In the early 1980s a large number of properties in Bonnington Square, Vauxhall, were acquired for demolition by the then Inner London Education Authority in advance of proposals to build a new school on the site. They were left empty and would have become derelict but for the intervention of a group of people who could see how they could be brought back into use on a temporary basis
They formed a housing co-op and negotiated with ILEA which eventually agreed to lease the properties to South London Family Housing Association, which handed over the management to the co-op. The co-op did up the houses, transformed the area and even opened a community café.
Years later plans for the school were eventually dropped and of course the properties had been saved. Today, there are various forms of tenure in the Square ranging from tenants to shared owners and even owners, but the amazing thing is that it was saved from dereliction and has gone on to provide a much sought after place to live.
It’s a brilliant example of how buildings can be preserved, money can be saved, people can be housed and how the environment can be enhanced!.
Funded by grants and local sponsorship, the garden includes a water wheel and lush, sub-tropical planting. Widely reported in the media, the Pleasure Garden is today regarded as one of the finest community gardens in London.