Moving wholesale markets to the edge of the city is sensible and is to be welcomed, as is the use of some of the freed up land for housing; as long as this doesn’t turn out to be luxury ghost homes for investors. That said, the City has already made it clear it wants to use Smithfield and the site of the Museum of London (if it is vacated) for vanity Culture Mile projects rather than housing. We don’t want a dead culture pitched to the victims of an unsustainable tourist industry. None of the exciting new cultural developments – such as grime – that have emerged from London in recent decades were funded by artwashing out-of-touch ‘patrons’ such as the City of London. Rather they grew from the very communities the Culture Mile will effectively exclude. Building council flats to sustain social diversity would do a lot more for culture in London than the Culture Mile will ever achieve.Read more "City Of London’s Culture Mile & Submission Of Markets Plan"
The failure to suspend construction work on the City of London’s COLPAI project during the Covid 19 pandemic lockdown has generated enormous anger among residents of this local authority’s Golden Lane Estate. This is hardly surprising given these residents found themselves stuck at home a few metres from non-essential but ongoing noisy building work. Critical blogs on the subject by local councillors Sue Pearson and Graeme Harrower have been avidly read. Some of the comments beneath them are heart wrenching, such as one written by the father of a sick child undergoing treatment for cancer. This entire family must remain in isolation due to the high risk the pandemic poses to its youngest child. while the mega-rich City of London council turns a deaf ear on their plight.Read more "COLPAI Construction Work, Lockdown & The Democratic Reform Of The City"
Islington Bunhill councillor Phil Graham brought up a proposal to extend Fortune Street Park as the possible outcome of a scheme to prevent Golden Lane and Fortune Street becoming a rat run for traffic excluded from Beech Street and trying to avoid Old Street roundabout. Although Graham didn’t provide details, we assume this would mean extending the park onto at least the west end of Fortune Street itself and the closure and erasure of some or all of this side street. Turning much of Fortune Street into an extension of the local park is a fantastic idea and sadly one that was rejected a few years ago because it would become harder to access the services that run under that street. Hopefully those issues have been resolved and extending the park is now possible. There is a shortage of green space in the City and south Islington, and Fortune Street Park is clearly stretched to capacity both at lunchtimes and immediately after home time at local schools. That said, even with an extension to Fortune Street Park more public recreation space is required in both south Islington and the City.Read more "How Else Might Islington Bail Out The City Of London On Its Zero Emissions Consultation Fail?"
Those living around Golden Lane who opposed Taylor Wimpey’s demolition of 110 social housing units to build 99 investment flats for ghost home investors (with no on site social or affordable housing), weren’t too surprised by the latest billboards to go up around this developer’s Denizen site. These claim the sales office for The Denizen AKA The Turd is up the road in Golden ‘Street’ (sic) despite the fact it’s in Golden Lane where Taylor Wimpey’s luxury flats are being built on the corner with Fann Street. The hoarding is illustrative of how little the developer knows about the area or indeed cares about it. Just as Taylor Wimpey doesn’t care about the up to 70% loss of light those living in neighbouring council flats have seen disappear from their homes as a result of this building. Or the impact on the park and schools The Turd also overshadows.Read more "Another Denizen Howler From Taylor Wimpey"
A few weeks after the mid-January release of plans for Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s dog’s dinner of a Centre For Music building on the site of the current Museum of London, comes news of an ambitious project to build a new classical music venue in Wimbledon (part of the Borough of Merton) in south-west London. Since there is already a concert hall in The Barbican Arts Centre, and another a few minutes away in the form of LSO St Luke’s on Old Street, it is clearly pointless building yet another classical music hangout within easy walking distance of these two existing auditoriums. What many local people want is more social housing, so why not use the Museum of London site to deliver the council flats the City of London has promised but so far failed to build?Read more "Stuff The City of London’s Centre For Music! If We Need A New Classical Concert Hall Build It In Merton!"
Those familiar with the City of London council will not be surprised by the news that after landing a huge grant from the Mayor of London’s housing investment scheme, it has quietly dropped its plan to build 3700 new council homes by 2025. Likewise it would be silly to take at all seriously the claim: “The corporation said its budget for building new homes had come under pressure…” The modest size of this ‘pressured’ budget is a political decision; the Corporation could cease spending the millions in interest generated by its City’s Cash sovereign wealth fund on lobbying for neo-liberal economic policies and instead use the money for house building. However this is unlikely to happen until there is democratic reform of the local authority and the council chamber ceases to be controlled by undemocratic business votes.Read more "City of London’s Neo-Liberal Politics Puts Londoners’ Housing Needs Last"
At a City of London planning committee meeting last year both James Thomson and Mark Boleat voted in favour of Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen development; this will replace 110 social housing units with 99 over-priced luxury flats and with no on site social or affordable housing. This demonstrates exactly where both men are coming from on housing issues. It’s all about money-making over local social need. James Thomson was formerly deputy chief financial officer and chief operations officer of Cushman and Wakefield, commercial property and real estate consultants, which marketed and sold the site he voted to grant planning permission for to Taylor Wimpey. Likewise, the local authority to which Thomson has been ‘elected’ doesn’t seem in the least bit bothered about how it looks when it gives work to the company of which he is the CEO.Read more "James Thomson & The City of London Property Development Lobby"
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’.Read more "City Planning ‘Tsar’ Annie Hampson Gets An OBE, Those She Allegedly ‘Serves’ Get The Turd!"
The aldermanic election in Portsoken on 14 December 2014 provides a peek into the surreal nature of City politics. Despite three out of four candidates standing as independents, at least two of these ‘independents’ had binding party political affiliations. Labour have caused a bit of an upset in the City in recent years by successfully standing official candidates for election in three out of four ‘residential’ wards, Portsoken, Aldersgate and Cripplegate.Read more "Portsoken Election Demonstrates Urgent Need For City Reform"
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.Read more "Culture Mile: A Cynical Exercise in Marginalisation & Social Exclusion"