If anyone is interested in how Barratts are going to turn almost the entire south-eastern end of Blackfriars Rd (Hill House, Erlang House and Milcote House) into 400 shoeboxes, there is an exhibition of the plans next week.
I cannot work out how to upload the scanned flyer to here, I'm afraid, but it will be on 22 and 23 May, between noon and 9pm at Ground Floor, ASC Studios, Erlang House, 128 Blackfriars Rd.
Well I went today at lunchtime - it was pretty busy. The development consists of 400 new homes (25% are some form of social housing), 16.5kft retail space and 35k office space.
My main concern is the rather hideous 28 storey builing which dwarfs the St Georges circus monument. The nearest building (8 storey's) to the circus is set back and there will be some public space/courtyard (linked to Library Street) which is likely to be in the shadow of the 28 storey block.
The ground floor of the development will be retail units/cafes, which of course in the marketing pamph. are busy cycling cafes and fab restaurants with tables outside. Living on Blackfriars road the only people I see outside are the hardiest of smokers. Twice they mentioned how they were trying to create a Grande Boulevard similar to those in Paris!
With the exception of the 28 storey tower its not a terrible development (especially compared to what's there already) but the buildings are so bland I just think its a bit of a missed opportunity.
I encourage people to go and visit, especially people from Peabody Estate, as their listed estate will suffer a significant loss of sunlight from direction SE and S - by being in the shadow of the proposed 30 story building.
What are the merits of a 30 story building here? Apparently according to Barretts -
1) It creates a landmark
2) The proposals are not economically viable without it.
And my own personal take on this 30 story building?
1) The landmark feature in this area is St Georges Obelisk. This is officially a Conservation Area and is recognised and valued as such by the Council. The 30 story proposals would detract from, undermine and negatively impact the obelisk. It would therefore negatively impact the Conservation Area The 30 story building is imposing, distracting, unsympathetic and completely out of character for its context.
2) Who needs a 30 story building to know where you are? Cyclist, lorry driver, pedestrian? No - they look ahead. Perhaps if you are a google earth satalite in out of space,it might be useful as a landmark, and that is where Barretts ideas seem to be on this. Barretts seem out of context, out of touch and need to get their ideas back down to earth.
3)South Blackfriars Road is NOT Elephant and Castle. It is NOT North Blackfriars Road. It should continue to be a restful space between two very pressurised areas. As soon as a building in South Blackfriars Road is approved to be 30 stories high - it will set a precedent for the whole area - it will be game over. All the human scale buildings will be bulldosed and we will shortly be living in METROPOLIS - Which I for one, hope remains a sci-fi film.
Speak to any Architect, (when they are not paid to back some outlandish egotistic skyscraper) and they will tell you that human scale residential development works best.
3) New 'public space' - I very much welcome the cut through from Library St to Blackfriars Road ( The existing is in use by the wider community on a regular basis) However, I am not convinced that the proposed wider public space is going to work. I think it would wok directly on Blackfriars Road - as it would make Blackfriars Road more active., Yet having the proposed public space set back, in an area with negotiable sunlight hours, I fear it will attract lots of anti social activities - as the place will only really be active in the day (with cafe and businesses) and not in the evening (when they all shut shop). In the evening it will be a dead space. Apparently it will have CCTV etc, yet we all know this doesn't actually stop drunks, noise and anti social activity. I also think that although it will have high natural surveillance, which is great, it will have little natural ownership as most the residents will be 15 stories high and detached from it. My suggestion is that the cut through should be retained, yet that the public space proposals in this location be reduced and for the proposed public space to be built upon as much as reasonably possible - and this I hope would help provide economic argument to reduce the height of that 30 story eyesore!!
If they build a 28 storey block there, it will set a precident for the rest of the street and we'll enter into a battle of the developers as to who can build the biggest and ugliest buildings on Blackfriars Road.
In general, I'm supportive of having more people and more small commercial units in the area. Perhaps with more people we can have more 'stuff' open at the weekends, and the commercial units will make a useful next step up for the businesses in the university incubator on the other side of the road.
I like the building that faces onto the Circus. If they can really get a successful A3 unit in there, it could bring some much needed evening life to the neighbourhood.
The rest of the blocks are so-so. Not great, not terrible, and an OK height. There aren't enough family sized flats, though; some three bedroom and no four bedroom units. Where are people with children who need home offices/studies supposed to live?
I'm in agreement with Charly that the 28/30-floor tower is out of order.
Firstly, as Charly says, it's in the wrong place. There are clear clusters of tall buildings planned for the other end of Blackfriars Road and around the transport hub at E&C. In the context of the neighbourhood, this is too tall. My guess is that they've gone for something huge in order to be argued down (cf the Linden Homes development).
I don't think it works in the architects' terms, either. They said that they want a statement building to announce the start of Blackfriars Road.
This works at the top end of the road, where the buildings could be seen from the bridge and the North Bank, but it doesn't work from street level in the approaches to St George's Circus.
The tower itself is uninteresting and looks like the sort of thing that might be built in the centre of a provincial town. It just doesn't stand out like the Shard, Strata, Trellick Tower, and many other "statement" towers.
My biggest disappointment with the plan is that it doesn't take out the Maudsley's facility, so whatever active street life their plans show will continue to be affected by the users of that service.