A trio of gasholders best known for providing the backdrop to The Oval cricket ground are at risk from a new planning application.
The application from Berkley Homes Ltd seeks to demolish two and redevelop the third with large tower blocks inside and around.
The Victorian gasholders have been admired by generations of cricket fans for a century but only one is a listed building. The new proposals involve the demolition of the two unlisted gasholders 4 and 5, and the redevelopment of the listed gasholder No.1 as part of a large-scale development. Replacement buildings towering up to 18 storeys would dwarf the one remaining gasholder as well as the surrounding 2-3 storey historic residential buildings.
Gasholders 4 and 5 are a vital part of this famous backdrop yet no attempt has been made to retain them, despite them being locally listed and an important part of perhaps the most distinctive and recognisable backdrop of any cricket ground.
Anna Shelley, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society, said: “Listed gasholder No.1 gets much of its interest from its group value with the smaller gasholders which cluster around it. It is as a series that they have the highest landscape value; they are synonymous with The Oval for millions worldwide and every effort should be made by the developer to retain them.”
It has been proven that restored historic gasholders can be successfully integrated into new developments, as those at Kings Cross clearly show. If it is not viable to retain gasholders 4 and 5, the onus is on Berkley Homes to demonstrate why not, which they have not done. They have also not justified the scale of the development, which would substantially crowd and dwarf the gasholders even if they were retained. We urge Lambeth Council to refuse consent for this damaging application and make every effort to retain one of its best-loved vistas.