Roundshaw, Sutton

A housing estate built (and then radically rebuilt) on land that was part of Croydon Airport until it closed in 1959

Hidden London: The Phoenix Centre, Roundshaw, by John Salmon

After the Sec­ond World War Round­shaw Park was cre­at­ed at the west­ern edge of Croy­don Air­port, serv­ing as an ameni­ty for the res­i­dents of South Bed­ding­ton (nowa­days thought of as part of Walling­ton). The park was named after the Round Shaw, a clump of trees that were once sur­round­ed by open farm­land but now con­sti­tute the north-west tip of Round­shaw Park’s wood­land.

The Round­shaw estate was built in 1965–7 and named after the park. The names of the estate’s streets – and some of its build­ings – com­mem­o­rate avi­a­tion com­pa­nies, air­craft and indi­vid­ual pio­neers asso­ci­at­ed with Croy­don Air­port.

Roundshaw’s first ten­ants came from with­in the bor­ough but the Greater Lon­don Coun­cil lat­er took respon­si­bil­i­ty for part of the estate, rehous­ing East Enders here. Although unpop­u­lar with its neigh­bours, Round­shaw was at first per­ceived as a ‘lux­u­ry estate’, with spa­cious accom­mo­da­tion and cen­tral­ly sup­plied heat­ing and hot water. Rents were rel­a­tive­ly high.

To the south, the Apel­doorn estate was built pri­vate­ly on coun­cil land in the 1980s but its house prices were out of the reach of most Round­shaw ten­ants.

Hidden London: Spitfire Close, Roundshaw
Spit­fire Close*

With­in a decade of the Round­shaw estate’s con­struc­tion defi­cien­cies in build qual­i­ty had become obvi­ous, and anti­so­cial behav­iour led to (exag­ger­at­ed) talk of a ‘no go zone’ in the late 20th cen­tu­ry.

Sut­ton coun­cil even­tu­al­ly addressed the root prob­lems of the orig­i­nal estate with a com­pre­hen­sive regen­er­a­tion pro­gramme involv­ing pri­vate builders and social hous­ing groups.

Over 1,000 high-rise pre-cast con­crete units were demol­ished and replaced with a sim­i­lar num­ber of low-rise hous­es and flats built in tra­di­tion­al street pat­terns, allow­ing all the cur­rent res­i­dents to remain on the estate if they wished. A fur­ther 674 low rise homes were retained and refur­bished.

The Phoenix Cen­tre (shown in the pho­to­graph at the top of the page*) opened in Sep­tem­ber 2004, pro­vid­ing a leisure cen­tre, youth zone, library, café and com­mu­ni­ty hall all under one roof.

The estate’s 1,700 prop­er­ties are now man­aged by Round­shaw Homes (a part­ner­ship between Met­ro­pol­i­tan and the Hyde Group) and include 1,400 homes for rent and 120 shared own­er­ship homes, of which 50 are reserved for key work­ers.

Round­shaw Downs (in the south-east cor­ner of the map below) is a local nature reserve cov­er­ing about 94 acres, the largest area of unim­proved chalk grass­land in the bor­ough. Most of the downs were once part of the air­field. Kestrels and sky­larks are among the birds that have replaced planes in the skies above.

Paralympic athlete David Weir is a Roundshaw resident. The postbox in Mollison Square was painted gold in honour of his multiple medal winning performances at the 2012 Paralympics. Weir has also been a regular competitor in the London Marathon, which he won for a record-equalling sixth time in April 2012.

Postcode area: Wallington SM6
See also: Waddon, for more on Croydon Airport


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* The picture of the Phoenix Centre on this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright John Salmon, and the picture of Spitfire Close, Roundshaw, is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Craig Janes, both at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.