1972 Pollards Hill Design Award

Design Award For Pollards Hill Estate

Mitcham’s Pollards Hill Estate has won a major architectural award for Merton.

The £4 million complex of 562 houses and 288 flats has already aroused great interest among local authorities and architects.

And this week Merton’s Borough Architect, Mr Bernard Ward, revealed that his architects have been given the South East Region Award of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Mr Ward, Borough Architect of Merton since 1965, regards this as one of the highlights of his career. But it was, he emphasised, a team job from five men in his department.

“I am very pleased. It’s quite an achievement as there are only 13 regions throughout Great Britain to which the Institute make their awards.”

He believes the award has been made on the basis that Pollards Hill houses a large number of families without the architects having to resort to high-rise blocks to do it. Those who have visited the estate since it was completed have been surprised at the spacious surroundings in which so many people can be accommodated.

This was his team’s objective when they first presented their ideas to the council’s Housing Committee four years ago.

Problems

“We wanted to build an estate which was mainly composed of houses and not flats. They said that if this could be done then it would be ideal. So
we went ahead,” explained Mr Ward.

There was plenty of head scratching, thinking and discussing among his staff before the final design was produced.

“A lot of designs hit the waste paper basket before we came up with the right one,” he explained.

Both Mr Ward and his team were aware that the huge tower blocks built by many
local authorities in the past were neither pleasant to look at nor to live in. But there was the council’s long housing waiting list to consider.

Both had to be taken into consideration before the final plans for Pollards Hill were produced.

Once this had been approved, there were few architectural problems.
“The only problem we had was to do the job within the budget for the project,” he said.

Altogether the team worked on the design for four months. They were a good team he said. It was a pity that most of them had now left Merton and gone their separate professional ways in the last two years.

Unique

But the experience they had in the design of one of the first estates where homes have been provided for 100 persons per acre would, he believed, stand them in good stead in their present jobs.

When the first tenant moved in on January 28, 1971, Pollards Hill was regarded, in architectural circles, as almost unique.

Merton Council had managed to house hundreds of families while adding to the quality of the environment. This is not achieved by many local councils in their battle to reduce housing lists.

The estate borders South Lodge-avenue, where previously there had been hundreds of prefabs, built as temporary post-war accommodation for bombed-out families.

Now, the long streamlined honeycomb of houses and flats which stretch up to the borough boundary is an attractive replacement.

The award is to be presented at a special ceremony at Merton Town Hall in October.

Source: Mitcham News & Mercury, 8th September, 1972 page 1

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