The neighbours fighting to preserve one of London's most historic streets and prevent it from becoming another high-rise complex...but are losing the battle to green schemes, cowboy builders and wealthy outsiders

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Anxious residents of one of London's most historic streets are living in fear that skyscrapers encircling their home will one day block out the sun - as more and more highrises gradually block out the capital's skyline.

Roupell Street, which is virtually unchanged from its 1820s origins, is hidden in a trench between the tower blocks crowding Waterloo station - where its homeowners have dug in and refused to bow down to pressures they believe would have reduced the road to rubble without their fighting spirit.

But one by one the embattled neighbours have been left heartbroken as they see the beloved Grade II listed terraced houses gutted from the inside, as new wealthy residents strip out their historic character in favour of cinema rooms and huge basements.

And now they worry new council plans to tear up their parking spaces in favour of mini parklets in a misguided green scheme could lay waste to their way of life.

Stephen Bull, 72, has lived in his Roupell Street home for 40 years alongside his wife Jane, 66. 

A heritage expert, he is a former chairman of the residents' association and is well known along the road after setting up his construction business in a fury at cowboy builders wrecking the homes and consequently restoring and repairing the historic houses, one by one.

Roupell Street, which is virtually unchanged from its 1820s origins, is hidden in a trench between the tower blocks crowding Waterloo station

Roupell Street, which is virtually unchanged from its 1820s origins, is hidden in a trench between the tower blocks crowding Waterloo station

Roupell Street, which is virtually unchanged from its 1820s origins, is hidden in a trench between the tower blocks crowding Waterloo station

The street's homeowners have dug in and refused to bow down to pressures they believe would have reduced the road to rubble without their fighting spirit

The street's homeowners have dug in and refused to bow down to pressures they believe would have reduced the road to rubble without their fighting spirit

One by one the embattled neighbours have been left heartbroken as they see the beloved Grade II listed terraced houses gutted from the inside

One by one the embattled neighbours have been left heartbroken as they see the beloved Grade II listed terraced houses gutted from the inside

Stephen Bull, 72, has lived in his Roupell Street home for 40 years alongside his wife Jane, 66

Stephen Bull, 72, has lived in his Roupell Street home for 40 years alongside his wife Jane, 66

The street remains virtually unchanged from its Georgian origins - and its residents still hold street parties

The street remains virtually unchanged from its Georgian origins - and its residents still hold street parties

When he first bought his home, in 1988, it was worth £198,500 - he had missed out on getting it at a knock down price of just £34,000 just six years before. But now houses on the row can reach as high as £1.4million and have been the target of wealthy Londoners look to 'downsize' from their central pads.

Sitting at his well-worn dining room table with the original plans for the street spread out before him, he told MailOnline: 'Everyone that lives here at the moment, in the past, are low-rise dwellers. That means we like small buildings. We like community.

'But development now is tall buildings and there's always been a problem with tall buildings. People are getting seduced by what the tall buildings have to offer where they hit the ground. 

'I think the tall buildings are the latest, the biggest and the newest threat because of the height and it's the way the shadows will be passed.

'The tall buildings act as sundials, so when you have the sun coming up, or the sun going down they cast a shadow. 

'If you're encircled by them, then the shadow will move right the way around and there is a chance that unless you're very careful, you are going to be blighted from sunlight.' 

Roupell Street's iconic butterfly roofs and soot-painted brick were originally built to house Georgian artisans flocking to the city to support the industrial revolution.

And these days they attract film crews from across the globe as directors seek to transport audiences back in time - with the likes of Doctor Who, James Bond and Krays blockbuster Legend taking over the road.

Tourists pose up for photos along Roupell Street, which is one of London's best preserved Georgian roads

Tourists pose up for photos along Roupell Street, which is one of London's best preserved Georgian roads

Ivor now worries that new council plans for the 'greening' of the street (pictured) could also threaten their way of life

Ivor now worries that new council plans for the 'greening' of the street (pictured) could also threaten their way of life

Some residents fear the addition of green spaces could prompt Waterloo's homeless population to find shelter on their quiet street

 Some residents fear the addition of green spaces could prompt Waterloo's homeless population to find shelter on their quiet street

A heritage expert, Stephen is a former chairman of the residents' association and is well known along the road

A heritage expert, Stephen is a former chairman of the residents' association and is well known along the road

Roupell Street's iconic butterfly roofs and soot-painted brick were originally built to house Georgian artisans flocking to the city to support the industrial revolution

Roupell Street's iconic butterfly roofs and soot-painted brick were originally built to house Georgian artisans flocking to the city to support the industrial revolution

These days they attract film crews from across the globe as directors seek to transport audiences back in time

These days they attract film crews from across the globe as directors seek to transport audiences back in time

The proud residents still keep the memorials of the street's history - with Stephen showing off the road's original plans

The proud residents still keep the memorials of the street's history - with Stephen showing off the road's original plans

Built between 1824 and 1926, the road has also attracted a number of high profile celebrities - including magazine editor Isabella Blow, artist Mark Wallinger and Admiral Sir Arthur Desmond Cassidi, the former Commander-in-Chief of Naval Home Command.

The area is also famous for housing the London Festival Orchestra's rehearsal space, where star musicians including Shirley Bassey and George Michael have all played. 

But the homeowners now look on as they believe new residents are more interested in turning the historic buildings into Chelsea houses than preserving their character.

And they fear that if the landscape changes too much and the homes are blocked from the sun they could be destroyed. On a practical level the traditional building materials need to dry out during the summer, and the bricks could be frosted off if they don't get this chance.

Stephen continued: 'When we first moved here, in 1988, there wasn't anything - we had one supermarket. It's changed a lot since we've been here. But remarkably, the houses have been very resilient to change.

'If it wasn't for the work of the government and Conservation Officers, then these would all be painted like Chelsea in different colors completely destroyed.

'There's a general consensus of opinion really, that I'm a bit of a fart. They shout at me in meetings and say: 'We don't live in museums!' 

'I don't expect you to live in museums, but you've chosen to live here. And if you've chosen to live here, why? Because you come in here and you throw 90 per cent of it away.'

When Stephen first bought his home, in 1988, it was worth £198,500 - he had missed out on getting it at a knock down price of just £34,000 just six years before. But now houses on the row can reach as high as £1.4million

When Stephen first bought his home, in 1988, it was worth £198,500 - he had missed out on getting it at a knock down price of just £34,000 just six years before. But now houses on the row can reach as high as £1.4million

The likes of Doctor Who, James Bond and Krays blockbuster Legend have all taken over the road

The likes of Doctor Who, James Bond and Krays blockbuster Legend have all taken over the road

Built between 1824 and 1926, the road has also attracted a number of high profile celebrities

Built between 1824 and 1926, the road has also attracted a number of high profile celebrities

But the homeowners now look on as they believe new residents are more interested in turning the historic buildings into Chelsea houses than preserving their character

But the homeowners now look on as they believe new residents are more interested in turning the historic buildings into Chelsea houses than preserving their character

The opinion is a popular one among the more established members of the street. They remember battling to save the homes from the threat of the Jubilee Line, when each house posted £250 through Stephen's letterbox to help fund a legal fight.

The event in the late 1980s saw the Residents Association first called into force, as they insisted every house must be surveyed before the tunnel was built.

The money meant they could employ a parlimentary agent and stop the bill being read in Parliament until they were satisfied the houses would be safeguarded.

Both the London Underground and the residents appointed structural engineers and the government paid for surveys of every home - with the government being liable for any new faults found five years on from the works.

Stephen's wife, Jane, believes that without the residents' fight the road 'would have been demolished by now'.

She said: 'It's a struggle - even though it is a conservation area and they are all Grade II listed, you can't believe that even the residents themselves are kind of taking them apart from the inside.

'I can't believe that people want to take out the paneling - you think: 'Why do you move here if you don't want fireplaces?''

The residents are now able to fund their planning wars by hiring out the street to visiting film crews - who pay as much as £40,000 to turn it into a scene for their movie.

Former Teacher of the Year Liz Owens, 76 - who was awarded a 2014 Pride of Britain Award by Jamie Oliver for her work as headteacher transforming a struggling local primary school - agreed with the couple's assessment

Former Teacher of the Year Liz Owens, 76 - who was awarded a 2014 Pride of Britain Award by Jamie Oliver for her work as headteacher transforming a struggling local primary school - agreed with the couple's assessment

The area is also famous for housing the London Festival Orchestra's rehearsal space, where star musicians including Shirley Bassey and George Michael have all played

The area is also famous for housing the London Festival Orchestra's rehearsal space, where star musicians including Shirley Bassey and George Michael have all played

Residents remember battling to save the homes from the threat of the Jubilee Line, when each house posted £250 through Stephen's letterbox to help fund a legal fight

Residents remember battling to save the homes from the threat of the Jubilee Line, when each house posted £250 through Stephen's letterbox to help fund a legal fight

Both the London Underground and the residents appointed structural engineers and the government paid for surveys of every home - with the government being liable for any new faults found five years on from the works

Both the London Underground and the residents appointed structural engineers and the government paid for surveys of every home - with the government being liable for any new faults found five years on from the works

Much of the money they give to neighbouring local charities - such as St Johns homeless foodbank, St John's soup kitchen and foodbank and the Waterloo Community Development Group.

A tight-knit community, they also provide much of their own care to their elderly residents and help each other out in times of hardship - with Stephen lovingly saying it is a 'utopian kind of scheme'.

Former Teacher of the Year Liz Owens, 76 - who was awarded a 2014 Pride of Britain Award by Jamie Oliver for her work transforming a struggling local primary school as headteacher - agreed with the couple's assessment.

She bought her house with her husband in 1990 for £148,000 when they were both struggling teachers and the area was a but rough.

She said: 'Now you have to have a lot of money to afford these houses so it's a different sort of person that buys. 

'I think that it's really important that you have that mixture, because we some of our really good friends are in Hatch Row Housing Co-operative. And that's that's for the good.

'There is a real danger for the heritage because people with a lot of money buy these places, and there are there are terrific limitations on what you could do. But the recent people, they want to put a room under the backyard, they want to dig out the cellar, they want a cinema. 

'And you think - why not just go and buy a big house, not a little terrace house? 

Liz met her neighbour, Olga Mazure, 48, during a housing fight and the lawyer is now teaching her her native Russian. Pictured: Olga with her husband Ivor outside their home

Liz met her neighbour, Olga Mazure, 48, during a housing fight and the lawyer is now teaching her her native Russian. Pictured: Olga with her husband Ivor outside their home

The residents are now able to fund their planning wars by hiring out the street to visiting film crews - who pay as much as £40,000 to turn it into a scene for their movie

The residents are now able to fund their planning wars by hiring out the street to visiting film crews - who pay as much as £40,000 to turn it into a scene for their movie

A tight-knit community, they also provide much of their own care to their elderly residents and help each other out in times of hardship - with Stephen lovingly saying it is a 'utopian kind of scheme'

A tight-knit community, they also provide much of their own care to their elderly residents and help each other out in times of hardship - with Stephen lovingly saying it is a 'utopian kind of scheme'

The ghost of a sign clings on to the side of a building on the weathered street, which was first built for artisans

The ghost of a sign clings on to the side of a building on the weathered street, which was first built for artisans

'The fact that it's a very sought after area now is not a good thing.'

Liz met her neighbour, Olga Mazure, 48, during a housing fight and the lawyer is now teaching her her native Russian.

Speaking from her reference-book filled living room, Olga is gently teased over their fighting spirit - Liz says she won compensation after one of the filming companies erected scaffolding outside her window and she woke up to see a builder's face through her curtains.

But Olga has also been affected by the gradual development around the street. 

She said: 'You should see and feel an architectural rhythm. It's like it's back to the 19th century now that it's a pedestrian area. It's very quiet.

'I love the light of the sun, and of course for us little houses it's not nice. 

'We're only protected by the railway, which is a blessing - they can't build a skyscraper literally next to our garden. Because it's like a village we are sort of protected; we have some light.

'We have a right for openness because it's not a street, but a lane really - it's tiny. 

'But this openness would be nice to have on a horizontal and on vertical level as well. So I think we are losing our right for openness because of skyscrapers.'

Olga and her husband Ivor, 78, have recently won a planning battle against the street's school being extended close to the front of their house

Olga and her husband Ivor, 78, have recently won a planning battle against the street's school being extended close to the front of their house

She added that without being listed 'We'd be smashed, I think. We'd be gone.'

Olga and her husband Ivor, 78, have recently won a planning battle against the street's school being extended close to the front of their house - which they say would have encroached on their privacy and right for space.

And Ivor now worries that new council plans for the 'greening' of the street could also threaten their way of life. 

He said: 'It's supposed to be a thoroughfare - the street wouldn't be never have been like that. They're trying to ruin the natural look of the street.'

And he is not alone in thinking this - Liz added that she fears the addition of green spaces could prompt Waterloo's homeless population to find shelter on their quiet street.

She said: 'If you provide a seat, there are an awful lot of homeless in Waterloo, and in no time at all poor things, they make it their headquarters.'

And Stephen added: 'It's ridiculous because all they're doing is wasting money trying to green the streets. 

'They're saying there is too much tarmac making up Waterloo but when you go onto Google Earth and you look at it there's a huge amount of green space - all the gardens for example.'

The huge tower blocks close to the South Bank tower over the tiny London street

The huge tower blocks close to the South Bank tower over the tiny London street

Dubbed by Lambeth Council the 'Roupell Street Healthy Street Improvements', they propose a 'no motor vehicles' traffic restriction, to add more trees and street furniture and retain a two-way cycle path

 Dubbed by Lambeth Council the 'Roupell Street Healthy Street Improvements', they propose a 'no motor vehicles' traffic restriction, to add more trees and street furniture and retain a two-way cycle path

The changes received widespread protest from residents - with 43 saying it would increase anti-social behaviour

The changes received widespread protest from residents - with 43 saying it would increase anti-social behaviour

Dubbed by Lambeth Council the 'Roupell Street Healthy Street Improvements', they propose a 'no motor vehicles' traffic restriction, to add more trees and street furniture and retain a two-way cycle path.

The changes received widespread protest from residents - with 43 saying it would increase anti-social behaviour, 39 claiming it would restrict their ability to drice, 38 adding their anger that it would stop deliveries and services accessing the road and 34 complaining that it would stop them being able to park.

A further 33 said it would restrict their access to their property, while 32 claimed it would not be maintained.

However, 68 people surveyed said they were satisfied with the new plans - as six even complained there would not be enough new green spaces.

And not all residents of the street are in opposition to the looming skyline and growth of London around the quiet street.

Kevin McNally, 63, sits on the residents' committee and has lived on the road for two years - before which he had friends on the street he would visit.

He praised the community's vibrant spirit, but said he likes the contrast between the old and the new as you look beyond the end of the street.

Kevin, who manages an education business, said: 'It's great! It's a nice little community. Everybody knows each other.

Kevin McNally, 63, sits on the residents' committee and has lived on the road for two years - before which he had friends on the street he would visit

Kevin McNally, 63, sits on the residents' committee and has lived on the road for two years - before which he had friends on the street he would visit

Unchanged by the hands of time - the street as it stands today

Unchanged by the hands of time - the street as it stands today 

Jake Jones, who works at the street's King Arms Pub, appreciated how much business the road brings to the business along the road - and says it keeps the boozer busy

Jake Jones, who works at the street's King Arms Pub, appreciated how much business the road brings to the business along the road - and says it keeps the boozer busy

'It's great to be listed so you can't really change much about it. All the houses are different inside.

'For the Jubilee we did a big street party so there's definitely that kind of spirit. There's a real pride in the street and living here.

'Some of the neighbors hate the idea, but I like that sort of contrast with the new and the old.

'Some of us like the idea because I love that contrast of the old and the new. Other people feel it's encroachments on the sense of the neighborhood.'

Jake Jones, who works at the street's King Arms Pub, appreciated how much business the road brings to the business along the road - and says it keeps the boozer busy.

The 31-year-old said: 'It does feel like you jumped back in time. It feels like the pub is the only thing that's a little bit more more modernized than the street. 

'This pub gets really busy, I think the street's probably one of the reasons why it does. A lot of people come to the street and then they stop in. 

'Everyone's quite nice and we get quite a lot of locals and neighbors come in, loads of tourists - they come to get a look at the street. 

Tourists lugging huge rucksacks take pictures of the scene as they pass the stunning street

Tourists lugging huge rucksacks take pictures of the scene as they pass the stunning street

'If you look up it's kind of weird to see the skyline but if you keep your eyes at eyelevel it’s quite nice.'

And Layla Huysal, 26, studied theatre and is thrilled by the presence of famous actors and film sets just outside her house.

She added: 'It's really nice. Every now and then we get film sets down here. It’s crazy because you get transported to the 1920s all of a sudden! 

'They get rid of all signs of modernity - not many exist anyway. I sort of peek through my window when they're shooting - it's quite surreal.

'It's a nice disconnect because it makes me not want to go out because it can be very cosy. 

'You don't really feel that chaos going around. It's central, central London but it’s like a little nook.'

Lambeth Council has been contacted for comment. 

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