A New Survey of the Estate

Professor Coleman's emphasis was on security, by giving the residents the ability to spy strangers who should not be haunting the estate and removing the walkways would cut off their approach and escape routes.

Security would also be helped by creating private spaces outside each flat. It was planned to give each ground floor flat a small private area outside its front door. These 'defensible spaces' would be similar to the front gardens in small cottages, with waist-high walls to give a sense of privacy and to identify trespassers. The large blocks of flats would be divided internally into smaller sections, with only a few flats using any particular entrance, and so help the tenants to 'police' their own patches. Lastly, the streetscape would be improved with trees and hard landscaping to increase pride in the area.

In 1986, four walkways were removed in an attempt to reduce crime. This was popular as a promise of what was to come and, apart from a rather ridiculous picture in the newspapers of the then Home Secretary, Kenneth Baker, pretending to knock down a walkway single-handed, went down well.

A detailed scheme to redesign part of the estate according to Professor Coleman's ideas was authorized. In 1988. Plans by Max Lock Easton Perlston & Wig, Architects and Planners, were exhibited to the tenants. Part of these plans are illustrated here as an example of the thinking behind the scheme.

The large blocks of flats would be divided into small, self-contained groups of about seven dwellings, each serviced by its own enclosed stairway. The internal ground floor corridors were to be closed and the upper level corridors walled across to form groups of neighbourhood flats.

Between the blocks of flats was a nondescript piece of land, nobody's property and a source of trouble. A new pedestrian estate road would be built through this area to give private gardens and entrances to the ground floor maisonettes. No cars. Any parked or blocking cars would be wheel clamped. Nine new dwellings would be built in the in-fill sites between the blocks, so completing the new street.

The frontage to Third Avenue would be improved by demolishing eighteen garages and the construction of four pairs of bungalow lodge houses with parking spaces between them. This layout would give conspicuous surveillance over the entrances, deterring undesirables from approaching the blocks. It was this sort of surveillance that had encouraged the original builders of the Queen's Park Estate to welcome policemen, with their irregular shift work, into their streets as tenants.

Programmed to start in late Autumn 1988 and take two years, it was the first test of Professor Coleman's principles to be carried out anywhere. In the years since then, the building-in of security by reducing places where people can hide and so giving better tenant surveillance, has become common practice elsewhere.



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Updated March 15, 2011