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?
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"
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.Read more "Hex In The Park: Cursing Out EC1 Ghost Homes"