Friday 14 October 2011 12.05pm
I went to see this Rodney Road exhibition.
Not only is the courtyard private, but it's also 3 meters higher than the pavement level which in my opinion a complete no - no. Underneath courtyard is parking.
Asking the developer why not have parking below ground as is most common on the continent I get answer that it is too expensive. LL are trying to build and price flats according to the going rate in the area. I think this statement as such shows that the developer doesn't seem to have too much aspiration to provide a good housing scheme, and interpret it as let's build something cheap for a cheap area. But why bother with this? Only winner with that approach is the current developer getting some profit from the scheme, and the next developer in 30 years time when the new buildings are deemed as unsatisfactory for then current times.
As for courtyard being private, obviously LL think it would be a nice marketing gimmick for selling flats. However, personally I think the reality of an open courtyard accessible to public at street level may not sounds as exclusive when selling but wear much better in future as if it's a private garden only not many residents will even end up going down there. Segregation isn't good long term and prevents community building.
LL also tries to use the public park in the next phase as a good excuse why courtyards can be private. I disagree however and used Regents park as a comparison where you have a large area with a variety of small gardens dotted about. The rose garden for an example. So what about having a large public park and many small public accessible courtyards each with a special and specific feel to it? I think this approach would be far more attractive not only to existing local residents but also to new residents as the offer is greater, more varied and far more interesting. Therefore I feel a selection of public accessible courtyards in the area will actually be more valuable and attractive for everyone than that pseudo 'luxury' ghetto approach.
Developers arguments that people will pull out trees and stuff I find simply not good enough an argument. Preventing access that no one can harm the plants doesn't deal with the issue in the first place. This needs to be tackled on the root because surely it's the minority that would vandalise a garden and not the majority. Why exclusively design for the minority and deprave the majority of local people and residents alike from a bit of green space?
I suggested having all entrances off the courtyard. Not only would this bring that space to life but also people in various blocks would have a common place they can meet and build a community. If entrances are on three different streets you'll only ever get to meet people living in your block only. I think a lot of current new build schemes completely design community out of their projects. Surely, this is not good for anyone either long term.
As for the flats. What about something inexpensive but aspirational for a change? What about providing a few flats bigger than average - not everyone wants to live in a 46 sqm 1 bed or 65sqm 2 bed. We can only attract the crowd we make provisions for. If provision isn't varied then we will not get a mixed crowd of residents and for a long term success I feel a mix is absolutely essential. We also should have some 3 and 4 bedroom flats, and maybe some houses. If we only provide 1 and 2 beds it will most likely attract a more transitional crowd than a permanent one staying for decades and building up some sort of community.
I sincerely do wonder what's the point in doing regeneration but only half hearted? Surely then it would have been possible to re-use the existing structures and make something interesting out of that. But I guess less profit would be in that. Look what they have doen in east germany out of some of their 'plattenbauten'.