Plans to install 155 permanent anti-terrorism bollards around Windrush Square in Brixton were approved by Lambeth’s extraordinary corporate committee on Wednesday (September 30).  

The “heritage style, cannon-shaped bollards”, 1.1 metre high, are set to replace temporary ones put in over the summer in a bid to protect the Square from terrorist attacks.  

Brandan Wilkinson, principal planning officer for Brixton and Clapham, told the committee that the assessment that needed to be made was “whether or not the open character of Rush Common is harmed in any way”.  

Under the Rush Common legislation, planning applications “must preserve the openness of the land”, while the council must give consent for “erections or buildings above the surface of the earth”.  

The consent is separate from other planning considerations.  

Mr Wilkinson said that officers considered that, “due to the relatively small size” of and “particularly the spacing between the bollards”, officers were “of the opinion that it wouldn’t harm the open character of the Rush Common”.   

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Two councillors abstained from the vote, one of whom thought she was attending a training session and admitted she hadn’t read the report.  

Clapham Town Cllr Linda Bray, who was substituting for a committee member, said: “I haven’t read the paper for this committee, I’m afraid, because I think I must have got my dates mixed up. 

“In my diary I had this down as a training session.” 

The chair said there was a training session on but it was after the meeting.  

Cllr Bray abstained as she didn’t “feel equipped to make a decision”. 

Before the vote Green Cllr Scott Ainslie questioned why the bollards couldn’t be replaced with trees, which he said would be “more in keeping” with Windrush Square and Rush Common. 

But Mr Wilkinson said: “Because we have to assess the application that [is] in front of us … we don’t have the opportunity to explore any other options.  

“I wouldn’t imagine that trees would be able to serve the same purpose as these quite highly engineered bollards.  

“They are of a particular size and standard to [withstand] certain force and I’m not sure trees would be able to account for that.” 

Cllr Ainslie abstained from the vote.  

“I’d like to know if another alternative has been sought,” he said.  

Cllr Peter Ely and chair Cllr Adrian Garden approved the plans.  

The formal planning application will be considered at a date yet to be set.

Lambeth Council says the bollards around Windrush Square are an anti-terrorism measure “to protect crowds that gather in the square which is popular for meetings, rallies and socialising”.  

Announcing the installation of temporary bollards around the Square in July, a council spokesperson said: “London has faced an increased risk of terrorist attacks and as well a number of incidents in recent years, making protecting high-profile and culturally significant locations such as Windrush Square a higher priority. 

“There is no current specific threat linked to the Windrush Square installation. But Lambeth has previously been targeted, including in 1999 when a far-right terrorist attacked Electric Avenue with a nail bomb, and in February this year when a man carrying out a knife attack in Streatham High Road was shot dead by police. 

“The police consider terrorism to be a long-term threat to London, with work ongoing across the capital to adapt public spaces in ways that work to prevent, protect and deter future attacks.”