My name is Regine and I am an architecture student at the Architectural Association School. Working in this site of Waterloo, I'm interested in what the community would want changed in the area, responses to the physical changes proposed in the Waterloo Development Framework. I personally think a social proposition would create better links between the community, council and governing bodies in the area. What about the organisation of events and more use of the public realm? I am open to any comments, positive or negative; that would help me in this research project.
Ah, the wonders of youthful idealism. Let's get one thing clear; the only usefulness Waterloo or vast chunks of SE1 are currently serving economically and politically is as a cheap and adjacent overspill for the city and west end. Labour really don't care when there is a Lib Dem as what amounts to a permanent incumbent MP in much of it nor when the actual politically active population is so low. The Tories care even less so since it will be decades before they stand a chance. All very cynical I know, but, reality happens to be far more cynical than most people would like to believe.
Give it another 20 years or so and most of what us real people will find recognisable will be Borough High Street and some bits of Bermondsey, Waterloo station itself and a few other enclaves and that only because so much of them are listed and even then so long as you don't cast your eye above the roof tops. If you do you will likely see a wall of glass and steel high rises that will fill the periphery from Vauxhall in the west to at least Tower Bridge road in the east and south to Walworth and Kennington Roads. Without a Landmark like St Paul's you might well struggle to know what way you are facing. Many of the new buildings going up now will have been long replaced by newer, more profitable ones.
The market will prevail and the market wants more office space and more 'apartments' not more 'community services' and 'flats'. The only community facilities it's interested in are shops, bars, restaurants others that make money. The only flats it is interested in are the ones that it levels to make way for the apartments and its idea of community services.
Before you think I have some sort of problem with this, think again. I just can't be bothered to play at being King Canute. The thing to do is make the best out of it that you can. If you are really lucky you may end up quids in and still living here. If not you might end up living in another 'flat' Stockwell or Peckham. Ironically, the estate I live on largely housed people relocated from Peckham when it was built. Today, some 30 years later, they are the OAPs.Much of it is occupied by Students renting off those former Peckham residents who cashed in and moved elsewhere. For many of us the real disadvantages, particularly for families, of living where we do come close to balancing the advantages of moving elsewhere. Somewhere you can park a car, even with a resident permit, is one example, or somewhere that has a cheaper local supermarket with range that extends beyond those wanting to by lunch than the Tesco in Covent Garden.
Here speaks an Architect, with over 20 years of experience, and who wishes that schools of architecture stop selling the utopian, social visions that they still do. The same damned visions that gave us the Heygate estate and the much maligned Elephant and Castle shopping centre. Ironically, that's one place that currently comes as close as reality does to their dreams. It's full of services, stalls and shops that are really useful to the real people who make up the local population. It has specialist shops for stuff you'll struggle to find elsewhere. One thing that I'm certain of is that when it is 'redeveloped' it will look just like any other shopping centre anywhere in the UK and that it will offer just as little in terms of variety to local shoppers. If you want a new frock for a date you'll stand a chance. If you want a new light bulb you may as well forget it now, get on a bus and find the nearest B&Q. It'll be the exact same shops in virtually the exact same order that sells nothing that you actually need and everything that you subjectively want - a well tried and trusted formula that was defined years ago (you can guess that I spent some time designing shopping centres).
I'm sorry if this shatters your illusions of community involvement and the rest, but it is the way it will be. You, I, anyone else living here, Southwark or Lambeth councils and the Government will be as helpless to stop it as the population of the Isle of Dogs have been. It's just so much political lip service that will enable the market to reach its potential in the end. As I suggested, some of it is deliberately cynical, but most of it is purely incidental and it's part of the inevitable end game.
I live in Waterloo and what I'd like to see changed is that eyesore Hungerford car park (which is Metropolitan Open Land!!!) turned into a park along with the whole of Jubilee Gardens. It's a scandal that this land was given for £1.00 to the South Bank Centre who do not have the funds or the expertise to look after it. As the area develops and we get more tourists (London Eye, Tate Modern visitors up 20%), more apartments and more offices we need to protect and look after the precious little green space that exists on this prime central London location on this side of the river.
Rumour has it that the Mayor is fed up with the SBC failing to look after the site that is planning to step in and take it over before the Olympics.
Thanks Reg Lynch and boroughbloke. I really appreciate your opinions. I feel somewhat detached from the area (Also being foreign to the country)as I'm just getting to know both the social and physical intricacies of it. (along with how the separate institutions work and the policies and development proposals etc) I look forward to more responses! thanks again.
Unfortunately you are talking about Lambeth Council - always listed toward the bottom of local authority league tables. They have a long history of corruption and are something of a joke. Even our MP at the South Bank Forum will make comments like "there's a view that you can get away with anything in Lasmbeth".
One of the reason South Bank Employers Group was set up was because the local council is so weak it cannot get a grip on public spaces.