who knows.

  12. Who's coleridge

  13. Dunno saw him on telly trying to get the phene knocked down

  14. The Chelsea Society are opposing the planning application.

  15. Damian Greenish is a man that supports mixed communities and social housing.

  16. Unfortunately The Chairman of The Chelsea Society faces an uphill struggle from those members who do not wish to see a mixed community living in Chelsea.

    Well done The Victorian Society.

  17. I used to work in the social housing sector and did so for around twenty years.

    In 2001, I visited the Sutton Estate in Chelsea regularly; not in connection with my duties in social housing. I find it hard to believe that these magnificent buildings are uneconomic to maintain and that decent homes standards cannot be achieved without massive upheaval or at the cost of an arm and a leg.

    There are a number of similar Sutton estates throughout London to the one in Chelsea. I would be surprised if Affinity Sutton would be comfortable arguing that as the Chelsea estate cannot be brought up to scratch, it logically follows that all of similar Sutton dwellings throughout London are not fit for purpose because decent homes standards cannot be achieved.

    Is Affinity Sutton, by implication, saying that all of its other estates throughout London are not fit for purpose with demolition being the only answer?

    Of course not.

    The truth is that Affinity Sutton is lured by the large sums it will achieve by selling the land to a developer.

    I was particularly struck by the sense of community on the Chelsea estate. It was spotlessly clean: there was no litter flying around any of the external areas on the estate which is in stark contrast to many Council estates in London. There was no household lumber piled up on the communal forecourt, something one sees far too often whenever visiting estates estates owned the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The internal communal areas of each block were well decorated, well lit and kept very clean. The residents took considerable pride in their flats.

    I am very upset and disappointed that the Sutton estate in Chelsea is destined for the bulldozer. This bulldozing is nothing more than urban destruction.

    Well done to The Victorian Society.


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