On Southwark’s junkitecture, from the #WilkinsonEyreSore to #MaltStreetCarbuncles via #CapitalHomes NKR

#EyreSore blackfriars-tower-london-skyscrapers-uk-architecture-news_dezeen_2364_col_3 #RolfeJudd #CarbuncleACupRunsOver #MaltStreet -04082017-3

The Carbuncle Cup Spilleth Over.

Blackfriars Road to Malt Street: the WilkinsonEyreSore to the RolfeJuddJunkShelf

How often have you heard Southwark’s Cabinet members, councillors and others plead that they have learned lessons from the casual disaster of the Elephant and Castle ‘regeneration’, in particular from the scandalous failures associated with the Heygate Estate and its shameful replacement? These lessons -they have said to us and in our presence for some years now- have been learned and applied in the development of the Aylesbury Estate! Yes, there are some small elements of truth in that -but in general!? So, okay, if not there then definitely, they say, when it comes to the Old Kent Road Opportunity Area!

For years they’ve said that the Heygate was not their fault. Nor the Aylesbury. It was all sort of going-to-happen-anyway, their signatures and sleights notwithstanding, and other people (many of whom went on to work for developers or their consultants incidentally) were and are to blame for it. Anyway! We’ve learned the lessons from those, they say, but we can’t and won’t apologise you understand? No, actually; no we don’t (there are complexities and contingencies but nothing covers a lack of articulation, contrition, or sufficient wit to change course). And no nothing has been learned; the OKR disaster is proceeding at the usual casually witless pace and it will be at least as bad as all the rest.   Read more of this post

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on #ElephantPark: after 4 yrs denied access to trees/public welfare/space> #HeygatePark

 

Heygate Park View August 2017 (Photo credit Forestbank)

Heygate Park View August 2017 (Photo credit Forestbank)

August to August (A Recap)/

It was in August 2013 that Lendlease completely sealed off the site of the old Heygate Estate, all 23 acres of it, including above-ground pavement to pavement access. This despite having been forced to formally/legally recognise, and commit to restore, the “public welfare” of the forest on the site measured by canopy. Crucially, the “tangible and intangible benefits” of those trees were valued using a measure of their accessibility!

Lendlease had to acknowledge those welfare values after our successful campaign and redraw their greedy Masterplan to be very slightly less so. That meant accepting and embracing existing public investment in those trees, their collective canopy and associated benefits. These were banked explicitly in S106 agreements with related commitments to restore the casually destroyed canopy and Lendlease were able to trade-off these promises in subsequent years to very profitable effect. The PR, in itself, is not a problem (we always said to them that they would deserve credit, even rewards, for honouring and implementing their commitments. They were radical changes and Lendlease and Southwark Council have radically failed to deliver so far…).

August 2013 was also when the last resident (Adrian Glasspool) was forcibly carried from his home and discarded like so much public interest and value in the site. The scale of contempt shown and applied on that occasion symbolises the so-called regeneration, from the casually disastrous 2010 Agreement to the displacement and failures to deliver (returnees? revision of social housing quotient per site app? replacing 640 street trees, i.e. 7 within the red lines of the permitted scheme on Balfour Street?) to this day. A lost decade and counting.

We write at the close of August 2017, when a small section of the same open space has been restored to public access, albeit otherwise privatised in its entirety. If there were any doubt about the latter, the simple recognition of its total enclosure for 4 years on the whim of a global corporate developer and its sudden re-opening for PR purposes should resolve it!

It makes for several issues and problems;

. Should the remaining, surviving, existing community go there?

. What happens if you do?

. If we go and invest our histories, decencies, credibility, how compromising is it? Is it not part of the quick-buck amnesia? An unearned reward for the scandals, profiteering and contempt?

. What does this (all) mean and what should we do now?

We will respond to some of these things now and some later, not least because responses will evolve.

Access, Access, Access/

Firstly, we argued (many things very consistently!) that Lendlease should be forced to conduct a CAVAT survey in 2011, which they were very reluctant to do. Even when doing it, they indulged in a pathetic charade and would not admit that they had until conceding that their valuation of the canopy value, which is to say the public welfare of its commons, was “pound for pound the same as yours” (c£14,500,000). Figures and details can be contested and picked-over (since they’ve failed to honour their obligations and cheated the valuations in the process, replacing street trees with less accessible/’valuable’ estate trees) but the argument was handsomely won.

Part of that argument was that along with this specific recognition it was correspondingly vital that access to the forest, trees and public welfare (which includes, explicitly, ‘soft’ benefits like peace of mind, mental and physical health, never mind lessening of air and noise pollution, never mind convenience, public rights of way, aesthetic pleasure, places to meet and so, again, access, access, access) would continue throughout the process. Of course, there would be days, perhaps even weeks of temporary relocation even closure for some major element of demolition or construction, but access means access. We know what it means (1).

The point was that having publicly recognised the value of the trees and their collectivity as an existing forest, and with Lendlease legally committed to no longer destroy all the trees as intended (2), ongoing access was required. The forest exists ‘now’, it will continue to exist in part and in full restoration ‘afterwards’. As such, continued access was vital as well as common sensical. In an actual regeneration this would be understood as essential to retaining any social or political credibility and even as a duty of care by a Local Authority. They would offer and insist. Not in Southwark!

If this was an ‘unusual’ argument to make, then the campaign and its strategy was so unusual as to be unique. But who cares about unusual; the argument was won and ongoing access was always a key part of it. So, for the political administration and anyone else to continue carping about unfair critics of the scandalous failures of the Elephant and Castle regeneration, except in delivering vast profits for Lendlease, this is a perfect example of why they failed so badly. They failed to understand the social, political, ecological and ethical point (3).

Apologies for the circuitousness of this, which demonstrates why it’s hard to write about in brief! The immediate purpose is to respond to the Now. However, this stolen access is very important to understand as one of the many large elements in the failure of the Elephant and Castle regeneration in just about every respect. There is and can not be any justification for this single element alone.

Bingo/

So, now, bingo: a bit of access again (4). Bingo; here we are standing next to maturing London planes imprisoned for 4 years, able to embrace them as we did when measuring their trunks to establish their canopy value using the CAVAT mechanism. Literally hugging them, yes. Only the kinds of vile spivs at Lendlease don’t touch trees, feel their warmth and textures, listen to their rustling leaves, the song and dance of bird and other companion species.

The Six Old Men August 2017, Looking West (Photo Credit Forestbank)

The Six Old Men Heygate Park August 2017 (Photo Credit Forestbank)

We are standing before two of the Six Old Men, as we called these liberated trees. Stand in the middle of the two that almost hold hands and the other survivors fall into place in their background to the west. This pair stood just beyond the common green area between Cuddington blocks where many a party, occasional Forest Feast and other gatherings took place. The zig-zagging staircase that was so often beautifully lit on the gable end of the last Cuddington block running westwards, detailed with a stencilled white reindeer in the last years, was right beside them. Adrian’s rear garden opened out to the shared green area nearby.

Should we be grateful that Lendlease stuck to some of their obligations and didn’t also destroy these two trees, for example? Well, given how many other abuses and serial ‘minor’ planning changes that they cheated through since permissions were gained in 2013, the answer has to be in expletives. Of course not. These trees, their collective value, their commons and those precious canopy benefits were recognised as ours before being confiscated and now returned when they should have remained with us all along. So, no. No. Definitely not.

The Great Silver Maple/

There is a little more for now. Go to the north east corner of this restored greenspace and look through the pretty cut-out shapes made in the fence there. Oh isn’t it all such FUN!! – on the site of such violence and brutal contempt for people and all public values. Peer through there or climb up onto the chunkier parts of the fencing nearby and get a better view; you deserve it, there’s no question of stealing a view here. It’s yours. What do you see? You see The Great Silver Maple. Reduced but recovering and still standing in place (5).

 

The Great Silver Maple changed everything, at the time. It was the first sign (along with Chearsley Copse), that Lendlease were going to admit defeat and recognise the forest. In June 2011. In speech and emails, well archived. We said, oh goodness knows how many times and in how many inflections, that The Great Silver Maple was going nowhere, that it would still be here after Lendlease had upped and gone, with or without their garbage dump regen (6). And so it proved on paper and so it proves in fact.

Look through there, turn to the right side and there are the two/three even more pollarded London planes, behind which was the raised pond and beyond that was the Information Centre and people’s pop-up cinema where many a thoughtful word was exchanged, commitment made and kept, song and dance made. Where food growers gathered to cook, share and eat soundly organic produce. Where things could have continued to be so different, instead of predictable and thoughtless in the face of the machines of global capital and all its desperately over-eager little helpers…

London planes August 2017 (Photo Credit Forestbank)

London planes Heygate Park August 2017 (Photo Credit Forestbank)

Look through and you can see The GSM, the LPs and one or perhaps two of those fine lime trees that were central to the shading of the allotments. Allotments which were an attempt to tackle the 10 year long waiting list in the area by making good use of small parcels of the 23 acres owned by Southwark Council. Sadly, they felt differently, desperate to give the land away to global-corp investors so that those developers could do further lucrative deals with chain restaurants to return and sell you back some garbage with flaky claims about provenance knowing very few care to remember or just care. Right?

HOW DIFFERENT JUST THIS MODEST ELEMENT MIGHT HAVE BEEN!

Chearsley and Cuddington Copses August 2017 (Photo Credit Forestbank)

Chearsley and Cuddington Copses Heygate Park August 2017 (Photo Credit Forestbank)

Look through and in the far distance, still completely enclosed, there remain the eleven trees of Chearsley Copse, and beyond those it seems the five of Cuddington Copse. Of course, without public access to this community wide regeneration space we can’t be sure.

Return, Revisit, Recover?/

Should we return, revisit, recover? Yes, of course. It’s ours. It was ours, the trees symbolise that it was, is and always will be and so despite the privatising of our space, welfare and interests, assume a short life for triumphant spivery and meanwhile reclaim the space! There are many problems with this, which we fully recognise. Already Lendlease and their no-brainer army are trying to rebrand, instrumentalise the space for their own ends. Their ends were and are never about public access though are they? They didn’t and won’t walk through the space under the trees to get from A to B. For them the word ‘walk’ is part of that vacuous lexicon of opportunity, vibrancy, long-term, green, community, place-making, healthy lifestyle choices…

We need to restore the publicness of this space otherwise we demonstrate that it meant nothing all along. It is not a defeat to stand there under the canopy fought for so successfully or in the public space lost but recoverable, or in exactly the same common space as there was before so many vile and thoughtless people took a percentage out of it. Instead, stand there and feel the way that nothing elemental has changed at all. Actuality, common wealth and interests cannot be erased so easily, they are not today’s special pizza and you can feel that between the two Old Men we began with.

They wanted you, all of us, to take their contemptuous punches and disappear in the shadows they want so desperately to make with their penthouse-extensions. The whole point of their exercise: profit, now relies upon well hedged predictability. So let’s not be. Predictable.

Heygate Park/

That is today’s business, easily done. But we would like to offer some further thoughts about all this, where it might go, or ideas to develop in the coming weeks. It comes down to something simple; they will make it in their vapid, banal, sweat-shopped image and we might want to force a rethink on that. What we might do instead is resume Urban Forest School activities, which were, you may recall, premised upon Irish hedge schools, the radical democracy of the rural Indian panchayat, soft and ecological anarchism. What we should do is hold to the long-term (and perhaps our noses) against their obsessively short short-terms.

Anyway, what better place to gather and exchange upon bolder, brighter, radically different futures than Heygate Park? What better way to begin than by renaming it as such, after its landmark connecting road?! What better way to upset and sideline them…

To be continued (less verbosely: it’s been a while!) …

________________

 

(1) Access: to declare a sustained interest, Southwark Council were prepared to discuss, engage, acknowledge and eventually make verbal assurances to be developed on this, with regard to the main site. It was substantially progressed over months, the arguments above found persuasive, all objections addressed, work done steadily. But LL categorically refused to entertain any conversation about the main site, re-offering a hanky plot off Wansey Street that we’d not taken up from LBS months earlier, and making furious assertions about how they overrode LBS in all such respects in autumn 2011. They found their breathless urban parsleyites and that ended the long strategic battle for the main site and access, which you can see is tightly woven into our argument. Urban parsley means developer’s flotsam; always the same wherever it wheels up… In any case, you judge whether there was meaningful public access and interim use of the Heygate Estate site post 2013, or not.

(2) But also replace one to one every tree they chose to destroy, plus 1200 linked to site and yet off-site or radiating beyond the site to restore, yes, restore, that public welfare value in the destroyed canopy of the Heygate forest.

(3) To be fair, they were aided in that by desperate narcissists who leapt at a chance to perform as urban parsley and so got them off the immediate hook. The details of that pitiful surrender, very well documented, may yet one day find a public stage. Suffice to say that the forest -its public space and access to both- was never ‘mobile’.

(4) Or no bingo for much longer, of course, if Southwark and their far too close friends Delancey get their way at the commercial hub of their plans.

(5) It’s noteworthy that the Robinia pseudoacacias -aka Black Locusts- to the north of The GSM have all gone, as have almost all of the original 22 in the forest. They obviously regard Black Locusts as an unwelcome element in their neat little worldview…

(6) That is: however nicely detailed, it’s a grossly inflated heap of facade, at least-double scale anything appropriate and all private at public expense: socially, politically and even ecologically regressive. Emblematic of everything wrong with our era, it should be ruinous of the careers and reputation of everyone involved.

Where’s Your Canopy – Saturday Walk 16th July 2016 – meet at the Coronet 11am

Version 2

We have Lend Lease’s latest formal claims and plans to share with you on Saturday…

We will keep walking, talking, acting until Lend Lease are embarrassed into meeting their planning obligations from 2013 to restore the “public welfare values” of the urban forest that they were given by replacing the destroyed trees with 1200 in the streets around the site, “reconnecting the Elephant … with green corridors … (using) … 640 street trees” and hundreds more in parks, estates and schools too. So far they have failed utterly and Southwark Council and the GLA have shown themselves weak, witless and compromised by their money and have so far let them get away with it. We have the latest version of LL’s formal claims and plans to share with you on Saturday…

The other most notable characteristic of the “regeneration” of the Elephant and Castle “Opportunity Area” is the overt and well-documented social cleansing. Instead of regenerating the area for an existing community, that community was largely decanted, dispersed, de-housed, and destroyed in an ongoing process. The same is right now being planned for the overlapping Old Kent Road Opportunity Area. This is not what regeneration means…

William Fisher and his younger brother as well as the hapless driver of the vehicle that killed them both on Rodney Road exemplify the kinds of people being flushed out of this central London forest and Land of Opportunity -for global corporate raiders like the utterly unscrupulous non-delivering Lend Lease. We will memorialise William’s heroic self-sacrifice (as honoured at Postman’s Park, linked by the Millennium Bridge to this patch of forest) where he lived and died: on Rodney Road, in East Walworth.

The process starts on Saturday and we have no doubt that local Labour Councillors whose raison d’être is to champion the interests of people like William (against the massive profits of raiders like Lend Lease, cough, choke…) will support us in the coming months. Indeed, they have been invited to join us on Saturday and will no doubt prioritise such an important symbolic recognition of the people whom they profess to serve. We look forward to their sterling support in formalising the memorial in time but meanwhile join them and us on Saturday at 11!

RSVP here

11a.m. Saturday Walk 4th June meet at The Coronet | Where’s Your Canopy? #LondonTreeWeek @LDN_environment

The_Great_Silver_Maple_Wheres_Your_Canopy_TheCoronet_11am_4thJune_2016

another Opportunity-for-whom Area: OKR and Berkeley’s v significant Malt Street site exhibition 20/21 April

Malt Street Regeneration Berkeley Site_red_line

Berkeley Group’s Malt Street site. Opportunity-for-whom area?

Here is an image of Berkeley’s site, taken from their Malt Street project website (here), which we use in preference to a cropped version on their Malt Street Leaflet -also below.

The image of ‘Malt Street’ above shows the urban context of their historic site off the road to Kent (and Canterbury, in particular, given the medieval ownership of lands nearby), with it’s connectivity with and proximity to the greenery of the Friary Estate, Burgess Park and it’s westerly reach, Glengall Wharf and the green corridor to the heart of Peckham (and Persia) and cycling routes immediately north and then easterly to Rotherhithe and Deptford.

It will be the first of the OKR’s so-called ‘Opportunity Area’ developments, at present home to Travis-Perkins and other similar enterprises, but directly bordering the Friary Estate’s extraordinary greenness: maturing trees, open green spaces, play areas and gorgeously overgrown parts. The Friary Estate is just the sort of well planned and generously laid out, lively and accessible housing estate in Southwark (and beyond) that is vulnerable to social cleansing, demolition and privatisation for global corporations -as we’ve seen all too clearly in recent years.

For these reasons and more you might want to visit the exhibition advertised on the 20th and 21st  April and advocate for all the good things that regeneration was and is supposed to mean and bring for existing communities instead of the banalities, brutalising exploitation and contempt for people and place, public interest, ownership and access, already mixed communities and the ecology of Southwark, to date. If that sounds hyperbolic look at socially, politically and ecologically regressive Elephant Park -which turned a flourishing urban forest into a motorway service station (to come)!

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p.s. LONDON’S NEW GREYEST PLACE TO LIVE #ElephantPark #LendLease

LONDON’S NEW GREYEST PLACE TO LIVE

This is the greenest possible version of the devastation Lend Lease have wrought, reducing a 500 tree urban forest to this. Remember that they wanted to destroy even the trees that remain and would have done if it were not for us -us here and you there.

They were supposed to reconnect the Elephant with green corridors linking their site with green spaces in the neighbourhood in 2014. And in 2015. That included a legal commitment to plant over 200 replacement trees in that way, over 100 in the streets in both years (106 each year for six years to total in their words “640 street trees”). They should be well on their way to a further 100 by this point in 2016 too… If they -or the planning system- had any credibility whatsoever.

Instead, there are perhaps as many as 11 in or near the street and others scattered from 400 metres up to over a kilometre away in neighbouring Wards. Instead! All of which is a total breach of their planning commitments from January 2013. A total breach despite their endless repetition of the words above: connecting, green corridors, neighbourhood and all of which sits under their farcical claim to be building ‘London’s greenest new place to live’.

This WAS one of the greenest places to live in central London. Now it is as grey as the M4 or M1. Thanks entirely to Lend Lease Group, who have meanwhile profited in the millions from fast bucks at this development and report profits in the hundreds of millions worldwide. They (and all their little helpers) are an obscenity.

Londoners should join forces to stop them ripping of this city and the people who live (work, study, etc.) here: you, me, we, us, our neighbours, families and friends and further…

We can achieve that, between us, if we try, if we can be bothered! None of this was or is inevitable. We have years in which to force Lend Lease to replace the forest they destroyed and restore its public welfare values to the people of the place.

Lend Lease only aim to be in and out as fast as possible with as much swag as possible. Let’s make it hard, as hard as we possibly can?

Look out for our Tree Week walk/talk -a refresher of the old Saturday Walk called Where’s Your Canopy?- late May/early June, more details announced soon. Come! Join us?

 

on putting #LendLease’s excessive profits (here extracted by a fine) to good GREEN use: manhattan parks #GreenBranding

Outline Planning Application from Lend Lease March 2012, showing the Heygate Forest, now the Elephant Park Greybelt

Read on here