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Update on Blackfriars Road SPD

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Tuesday 18 February 2014 9.42pm
"those who are against the plans appear to be acting out of self interest"

Of course, your not are you?
Tuesday 18 February 2014 10.45pm
sjac wrote:
As areas become more desireable and more expensive, some people are going to be forced to leave (both private and council).

This is the crucial difference in opinion. Some of us believe that nobody should be forced to leave. It is all about mixed communities, not economic cleansing and uprooting people from where they have lived for generations just because someone can make more money of the land.
Tuesday 18 February 2014 10.47pm
There seems little reason to knock down viable residential blocks nearby, when Blackfriars Road itself is still so much just a double ribbon of disused or declining seventies-type commercial buildings.

I'd love to see the road brought (back) to life, and that's surely what it should start with.
Wednesday 19 February 2014 10.50am
boroughonian: Seeing as how I live in a different area of SE1 and have no ties to any developers or planners, I would say that I'm not acting out of self interest at all, I'm merely a 3rd party observer.

nelson: That was my point exactly. If people are of the opinion that nobody should be forced to leave then that needs to be balanced with an acceptance that the reduced funds received by the council will reduce the amount of new quality council stock to be built. It's great to say "nobody has to move and free council homes for everyone!" but that's just not realistic.

Boroman's point on Blackfriars Road is understandable, but unsurprisingly the buildings closer to the river and closer to the current developments will attract greater interest for redevelopment (it would be very difficult to find any tenants for an office building stuck by itself at the end of Blackfriars Road).
Wednesday 19 February 2014 11.44pm
I never understand why London doesn't have a proper zoning plan - no other 'world city' has left-over chunks of two-storey subsidised social housing in prime, central commercial areas.

The British are just totally incapable of conducting a rational planning policy.
Thursday 20 February 2014 12.36am
You have obviously visited lots of 'world cities', I must confess I have only been to a few but the ones I visited seemed to have 'evolved' pretty much as London has, rather than been designed. I like the mix of housing and commerce and would probably feel quite claustrophobic if I lived in suburbia. It also means that I don't have to travel far to work which is good really because I am an office cleaner and couldn't afford to commute into the city - also the hours are really anti-social and just don't fit in with TfL timetables. Fortunately I live in subsidised housing which makes up for my low wages. I don't have the same life style as my new neighbours in the luxury block that has just gone up round the corner, but I make ends meet and even enjoy the odd weekend away. Perhaps I'll make my next trip to one of these 'world cities'.
Thursday 20 February 2014 9.36am
Well said Karen. Floodplain has obviously never seen Quadrant House - it's eight floors, Edward Edwards House is two floors and neither of these residential properties are actually on Blackfriars Road.

Boroman's point is a good one. Local residents have been asking for years why so much commercial property is emptied of tenants then left to rot. The area between Stamford Street and Christchurch was emptied of businesses at least eight years ago, Hill house and Erlang House have been empty for probably as long. The building which pre-dates the new 240 building was demolished around 10 years ago and the site left empty until construction re-started on 240 around 2 1/2 years ago. So yes, let's start with the eyesores that are no longer in use and see how that goes before demolishing 60 - 70 homes purely for financial gain.
Thursday 20 February 2014 2.43pm
Floodplain: I think that London is working on improving its zoning plan, but most 'world cities' don't have 2000 year old foundations (which can result in some pretty strange planning) nor have they had to deal with substantial destruction 70 years ago and the real housing crisis that followed (which necessitated the construction of whatever housing possible, wherever). Personally, I think the last 15 years or so have been a real push in the right direction.

Karen: I'm sympathetic to your situation, but stand by what I said in my previous post: "If people are of the opinion that nobody should be forced to leave then that needs to be balanced with an acceptance that the reduced funds received by the council will reduce the amount of new quality council stock to be built." Those like yourself who are fortunate to live in subsidised housing in a prime location need to recognise that there is a knock-on effect for the many in need who will therefore not be housed. There's a delicate Balance to be struck.

suziq: It's not quite that simple. The vacant commercial units on Blackfriars were unlikely to have been "emptied of tenants" on purpose. I would expect that there is very little (if any) occupier demand in that area, and substantial refurbishment (at substantial cost) would be required to try to attract any tenants, and even that may not be enough due to the surrounding area. The reason 240 Blackfriars sat as an empty site for so long is that the rents that would have been generated by development did not justify the build costs until very recently. When you say "let's start with the eyesores", there needs to be economic viability behind those schemes and that doesn't exist quite yet. Don't forget, a lot of the money behind these REITs and developers comes from our pensions, university endowments, insurers, etc. Financial gain is essential for any development, and this is not a "bad thing".
Thursday 20 February 2014 5.26pm
Ah, sjac, so the residents of Quadrant House are to be the sacrificial lambs. I think the residents of Quadrant House (or any other council/charity run accommodation) would be less 'bothered' if the plan was to rebuild the block, bring it up to the 21st century and increase the number of units available (and hopefully come back and live there), but we all know this is not what will happen. Either office blocks will be built, or another hotel, or a luxury block of flats. And of course there will be no social or 'affordable' properties, and in all reality, if it is a luxury block of flats, there will be no-one living there because they will be bought by overseas investors (Neo Bankside being a good example). There is a shortage of housing in London but no-one is interested in building housing that an average wage earner can afford because they can get a greater return on their investment building office blocks and luxury housing. If the Blackfriars SPD was all about housing and local community, greedy developers wouldn't be interested, this would drive down the value of the land and then it might encourage less greedy developers to build some much needed housing.
Thursday 20 February 2014 5.46pm
I was at the meeting on Tuesday and Cllr Colley said "large-scale development would happen along Blackfriars Road regardless of whether the council had formulated any guidance, and the SPD's joined-up approach provided an opportunity to ensure that local people get the best possible deal". So all they've done is given the green light for this 'large-scale' development. They could equally have given them a red light, and come up with a plan that really does 'ensure that local people get the best possible deal'.

I believe BARD (Blackfriars Action for Responsible Development) are meeting tonight at 7pm in Nelson Square; I suspect (hoping) the result of the meeting will be discussed and we'll be looking at whether a legal challenge is mounted. Come along.
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