The Archibald Corbett Society


Preserving and regenerating the Corbett Estate


Article by Peter Ranken.

Launch The Archibald Corbett Society was launched in October 2013 in the presence of Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of Lewisham and President of The Lewisham Local History Society and Heidi Alexander MP for Lewisham East. The Society aims to preserve and regenerate the Corbett Estate in Hither Green and South Catford and promote the legacy left by Archibald Corbett one of the first social housing developers of his time.

 ‘There are local groups in Lewisham that promote the history of a specific area or aim to improve the environment of an area and do it very well, but none that combine both in the way The Archibald Corbett Society aims to do’.

Sir Steve Bullock

The launch celebrate the centenary of the completion of the Corbett Estate in 1913 and to benefit from the 2011 Localism Act which aims to devolve more decision making powers from central government back into the hands of individuals, communities and councils.

The key measures of the act are, new freedoms and flexibilities for local government, new rights and powers for communities and individuals, reform to make the planning system more democratic and more effective and reform to ensure decisions about housing are taken locally.

Local Partners The  Society will work in partnership with the Corbett Residents Association, The Hither Green Community Association and The Wellmeadow Road Residents Association and provide d benefits for all 10,000 residents that live across the whole of the estate.

Membership We do not charge a membership fee but welcome one off donations to help support our running costs. You can become a member by attending any open meeting or visiting our website and supplying your contact details.  You may want to volunteer to work on our projects, or fill in our surveys, which are very important as it allows us to provide evidence of residents’ views to access funding. Donations

Our Work The ACS  has developed a number of initiatives to help regenerate and develop the estate through community ownership and preserving and celebrating the historical importance of Archibald Corbett and the Estate he built.

1. The Neighbourhood Forum and Neighbourhood Plan

Board member Barbara Gray has been working tirelessly towards submitting an application to Lewisham Council to set up a Neighbourhood Forum and develop a Neighbourhood Plan for the Corbett Estate.

This will give residents a far greater say in planning applications and how the estate should be developed to create its own identity, how it should look, the regeneration of shopping parades and ensure that new development and alterations to existing buildings are sensitive and appropriate to their context and make a positive contribution to the Corbett Estate’s environment.

Over 110 residents have responded to our Neighbourhood Forum survey giving us valuable information to create a Neighbourhood Plan and over 60 residents have volunteered to sit on the Forum which is a tremendous show of support. It is hoped to that the application will be delivered to Lewisham Council within the next 4 weeks and by the New Year Corbett residents will be the masters of their own Estate planning destiny.


2. The Abbotshall Road Healthy Lifestyle Centre and Community Café

After three years negotiating with the Council for a lease,  Community Teachsport is pleased to announce works are underway at Abbotshall Road Playing Fields to construct a Healthy Lifestyles centre for the local community.

The centre will provide managed facilities on the playing field for:

  • junior football,
  • junior cricket,
  • school sports days
  • school holiday multi-sport activities.

The building will have an exercise studio for school PE, dance and theatre workshops and keep fit classes. There are community rooms for children’s tea parties, community meetings and training programmes.

The Centre will have a Community Café which will be managed and run by the talented ‘Delicious Nutritious ’ team led by local resident Penny Phillips using food grown from the new Community Garden.

The Healthy Lifestyles Centre is very much a community project and a steering group of stakeholders will be set up to meet quarterly to plan the future development.  This will include The Corbett Residents Association who will be using the field and building for their regular events.

All residents are very welcome to use the café and relax in the community garden and maybe even do some planting. Anyone wishing to volunteer will be welcomed with open arms.

Timetable:  Work on the demolition of the existing pavilion and changing rooms is scheduled for  September.

The building will be manufactured off site and dropped in at the end of September/early October 2014 .

Playing fields be ready for both cricket and football in April 2015.

If any resident has any concerns whilst the work is progressing there will be a foreman on site,  or, alternatively you can call 020 8659 5535 and ask for Ross Walker or Peter Ranken.


3. The Corbett Community Garden

As part of the Healthy Lifestyles Centre at Abbotshall Road, a community garden is shortly to be built along the Abbotshall Road fence line with £5000 funding raised by through the Mayor of London’s Pocket Park scheme plus match funding provided by Community Teachsport,

Plans for the garden:

  •  raised vegetable beds producing food for the Community Café at the Healthy Lifestyles Centre.
  • Edible hedge- raspberry canes and blackberry bushes,
  • a natural wildflower garden
  • a wildlife pond,
  • a sensory garden
  • a bug and insect hotel
  • a herb spiral
  • Plus green oak benches to sit and have a cup of tea and watch the cricket

The project will be led by Corbett Resident Association volunteer Frank Hooks. The area will be rotovated and laid with topsoil by the end of August for volunteers to start work

All residents are very welcome to use the café and relax in the community garden and maybe even do some planting. Anyone wishing to volunteer will be welcomed with open arms.

4. The Corbett Health initiative

The Corbett Health initiative will be based at the new Healthy Lifestyles Centre at Abbotshall Road being developed by Community Teachsport, due to be opened in late October/early November 2014.

It has been developed to reduce the likelihood of early Type Two Diabetes and cardio vascular disease  and reduce the pressure on local public health services.  The project will be delivered in partnership with Community Connections and local GPs.

The Society has received £13,000 of grants from National Government – the project goes live in March 2015.

As part of the development plan the Society needs to survey residents on their ideas for the project and seek their involvement as volunteers as, without volunteer support the project will not be sustainable. Please help and support this vital project by filling in the Health Initiative survey.


5.The Archibald Corbett History project

The Society is very fortunate to have a group of talented historians and creative people who have been working on an educational project for local schools to celebrate the life of Archibald Corbett and the historical legacy of the estate he built.

We are working with a local film-maker  to produce a series of short films about living on the Corbett Estate past and present.

  • Corbett the man,
  • Corbett people,
  • Corbett tales,
  • Corbett streets and architecture .

A booklet will be also be produced in conjunction with tours of the area.

The project will include volunteer involvement from residents living on the Corbett Estate plus local students from primary and secondary schools. Volunteers will have the opportunity to be trained in multiple skills including all aspects of film making, photography, tour guiding, archival research, interpretation design, including digital design  and heritage skills. Funding is currently being sought from the Heritage Lottery Fund

If you are interested in being involved as a volunteer in this interesting project and developing new skills, please contact Julia Burke via our website.

5. Corbett Portraits Photographic competition

As part of developing a historical archive for the future, the Society is running a Photo Portrait Competition for anyone who lives or works on the Estate.

Prizes:  Two fantastic Fuji XF1 digital cameras are the prizes for under 18 and over 18 winners’ categories plus runners-up prizes including photographic workshops by professional photographer Tom Broadbent.

Closing date is September 12thFull details and entry forms 


If there is anything suspicious to report such as vandalism or trespassing, the contact details for the Catford South Neighbourhood Team are 020 8721 2488,

1 Comment

  1. […] are the locally owned social enterprise who will be running the Cafe as part of the new Healthy Lifestyles Centre on Abbotshall […]

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