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Exhibition of Barratt's major development of Blackfriars Rd.

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Saturday 25 May 2013 12.49pm
I live on Webber Row and have a really keen interest in how our local area is being developed. I'm not against development as it's clearly a part of living in a city like London, but I do care about the loss of significant period buildings in the area when it's primarily about landowners demolishing them in order ot make enormous profits for themselves, so I'm always on the lookout for any proposed plans.

On Thursday gone I went along to the public exhibition held at Erlang House and spent over an hour there, looking at the plans and speaking with one of the team carrying out the environmental impact work. Here are my thoughts and it would be useful to see what others think who went along to see the plans as no doubt there will be a planning application at some point soon:

1. Generally that whole section of Blackfriars Road looks run down and dilapidated and there are no buildings of architectural value; therefore, making something better of the space is obviously a good idea.

2. The proposed design has apparently taken the architects nine months to develop and consists of three buildings of (I think) 6-8 storeys in height, with a 30-storey tower in the middle of them. All of these buildings will be for residential use apart from some retail units at ground level. Apparently Barratt's have agreed that 25% of these units will be allocated as affordable housing.

3. The proposed materials are light in colour and didn't look too bad to my relatively untrained eye; there has also been some attempt to create a sort of townhouse facade styling.

4. The intention to have cafes and restaurants inside the courtyard could bring some much-needed life to this section of Blackfriars Road where the main footfall at present is people rushing to and from the nearby tube stations or catching their buses home. The local community doesn't have a nice place to meet and it would be good to see cafes and restaurants that aren't based on extortionately priced food and drink and also a part greened area for people to enjoy.

5. The smaller retail/workshop units inside the courtyard are meant to encourage smaller businesses, which would be a welcome development as long as ultimately the rents aren't set at a prohibitively high rate.

6. Behind these taller buildings there is a courtyard with paving and seating, very little greenery, and a series of 2-storey retail units backing onto Library Street. There is an opening which for the first time would create access from Library Street through to Blackfriars Road. I questioned the lack of greening and the enviromental impact team confirmed that this was to be addressed with features such as more trees, a green wall, planting of a number of flower species, and planting on the (private access only) roofs on top of the smaller retail units within the courtyard.

7. The 30-storey tower is, of course, enormous and would positively dwarf every building for miles around, as could clearly be seen from the scaled model of the area provided at the exhibition. I personally consider this proposed tower to be of a completely inappropriate height for the area and, while the stated intention is to create a "landmark building", in my view there was nothing about the design that would make it stand out architecturally; its only "landmark" feature would be its completely disproportionate height.

8. The other major concern I have about this proposed tower is the loss of light it would create throughout the morning for the student accommodation to the north at St George's Circus, and for the rest of the day for the units behind the tower inside the courtyard and the existing buildings along Library Street. When I questioned someone from the environmental impact team about the loss of light and how distressing this can be for residents of existing buildings, the firm reply was that if it's a case of hundreds of new homes for people and a few people having loss of light into their existing homes then the former should take priority over the latter. I found this a quite disturbing attitude, especially in a development that is proposing only 25% affordable housing and thus does relatively little to provide homes for the less well-off.

I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this new development and get a discussion going as it's a really major project for our area.
Sunday 26 May 2013 8.23am
I live relatively locally too, and do agree with your observations. It will, however, not be the only high tower in the area. Kings Reach currently stands at 30 and will become even higher, One Blackfriars will come to a similar height.

Although I am not particualrly keen on the high rise myself, I feel that with a few more around they may almost start ot blend in.
Sunday 26 May 2013 12.24pm
One Blackfriars is at the opposite end of Blackfriars Road to the proposed new development and forms part of a 'strip' of high buildings near the river (of which Kings Reach is a part) and which will continue to get denser with the Coin Street Tower and the Shell Centre & Elisabeth House developments.

The nearest tall building to the proposed tower is probably the H10 hotel at the junction of Westminster Bridge Road and Waterloo Road which is only 13 storeys.

Unless some of the larger housing estates are completely redeveloed, I'm not sure there are many potential nearby sites with a big enough footprint near St George's Circus (well, maybe the Linden Homes site) for the proposed tower to ever be anything other than an isolated column stuck between the riverside and E&C clusters.
Saturday 13 July 2013 2.54pm
The material from the exhibition is now online: http://barrattblackfriarsroad.com/

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Wednesday 17 July 2013 8.10pm
The tower actually looks pretty good, restrained but good. It's in the style of the new london vernacular which is commonplace in the kings cross regeneration.

The building I'm most worried about is the short building facing the circus, it's bordering on Pomo and something much more ambitious could be done with the site.

To say the tower detracts from the central monument is frankly laughable, it's currently stuck in the middle of a non description round a bout, which nobody can get near too and is surrounded on at least 2 sides by cheap architecture.

Blackfriars road will absolutely become a new high rise boulevard of towers up too around 30 floors, the fight is lost as the towers in elephant and nearer the river will naturally link up. The best thing for this street is to focus on good quality materials, designated cycle lanes, high quality urban realm, a retail experience with street life and new pocket parks.
Tuesday 17 June 2014 10.15am
Revised planning application now online:

http://planningonline.southwark.gov.uk/AcolNetCGI.exe?ACTION=UNWRAP&RIPNAME=Root.PgeDocs&TheSystemkey=9555035

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Tuesday 17 June 2014 12.14pm
The images on their site in the gallery section show an 18-storey building next to the tower, though this does not seem to be on any of the Southwark Council plans. I was just wondering which website has the most up-to-date plans?
Wednesday 18 June 2014 9.27pm
DavidS wrote:
The images on their site in the gallery section show an 18-storey building next to the tower, though this does not seem to be on any of the Southwark Council plans. I was just wondering which website has the most up-to-date plans?

The images, plans and information on the Southwark website (online planning register) are the most up-to-date plans. I haven't seen the images on the Barratt website, but from your description those sound like an earlier proposal. The lumpish 18 storey block is no longer a part of the proposal.
Thursday 19 June 2014 8.03am
Head of DM wrote:
DavidS wrote:
The images on their site in the gallery section show an 18-storey building next to the tower, though this does not seem to be on any of the Southwark Council plans. I was just wondering which website has the most up-to-date plans?

The images, plans and information on the Southwark website (online planning register) are the most up-to-date plans. I haven't seen the images on the Barratt website, but from your description those sound like an earlier proposal. The lumpish 18 storey block is no longer a part of the proposal.

Thanks; that's good to hear.
Thursday 10 July 2014 6.36am
Local residents to the area received a nice colourful brochure about this development (128-150 Blackfriars Road) yesterday.

One picture I did pick up on is the remodelling of the roads at St Georges Circus. I found some of the pictures online - http://take.ms/W6uAD and http://take.ms/5UPtC as part of the photographs in the Planning App above.

The main roundabout seems to have shrunk considerably and some new cycle lanes seem to have been created. Is this just wishful thinking of the developers / designer (with some Photoshop prettifying) or have these plans been confirmed? I don't remember seeing St Georges Circus mentioned much in the Blackfriars Road redevelopment document...
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