I think Michael was merely suggesting that it was frustrating not to be able to post to the forum in the 24 hours before 3rd parties were appearing at the Inquiry.
Because people are alerted by email when a new post is added to the forum, it acts as a pseudo mailing list and a good way to get a reminder out to people that, if they were able to, it would be helpful if they could attend to show their opposition to the proposals.
Anyway, I think that's what was intended - I think the word 'crashing' might not have been the world's best choice of words, but then again, when the forum did go offline for the upgrade, unless you had been following threads where this was being discussed you might have thought it had crashed rather than being deliberately taken offline for maintenance. I know I was slightly thrown by it until I remembered that it had been previously mentioned.
What you say makes perfect sense - and Michael's already explained my interpretation wasn't what he intended - and I've apologised for over-reacting.
Personally, I still think the use of the words "crashing" and "untimely" was unfortunate.
If I had spent a huge amount of time working out the logistics of an upgrade, carried it out pretty seamlessly over 24 hours, and then seen that post, I would have thought we are all a bunch of ingrates and wondered why I bothered. This is because I am less than perfect (and I'm having a bad week ). James H, of course, probably would have understood it as it was meant....
Loafer -many thanks for your input.
Have just returned from the Inquiry. My main point was that the scheme was absolutely and totally wrong for the site. All other matters were secondary to that.
I submitted some collages I had made up early this morning superimposing the Towers on views from Queen Eliazabeth Street, Gainsford Street and my house in Lafone Street. Mr Village picked up that in general I seemed to have over enlarged the appearance of the towers (I can'[t think why!) which I admitted could possibly be the case but having admitted that I said that regardless of that they did give a general impression of the ghastliness of the scheme when seen fron the Shad Thames Streets. My other points were to point out to the inspector that he should take notice of how closely Ian Ritchie is still connected with CABE ( the only public quango to support the scheme) and also pointed out that Ken Livingstones opinion should be taken in context with all the mad schemes he has supported in the past! I searched on Google this morning for - ken livingston mad - and there were pages and pages of results!
I also pointed out the figures from Southwarks consultation document where out of 50 responses there was only one in favour and that was St Martins Property Co.
Apart from that, the inspector having clearly given instructyions that he only wanted to hear fresh evidence, I had nothing more to say. After six weeks of others covering every conceivable aspect of the case it was a wonder I could come up with anything. I also asked him to note that we were totally behind English heritage and Historic Royal Palaces in their opposition to the scheme.
Micky - the inquiry is adjouned until 2nd July when the closing submissions will be made. In the meantime the team are going on site visits to, believe it or not, Paris, Leipzig and London!
Jo I have a terrible admission to make - I got the final numers of the poll from James early yesterday morning but in the rush to comlete my collages and statement I forgot to mention them - apologies to all - especially James.
I have pasted a copy of my statement underneath - I made a few extra comments and had to answer some cross examination but basically that was my case.
Statement by Alan Chapman
on behalf of the
Tooley Street and Tower Bridge Community Association
I am Alan Chapman and I have been asked by the Tooley Street and Tower Bridge Community association to speak on their behalf at this inquiry. Apart form this I have lived in Bermondsey since 1980 and in the Butlers Wharf area since 1990 and consequently have a great personal interest in this proposed development.
In the early seventies my business was based on the river at Honduras Wharf in Bankside until forced to sell out to developers under threat of compulsory purchase by Southwark. During that time I had a small boat and made many trips along the river and consequently have first hand experience of all the changes that have taken place on the river banks since that time. The business was engaged in the maintenance of buildings and we had many contracts at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and more pertinently The Tower of London. I mention this only to give you some my background and as to why I care about this particular site.
The Inspector asked yesterday prior to Dr Hugo de Burgh speaking that we should only address ourselves to new evidence. This is particularly difficult when the Inquiry has been sitting for six weeks, at vast cost, taking evidence form many expert witnesses whom, even though I have not been able to hear their evidence, I am sure will have covered nearly every point that can be made.
It is however important that the views of local residents be heard by this enquiry - after all we are the people who live here and the ones who will be affected by whatever decision the Secretary of State arrives at.
It has not been possible for our association to attend the inquiry on a regular basis in view of the extreme length of the inquiry. Our members are all working voluntarily and have their own occupations to attend to. This however has placed us at a disadvantage since we do not have knowledge of much that has been raised at the inquiry. So please forgive me if I make points which have already been made and accepted by other parties.
Rather than go through the inspector's list of main issues one by one as I had originally intended I will now only concentrate on evidence that shows that the development is absolutely wrong for the site. I have no wish to go into as to whether proper attention has been made for traffic control, parking or affordable housing etc. We would be quite happy to see affordable housing on the site and am quite sure that the council and developers can sort out all the other minutiae that appear to have taken up so much time at this inquiry. The real issue that should be addressed is that the scheme is totally unsuitable for this site. All other issues are secondary to this one.
Mr Village in his opening statement made many points with which I agree, in paragraphs 1-3 he accurately describes the site, its location and its neglect over recent years. (Read out from his statement) In paragraphs 4,to 10 he eulogises about Mr Ritchie and his scheme.
As regards Mr Ritchie he is without doubt a world-class architect. I have seen his completed projects in the Louvre in Paris, both the pyramid and also the roof over the sculpture court. I was also in Leipzig in January and saw the Exhibition Hall even though at the time I did not realise it was also by Mr Ritchie. All these projects are acknowledged by all to be first class architecture and entirely suitable to their surroundings.
However his scheme for this site is not “quite simply brilliant” as stated by Mr Village. It is quite simply a disaster. It is absolutely and totally wrong for this site. My personal reaction on first seeing the developers plans and images was one of absolute horror and disbelief. On further consideration I realised that the scheme had merits if taken on its own but that it would be far more suited to Shanghai, Benidorm or Miami Beach.
The concept that good architecture will mitigate a bad scheme is totally unacceptable.
The points I am about to make address the Main Issues 4,6,7 and 12 of the Appeal A as listed by the Inspector on 26th April 2004as well as Issues 2,4 and 5 of Appeal D
Without doubt the “cluster of tapering towers” ranging from twelve to eighteen storeys high will dominate the surrounding conservation areas in a very unpleasant fashion. Not only the blocks of flats in Tooley Street will lose their views and privacy but so also will many of the residents in the Butlers Wharf area, myself included. The people living in Tooley Street will look out of their windows and see nothing but a wall of glass and net curtains. Their views of Tower Bridge and the Tower of London will be blocked, their local park will be become the back yard of the development totally overshadowed in all senses of the word by the development. And when they can stand the view no longer and decide to go out for a walk they will be buffeted by the high winds that are inevitably associated with such a development. .
Those living in Shad Thames will be similarly affected though not at such close quarters. The reason I moved from Bermondsey Square to Shad Thames was that I was attracted by the “urban fabric of Shad Thames”. It is a conservation area that has been generally sympathetically redeveloped retaining the original buildings where possible. Those new buildings that have been erected match the warehouse conversions in density and height.
I first used to drive along Shad Thames in the early seventies The street scene today is not very different today except for the absence of lorries loading and unloading their goods. If this new development goes ahead the charm of this area will be badly affected.
As regards evidence. I am very happy to rely on the evidence given by Mr Antram of English Heritage and Mr Drury of Historic Royal Palaces, Even though I did not attend the inquiry during whilst they were speaking I have read their proofs of evidence and whilst I would like to have backed them up on their evidence I take note that the Inspector does not want want duplication. However I would be grateful if he would record that the Tooley Street and Tower Bridge Community Association agrees totally with their objection to this scheme.
No one has I believe assessed in detail the impact of this development on the Conservation area containing Shad Thames.
Berkeley Homes in their Non Technical Summary dated 12/2002 Para 220.127.116.11 state that the development will have little impact on the character and appearance of the Tooley Street North and Tooley Street South Conservation area. They must be living on a different planet. At present there are no buildings within the Shad Thames area, I believe which are more that 30 metres high. The buildings on the development rise to 67 metres just yards away and will totally dominate the area.
They go on to say that the corner building will enhance the Conservation area, especially views of the Bridge from the south and provide a welcome vista to views from the east. This is absolute rubbish. The building has few if any merits, is much too high and far from providing a welcome vista will block views from the east of the listed buildings at Lambeth College.
The corner building is totally out of proportion to the properties on the other side of Tower Bridge Road and also to the Bridgemasters House.
Already More London has blocked out the view of St Paul's that one had from Queen Elizabeth Street. At present there are really no high-rise buildings visible from the streets of Shad Thames, apart from the Vogans Tower which has always been higher than the surrounding buildings, having previously a hopper for grain storage. If this development is built whenever one were to look to the east one will see a wall of glass towers which by their very height will dominate the whole area. I took some photographs yesterday, which I would like to submit to the enquiry, which show that the current view when looking west from both Queen Elizabeth Street and Gainsford Street. You will see that from Queen Elizabeth Street one can see Lambeth College and its Lantern, a very attractive view. From Gainsford Street there are no buildings above the roof level of the shops on Tower Bridge Approach. (I then submitted collages showing how the towers would dominate the Shad Thames area - these were put together by me that morning and unfortunately slightly over exaggerated their appearance!) .
In paragraphs 18 and 19 of Mr Villages opening statement he places great importance on the assessment of the scheme by CABE. He states “CABE offers a ringing endorsement for the skill with which the architect has handled this important site.”
When I first read the Summary of Consultation responses obtained by Southwark regarding the proposed development I was very surprised to read that CABE had given their approval to such an inappropriate development. Whereas English heritage and Historic Royal Palaces had objected. It was only on learning that Ian Ritchie had been one of the founding Commissioners of CABE from it's inception in 1999 until 2001 that all became clear. Indeed last year when their opinion was given he was still acting on their behalf as an “emeritus commissioner” chairing an architectural competition. I submit a press release from cabe as evidence of this. It follows that he still has a very close relation ship with CABE and therefore It is hardly surprising that CABE commends Berkeley Homes for using Ian Ritchie and also advises them not to change the architect after gaining planning permission. I ask most strongly that this point is taken into consideration by the Inspector and that such reliance as is given to the opinion as expressed by CABE be disregarded for the purposes of this inquiry.
I would like to finish by reminding the Inspector that in Appendix B of the Development Control Report: Full Application dated 02/09/03 - Summary of Consultation Responses - none of the Local Interest Group Responses were in favour of the development and of the fifty Individual Consultation Responses only one was in support and that was from St Martins Property. Surely this level of opposition should be given more weight when the Secretary of State makes his decision that the views of the Mayor who is obviously out of touch with his electorate. I have done a search on Google this morning using the words Ken Livingston and mad. There are pages of results where his schemes are described as mad by many different people. I agree with what Mr Village was pressing Miss O'Donnell to admit yesterday morning - The secretary of State should pay great attention to the views of the Mayor - Mr Prescott has had great experience over many years of having to live with Ken and I will I am sure assess his opinion accordingly.