City Planning ‘Tsar’ Annie Hampson Gets An OBE, Those She Allegedly ‘Serves’ Get The Turd!

Annie Hampson, the City of London council’s chief planning officer and development director was the recipient of an OBE for ‘services to planning in London’ in the New Year’s Honours list. Presumably these services include helping the City foist Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen AKA The Turd on local residents in Cripplegate, a development that will block sunlight from schools, homes and a local park; and which replaces 110 social housing units for key workers with a block of luxury flats that contains no social or affordable housing whatsoever. For this and other exercises in screwing over ordinary people in both the City and Islington – think of the Culture Mile too – we’ve no doubt the powers that be believe Hampson really deserves this ‘honour’.

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Culture Mile: A Cynical Exercise in Marginalisation & Social Exclusion

Before I sat down to write this piece, I came across a photograph on social media posted yesterday and captioned: “Back of Liverpool Street Station – the sterile hell of a corporate winter wonderland.” The area shown in this smartphone snap is in the City of London and what was said about it really chimed with my feelings over not just the Culture Mile but also most City Public Realm projects in recent years. The council’s Department of the Built Environment is clearly in need of reform just as much as the political body that controls it. We really do need to take back the city.

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Hex In The Park: Cursing Out EC1 Ghost Homes

On Tuesday 31st October 2017 at noon, witches mounted a procession to hex the sites of two proposed ‘City fringe’ housing developments that threaten to overshadow popular local parks. They directed a deadly and hostile current of will at the proposed site of Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen in Golden Lane, after cursing out the proposed St Luke’s Mansions housing development on the space currently occupied by the Finsbury Leisure Centre. The witches are not against more homes being built in the area but what they want to see is social housing for local people built to an appropriate scale and in appropriate places.

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The Denizen & Life Within, A Rum Old Story

Since The Denizen is being marketed to property investors in Hong Kong among other places, some of those who buy into these as yet unbuilt ghost flats are likely to hail from that territory. The lack of democracy in the City of London will be familiar to them from their hometown. The local council here is positively feudal and is largely elected on a business vote (something long abolished in the rest of the UK). Both Hong Kong and the City of London could do with a revived version of the ‘umbrella revolution’ associated with the Occupy Central democracy movement on Hong Kong Island. However it seems more likely that those buying into The Denizen off-plan will come to terms with ‘the life within’ by drinking several bottles of rum a day, rather than by participating in future Occupy London protests.

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The Denizen: Where Dumb Meets Stupid

The proposed site of The Denizen is a few metres inside the City of London borough boundary, and Taylor Wimpey make far more of this than the location warrants; essentially these will be City fringe properties and like other developments in EC1 they are being marketed as ghost home investments to speculators in South East Asia. Potential victims of Taylor Wimpey’s disingenuous sales pitch in South East Asia will already be familiar with Denizen as a clothes brand owned by Levis but with jeans sold at ‘cheap and cheerful’ prices compared to the company’s ‘original’ products. Although Taylor Wimpey tap into hype about cheap jeans, their proposed development is over-priced and dingy; and life inside it is likely to be ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short’.

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Denizen Property Investors Go To Hell!

Fraudulent Denizen promotional blurb aimed at residential property investors: “The Barbican is the ancient heart of the City of London, a place steeped in history. During the 17th century, it attracted the entrepreneurial, the conspiring and the artistic. In the area’s many coffeehouses, plans were laid, and great minds met. William Shakespeare, Ben Johnson and John Milton all worked here. It’s a legacy we see today in the Barbican Centre and the City’s enterprising spirit.” The Barbican Complex is actually a world-class example of brutalist architecture built around fifty years ago. It is located in a neighbourhood called Cripplegate, and it lies beyond the original city wall; obviously this is not ‘the ancient heart of the City of London’ because it was not actually a part of the original city at all, it lay outside it! Likewise, in Shakespeare and Johnson’s time the area was notorious for its brothels. This is why Johnson among others refers to the place as Pict-hatch; which was also the name for the studded split entry doors that were a feature of bawdy houses of that time. Taylor Wimpey should be reported to the Advertising Standards Authority for their blatant misrepresentation of Cripplegate Without’s location and history!

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Chris Hayward: Clockwork Tory

The skyscrapers Hayward wants to see built aren’t simply office space; they are as Alex Simpson observed in an article published on City Metric earlier this year ‘a monument to the city’s worship of finance’. As Simpson notes, developers are sometimes over ambitious and some projects fail. After funding dried up, The Pinnacle was left as a partially built shell and became known as The Stump. Perhaps Hayward is dreaming that the redevelopment of The Stump as 22 Bishopsgate might in some way parallel his future political career no matter how unlikely this seems. On his City website Hayward boasts of 30 years experience in local government and stresses that the last four were as a councillor for the utterly undemocratic business vote ward of Broad Street. Hayward has been forced to scale down his political ambitions from being an MP to being one of a tiny group of councillors ‘elected’ on no votes whatsoever; and it seems that the only way to get Hayward to scale down his support for overdevelopment in the form of schemes like Gerrymander Mansions is to smash the rotten City of London political culture in which he’s enmeshed.

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