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Billy Bragg backs Potters Fields alternative

Writer and singer Billy Bragg has given his support to the alternative plans for Potters Fields.

L-R: The Berkeley Homes towers and The Hill
L-R: The Berkeley Homes towers and The Hill
hoarding at Potters Fields
Last year Berkeley Homes erected a hoarding around its portion of the site

"This South London site at Potters Fields offers a place for people to visit, play, and picnic and enjoy the river views, so I would prefer to see something there which maintains local people's access to the river, rather than a collection of tower blocks which cuts them off from it," says Billy Brag.

"The Hill offers a positive solution for the site by creating a building that can sustain itself without draining local resources, creating a legacy for our children's children – something for everyone to enjoy, rather than just those privileged enough to own an expensive apartment in one of the tower blocks."

Billy Bragg's message of support was read out at a meeting on Friday evening where residents were invited to give their ideas to Aah! architect Kathryn Findlay who is working on drawings.

The early stage concept is a "grass not glass" hill with art attractions below ground.

Designs are to be presented in March as part of a bid for the project to be an official 2012 Olympics cultural attraction benefitting the community.

The packed meeting also heard a statement from Southwark Council which seemed to suggest that – despite previous assertions from Berkeley Homes – the developer would be unable to proceed with just three of the planned eight residential towers without the co-operation of the council.

An online petition against Berkeley Homes' proposal for the site has now attracted more than 400 signatures.

Tower of London status under threat

Some of the objections to the Berkeley Homes development have related to its location across the river from the Tower of London World Heritage Site.

Unesco is now threatening to place the Tower of London on its list of endangered World Heritage Sites because of concerns about the impact of nearby developments, including the Shard of Glass at London Bridge.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has to demonstrate to the World Heritage Committee why the Tower of London should not be included on the list and give a timetable for "corrective action".

A joint team from the World Heritage Centre and the independent International Council on Monuments and Sites visited the Tower in early November and toured the sites of nearby planned developments, including Potters Fields where they were met by a Southwark Council planning officer.

"Our response to these criticisms will be that our planning controls are among the most sophisticated in the world," says a DCMS spokesman. "As a result we are pretty confident we will not be placed on the danger list."

Unesco's final decision is expected in June.

Extract from Southwark Council statement
Of the two Berkeley Homes schemes, one scheme ('the Corner Scheme') relates to a residential building on the south east corner of the site (which is owned by Berkeley Homes), and the other scheme ('the Wider Scheme') provides for residential buildings across part of the site owned by Berkeley Homes and another part which is owned by Southwark Council.

As the Wider Scheme is a single scheme under the granted planning permission, if it is proceeded with, Berkeley Homes would need to obtain Southwark Council's co-operation (as a land owner of part of the site). 
Southwark Council is committed to exercising its rights as a land owner in a proper and responsible way.

The Council is also committed to ensuring that it performs its statutory obligations as a planning authority and its legal obligations as land owner of part of the site.

Potters Fields is an important and strategically significant site on the banks of the Thames.

The Council will continue to work towards helping deliver the best outcome for borough, whilst recognising and complying with all relevant rights and obligations.

Southwark Council's Culture service will consider any proposal with regards to the Potters Fields site in line with the Council's normal statutory responsibility as a local authority.

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