I was the only resident who spoke at the Inquiry on the Renzo Piano building (not to object to the building per se, before you get all hot under the collar by making assumptions based on a 'not in my backyard' stereotype, Ruck and Maul). I got the feeling that the inspector would have allowed other residents who registered interest after the initial day to speak. I really dont know the rules, but am guessing its down to the discretion of the inspector.
Even without speaking, it makes a big difference when lots of residents turn up on particular days. Three residents objecting would be much more powerful if on that day, several dozen others came along. Inspectors really dont expect many residents, and it creates an impression when there's a bit of a turnout.
Thanks Ms Jo
I agree that as many residents should turn up as possible when we are "on".
We plan to organise a petition in Potters Field Park at the beginning of June to collect as many signatures as possible, which we can then present to the Inspector.
Also we will be using the voting figures from the poll on this site so if anyone has not voted yet please do so now.
Pretty cool under the collar here Ms Jo... You are a resident and are absolutely entitled to your opinion - more so than others not so affected (has been my point all along). I can respect that completely even if I may disagree...
It's important but doubt its impact on the world is quite as you describe... There are bigger issues out there with far more impact on the world... If it's as important to everyone as you say I am sure that the turn-out to the enquiry will run into its thousands by the end... Or not.
Hmmm... let's see. Shall I rise to the bait quite as easily as this reply deserves? No, I think its cyncism and short-sightedness is so blatant that other readers (not in Hampstead, daahling,) will be able to dismiss it out of hand too.
Oh.... go on then...
Leaving aside the merits or otherwise or the actual proposals, it seems to me that it is an issue of national importance which will affect the international reputation and cultural standing of London around the world. Maybe not in a genocide in Rwanda or torture in Iraq way, but in terms of people making subtle but important judgements about London and the UK on the basis of how the country/city/neighbourhood cares for its built environment.
The Tower of London is a World Heritage Site, recognised by UNESCO as being of global cultural significance. Tower Bridge is regularly used by Hollywood feature films, which help to shape millions of peoples' perceptions, as an establishing shot to show that the action which follows takes place in London. When I think of Paris these days, I inevitably think of the modernist arch at La Defense, as well as Notre Dame, the Louvre etc - even though I've never been to La Defense when visiting Paris. It is therefore not overstating it to say that what is built in the neighbourhood of the Tower and the Bridge is of international significance - as I think Norman Foster understood when proposing the designs for City Hall, and as Ian Ritichie and Berkeley Homes would probably claim for their own proposals.
I've recently moved from Tooley Street to Wellington, New Zealand, and I can tell you, I'm making judgements all the time about the city, its administration and the values people here have, based on the sort of built environment they are encouraging or prepared to tolerate. For example, I think it is pretty crackers of them to have a four-six lane road between the city centre and the waterfront of the harbour, at a time when the city is spending millions to promote tourism. I care about the building that will replace the World Trade Centre in New York City, even though I don't live there, because how a society shapes its built environment is an indicator (though not infallible) of its cultural values.
If someone can name me some solid examples of proposals to build a significant modernist development near to a World Heritage Site as old as the Tower which aren't controversial enough to be commented on internationally, then I'll accept that I'm wrong in supporting Michael's comment above. But if you can, the mere fact that you have means you'll have proved my point, since the proposal will have registered as culturally significant enough for it to be internationally commented upon. Certainly I think it's unlikely that we wouldn't care to some degree if there were proposals to build something next to Notre Dame in Paris or in the middle of Rome, or next to the Acropolis. This is not to be anti- anything new/modern, simply saying that a site is sensitive and people care about what happens there.
Finally, while it is important that a lot of residents of the area, and other places in London (maybe Hampstead, even), turn up to the Inquiry, to try and suggest that it's not important if they don't is not a very sound argument. There will shortly be a very low turnout for elections to the European Parliament, but I don't think most (intelligent) people would accept that as a valid indicator of that institution's importance. I'm too young to remember it, but having spoken to people from Coin Street, I don't think there were exactly London-wide demonstrations when they were fighting to stop the proposed office development there.
Just for the record, since I should be clear on my stance on the Berkeley Homes proposal, I think the architecture of the proposed buildings themselves, although incredibly mediocre, has a bare level of acceptability (that's why they hired Ian Ritchie after all, to give them some quality). However, they would look much better elsewhere (next to the Dome or in Canary Wharf) than on the site proposed, where they would be positively damaging. This debate is not just about the buildings themselves, but the location it is proposed they be built.