I know others have already worked hard to resist this during the PI stage but if this news is true opponents of this scheme are really going to have to up the ante. One issue is to look at how life can be made difficult for Berkeley - there are a number of tactics that can be used to cause financial pain to the company and those need to be discussed soon.
In the interim this issue needs to be publicised more. I know there were a few articles in the papers around the time of the PI but none of them had a good photograph of this eyesore. I am amazed at how easily Berkeley got away with using graphics that were clearly deceptive in that they made a twenty storey tower look the same height as the GLA building.
One suggestion would be to raise funds to place a full page ad in one of the national papers, and the Evening Standard, showing a proper graphic of just how tall and bulky these buildings will be, how they will overshadow Tower Bridge and dominate Shad Thames, and how they are completely out of keeping with the existing scale of development.
If this can be done soon enough and the publicity results in sufficient opposition in the city, nationally and perhaps internationally then Prescott may pause to reconsider what at present will be his automatic approval of the PI's recommendation. Not sure how and who organises this but I wonder if anyone else thinks this idea has some merit?
(What really annoys me is that it seems that there has been a concerted effort to maintain a reasonable height for development along the river for the past several decades which has meant places like Shad Thames maintain some real character. Even More London was limited to 10 storeys. Berkeley come along and say screw everybody we will build as high and as ugly as possible - and it gets approved! )
In terms of gathering support online for taking some action - as opposed to organising via meetings in the neighbourhood, you might want to look at a website called Pledgebank: http://www.pledgebank.com/.
But you don't want to go off at half-cock when using something like that, so getting together to decide how you want to formulate your pledge will be important.
Alas the rudest and most negative articles in the world dont seem to have the smallest effect on J. Prescott and co., and the public at large is powerless in the face of the bulldozer of commercialism which seems to be the overriding impetus behind any of these quite staggeringly inappropriate developments of which Potters Fields is only one. I could really weep at the crass insensitivity to any reasonable appeal to reason which accompanies all these projects and the social irresponsibilty which is ignored and scoffed at. The quality of life in these disgusting developments is exactly what was decried previously and caused the demolition of the horrendous tower blocks everywhere...i.e. overdevelopment with insufficient air/light/green spaces etc., and an impersonal and isolated atmosphere causing lack of social cohesion and interaction and so on....and now they are building the same thing all over again only for MONEY instead of as social housing. It's a shocking example of unmitigated GREEEEEED.
Today in The Times Sport section there's a fantastic piece by Martin Samuel on the Car Park-isation of Hackney Marshes football fields and also a great deal on CPO being used in East London re the 2012 Olympics. Not sure if you can read it online but the journalist gives his Email as [email protected]
On a slightly different note - not that there is anything wrong at all in putting pressure on Prescott/Berkeley Homes - one of the things that I think it would be useful to do, is to try and agree on a community vision for what should be on the site. It is all too easy for developers to throw around accusations of NIMBYism if local residents don't have a positive alternative they would like to see in place of the ghastly towers.
Personally, I am not persuaded at the moment by the alternative of an arts venue on the Potters Field site, nor a sports venue for the Olympics I'm afraid. What I would like to see is a combination of an extension of the park, plus something which I argued for at the time of More London's masterplan being approved back in 1998.
This is a combination of library/learning support centre, day care for children, and a cafe. Obviously it would be possible to have a small-medium size gallery in there too. This type of use of the space would mesh quite well with the existing former school building. Sadly the previous regime at Southwark did not go for this idea (preferring barking ideas about building and running a training school for the hospitality industry for only £1m, which inevitably never came to pass), so not a lot to do with this kind of provision has emerged from the substantial s.106 money which was available. A serious lost opportunity in my view.
As usual, the people over at Coin Street have managed to go ahead with an idea where Southwark has missed the boat, obviously helped by the fact that they own the land, but still... You can read about their proposed new Stamford Street Neighbourhood Centre on the organisation's News page at the moment but since the particular news item may disappear, I've copied in below what they say the building will include.
a family and children's centre including:
* a 60-place neighbourhood nursery
* a 10-place creche facility for those undertaking training or otherwise using the centre
out of school, parent/family and youth activities
[There certainly used to be shortage of nursery and creche places in the Tooley St. neighbourhood - has this problem now eased? Perhaps a needs assessment would be a good thing to winkle out of Southwark under the FOI Act?]
a learning and enterprise support centre including:
* training, conference and meeting facilities
* signposting, information, advice and support services for individuals and businesses
* in-house workshops and training courses to meet local need and fill gaps in the market, including support for accessing local job opportunities
* outreach work with local residential and business communities
* support for new businesses, particularly social enterprises
a community cafe and space for social events and meetings
The building will also house offices for staff working for the various Coin Street organisations. [It seems to me a similar building on Potters Fields could house the Fair Community Housing Services TMO if they ever feel pinched for space, as well as rehousing the Tooley Street Tenants Association and a friends of Potters Fields Park group if this is ever resurrected, to name just a few.]
The building will also contain "a retail/restaurant unit, rented on a commercial basis" which presumably will help provide an income stream to help pay for the building's running costs. [I can see that this would be a bit of a winner on the Potters Field Site too, given the views available.]
So... there's my suggestion for what should go on the site - something which would be really useful for people living in the area on a daily basis, as opposed to expensive and ugly housing or an arts venue they would likely use once a month or quarter.
Of course, if you wanted to stick a 50 metre swimming pool in the basement, that would be great too...
Sorry... meant to say: the obvious problem with what I've just suggested above is the price of the land, and getting it off Berkeley Homes in the first place. The value of the land will drop if people can persuade Prescott not to approve the planning application (not easy, but nothing good is ever easy to achieve), but since the site is part owned by Southwark, the current plans will not be implemented unless the Council sells Berkeley Homes the land. So pressure on Southwark not to back down and sell will also be crucial.
It seems to me that opponents to the present propsal also need to be ready for Berkeley Homes pulling another design out of their back pocket, which can be built on only the land they own, should Prescott approve the idea of high-rise housing on the site in principle.