Right-Wing Rag Steps In Its Own PR Spin About Taylor Wimpey’s The Turd Development

On 11 October in its printed version, but not appearing until 17 October online, The London Evening Standard ran the following ridiculous misrepresentation of Taylor Wimpey’s The Turd AKA The Denizen development on the corner of Fann Street and Golden Lane in EC1:

Living in the Square Mile, next to gleaming office towers and Wren spires, used to boil down to a Barbican apartment or a crash pad conversion in an outdated commercial building. Now a fresh wave of development is bringing much more variety and wow-factor main homes for people who want to put down roots in the area.

The Denizen is a new scheme of 99 apartments in Golden Lane, which also boasts a prized listed council estate dating back to the Fifties, a forerunner of the Barbican. Prices start at £695,000. Call Taylor Wimpey on 07929 009397.

Tight supply means City of London homes normally make sound investments. Yet values are still quite a bit lower than the best addresses in Westminster borough, Kensington or Chelsea.

Local planners continue to push for new high-rise office buildings to halt the defection to Canary Wharf, but they are also encouraging more homes outside the core banking zone, towards Spitalfields in the east and Chancery Lane in the west.

Luxury Property: Live and work in the Square Mile: the latest new-build homes offer more space than the average City crashpad. A new wave of development is bringing stylish homes to London’s exclusive Square Mile by David Spittles, London Evening Standard, Tuesday 17 October 2017.

Either David Spittles’ is an idiot or he’s misleading his readers, or both! Living inside City of London boundaries has never boiled ‘down to a Barbican apartment or a crash pad conversion in an outdated commercial building’. Spittles even mentions the Golden Lane Estate, which is very literally next to The Denizen site and like it just inside City of London boundaries; walk across Golden Lane and you’re in Islington. Two minutes down Fann Street from The Denizen is Blake Tower, recently converted from student accommodation to luxury flats. Many of these new ghost homes have yet to sell but they’re in the City of London. A little to the east is The Heron AKA Milton Court, which contains yet more unsold buy to leave flats. These are just a few of the developments Spittles overlooked in the immediate vicinity of what he calls The Denizen and we call The Turd, there are many more around The City.

It is also more than a little doubtful that those purchasing apartments in The Turd off-plan intend to put down roots in the City, as Spittles disingenuously suggests in his piece. The development is being marketed to investors in South East Asia who form a core part of the market for City fringe properties in London EC1. These speculators don’t live in their buy to leave flats, although they sometimes visit them for a few days if they come to London for business or on shopping sprees. There was an outcry five years ago when ‘affordable’ homes in the Central Square AKA Dance Square development a few minutes walk away in Islington went on sale at over £700,000 for a family flat; but Taylor Wimpey want just a few grand less for a studio, and there is no ‘affordable’ housing in The Turd (‘affordable’ means sold at 80% of market price to qualifying locals). The developer is asking over £2m for some of the ‘family’ apartments in the building.

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Of course £2m+ for a pad in The Turd is peanuts compared to the £18m sale tag on the penthouse flat in The Heron when it was first marketed a few years ago; but then the local authority co-financed those luxury apartments with Heron International and the Guildhall School of Music, whereas the City of London merely sold The Turd’s site to Taylor Wimpey and then provided planning permission – while simultaneously discounting the S106 contribution to affordable housing to make the project more profitable and ensure it provided absolutely no benefit to local residents. And as for the ‘wow-factor’ Spittles confers on The Turd in his piece of property porn, it has absolutely none in comparison to The Heron, and the development looks incredibly tacky in Taylor Wimpey’s marketing materials.

Spittles also fails to inform his readers that there has been an ongoing campaign against The Turd, which has been reported in the national and art press, as well as local papers including the one for which he’s covering this architectural atrocity. Objections include the fact The Turd will block light to local school classrooms and playgrounds, result in there being no afternoon sun from September until March in Fortune Street Park, and local flats will lose up to 70% of the light from their living rooms. The development is also overscaled and out of keeping with the listed buildings to its north and south. It replaces a block of social housing that was home to 110 key workers with luxury apartments that will lie empty, while locals are priced out of the area because of a lack of affordable flats.

While foreign property investors presumably don’t care that The Turd’s neighbours are furious about the development, those Spittles targets with his spin about putting down local roots will probably avoid this new home ‘opportunity’ and opt for one of the many others to be found nearby if they find out about the anger enveloping this project. These are not ‘main homes’, as Spittles disingenuously claims, they are safe deposit boxes in the sky.

And of course this isn’t the only story in which The Standard has marginalised Golden Lane Estate residents. On 22 May 2017 (online) the paper ran the piece Barbican residents slam 10-storey luxury flat development on old police block site by Daniel O’Mahony.

Writers living in the Barbican claim plans to demolish a former police accommodation block to make way for 99 luxury flats are “disgraceful”.

More than 180 neighbours have objected to a proposal by Taylor Wimpey to knock down Bernard Morgan House in Golden Lane.

They claim the development, which would rise to 10 storeys and include no affordable housing, should be blocked when it comes before the City of London Corporation’s planning committee tomorrow. Officers have recommended the plans for approval.

Fifties-built Bernard Morgan House served as a police section house until it was decommissioned after the 2011 Winsor review into police spending. It has been vacant since 2015.

A consultation on the redevelopment prompted a series of objections, including from novelist and filmmaker Chris Petit and writer Diana Souhami.

Mr Petit, who directed 1979 road movie Radio On, said: “Their plans manage the extraordinary feat of being simultaneously slavish, dull, timid and offensive. It would be a disgrace to the City, its skyline, its planners, its location and the architects involved.

“Both the Barbican and the Golden Lane Estate developed out of history. The plan to redevelop Bernard Morgan House has no awareness of anything other than its own steroidal bulk.”

This story has been spun – we’re told that the editor who subbed it is responsible rather than the journalist who wrote it – to make it look like it is only ‘well-off’ Barbican residents who objected to The Turd development. It gives the impression that Chris Petit lives in The Barbican when he actually lives on the Golden Lane Estate; and it makes no mention of the fact that many of those who will suffer the worst loss of light are working class families living in Bowater House and neighbouring blocks who became City of London council tenants in the 1950s. There are two and even three generations of these families living on the estate, with the oldest having been there since they were young adults and the others their whole lives.

Nearly everyone living in Bowater House on the Golden Lane Estate objects to The Turd but The Standard has chosen to ignore this. Many of the planning objections mentioned in the piece immediately above came from those living on the Golden Lane Estate, not just The Barbican. That said, there is completely solidarity on this matter between Golden Lane Estate and Barbican residents. It isn’t just Barbican leaseholders who object to The Turd, council tenants object too! And they’re standing shoulder to shoulder together on this!

Pippa Henslowe.

Notes.

We’re not going to link to The London Evening Standard because it is pushing fake news. Anyone who wants to read the original versions of the stories quoted above can find them by doing a simple web search. The Standard is incorrect where we quote it saying Bernard Morgan House was built in the fifties. It was built in 1960 and provided homes for nurses as well as police officers.

The £705,000 ‘affordable’ home by Patrick Collinson (2012 outrage over the Central Square/Dance Square development): https://www.theguardian.com/money/2012/jun/22/affordable-home

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