A rare scientific habitat for rare plants newts, frogs, invertebrates and aquatic plants has been saved from possible extinction by a vote at Lambeth's Planning Committee. Councillors voted by a majority to refuse planning permission for the demolition in a Victorian property in St Faiths Road in Thurlow Park Ward. It would have been replaced by a modern three storey block of flats. Lambeth and Southwark Housing Association wanted to demolish 32 St Faiths Road, once a 19th century home for Roman Catholic novices wanting to take holy orders. The plans would have seen the number of flats increase from four to nine.
The neighbouring South London Botanical Institute said in a statement to committee: “Our beautiful botanical garden is a unique community resources with a wild life pond and more than 500 plant species, some rare, some a century old.”
Lambeth Council itself has designated the botanical gardens adjoining No 32 St faiths Road as a site of importance for nature conservation. The institute and more than 30 objectors argued that the propose development would starve the gardens of daylight, create overlooking, and an overbearing sense of enclosure.
The pond which houses the newts and other waterlife has recently been revamped by volunteers and is a key project for their involvement and learning, During public and educational events groups of children as young as three attend.
Thurlow Park ward councillor John Whelan successfully moved the motion to refuse planning permission. He said: “This decision is a victory for common sense and will safeguard the future of a 100-year-old Lambeth gem which the council’s own biodiversity Action Plan is pledged to protect.”