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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Officially It’s The Denizen But To Locals It’s The Turd!

Central London is full of developments known by ridiculous names like The Shard, The Gherkin, The Walkie Talkie and The Cheesegrater. Many of these monikers are informally conferred on the buildings. While not yet built, The Denizen’s nickname The Turd is fitting because it absolutely stinks that the site was flogged off to Taylor Wimpey by the City of London, and then granted planning permission by the same local authority. It simultaneously underscores that Allford Hall Monaghan Morris broke the rule that architects shouldn’t shit on their own doorstep. That’s exactly what AHMM have done with The Turd, the site is a short walk from their Old Street office. The Denizen’s design makes it look like a toxic crap from another unloved local ghost home complex, The Bum, officially TP Bennett’s Bezier apartments on Old Street roundabout.

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Culture Mile: A Nightmare On Beech Street

If the City of London wishes to become a ‘world-class’ cultural destination then clearly it needs to dump its current arts policies that relentlessly pursue the middle-brow, apparently with the aim of facilitating corporate junkets. More of a gritty urban vibe is required, alongside cultural institutions that actively do away with the Puritanism that has characterised the City establishment for hundreds of years. The last thing needed is a privately educated knob like “Sir’ Simon Rattle promoting light orchestral garbage in a specially built and extortionately expensive ‘Centre for Music’ AKA a concert hall. The best way to vibe up the neighbourhood is the provision of a great deal more social housing, so that there is an even bigger working class population. Not that it isn’t substantial already on both the Golden Lane Estate within the City of London, and in the extensive Peabody Trust social housing that lies just over the borough boundary with Islington.

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Taylor Wimpey Will Screw Gerrymander Mansions Apartment Buyers!

While those thinking of buying into Taylor Wimpey’s proposed Gerrymander Mansions development might be under the impression it is a gold-plated investment opportunity, should they be foolish enough to part with their money they’re more than likely to find themselves mugged off with a liability rather than an asset. Of course demolition hasn’t even started on Bernard Morgan House – the social housing in Golden Lane that Taylor Wimpey plans to replace with luxury flats – but Gerrymander Mansions already has thousands of enraged neighbours!

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From Grenfell Tower to Gerrymander Mansions

Peter Deakins has just seen one project he oversaw that was designed to produce superior social housing destroyed with many lives lost by a cost-cutting refurbishment at Grenfell Tower; and he’ll soon see another in the form of the Golden Lane Estate damaged if Taylor Wimpey’s over-scaled development on the site of Bernard Morgan House goes ahead. Some flats on the Golden Lane Estate will lose as much as 70% of the light coming into them if Taylor Wimpey’s Gerrrymander Mansions is built.

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The Corporation of London rules by plutocratic diktat!

The City of London has an entirely different system of local government to the rest of the UK; and one that is completely undemocratic. This is unfair to the residents of the borough and requires immediate rectification. The decision of the Corporation’s Planning Committee to approve the demolition of the architecturally significant Bernard Morgan House, and to allow Taylor Wimpey to build an over-scaled luxury apartment block on the site is indicative of all that’s wrong with this council. We have addressed potential conflict of interest issues and the vote rigging implications of this decision elsewhere. What we wish to underline here is that neither the Planning Committee nor the council has a mandate from local people and therefore their decisions are illegitimate. The City of London is the only place in the UK to retain the business vote, and there are roughly twice as many of these as residential votes. The ward boundaries and Alderman system also favour big business over people.

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6 Members of the City of London Planning Committee

We’re fairly sure we’ve identified the ten people who voted against Taylor Wimpey’s Gerrymander Mansions development, which leaves those who either didn’t vote or voted in favour of it. So here is some background business and political information about six members of the Planning Committee who we suspect didn’t vote against the application. There are three aristocrats, a butcher, an IT professional and a barrister: Graeme Martyn Smith, Henry Nicholas Almroth Colthurst, James de Sausmarez, Paul Nicholas Martinelli, Robert Picton Seymour Howard and William Upton.

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Social Housing Not Social Cleansing! Stop The Gerrymander Mansions Luxury Development In Golden Lane!

The residential electorate in the City only numbers a few thousand, so unfortunately it’s easy for entrenched interests to game the system by uprooting relatively small parts of the population to change the social composition of Wards. Thus the status quo’s response to growing dissatisfaction and self-organisation is to shift as much social housing as possible outside the tiny borough and increase the overall percentage of compliant rich living within its boundaries. One manifestation of this was the decision to shut down the police section house on Golden Lane, which was built to put a roof over the heads of around 110 people. At the time of its closure Bernard Morgan House was housing not just cops but nurses as well; whether it had become surplus to police requirements is a moot point, but it was certainly still needed for NHS staff and school teachers.

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