This page reads chronologically so the newest entries are at the bottom!!
We added in the 35% Campaign video as it’s really good on dispelling the lies and myths of the regeneration scheme. Enjoy.
The famous Heygate Estate is/was a massive concrete warren and reaches from Walworth Rd to New Kent Rd, containing 1100 homes. Standing on prime development land, the Heygate tenants had been previously victorious in slowing down the gentrification of the area by insisting on a good deal when the Estate is knocked down as one of the first moves necessary to get the development ball rolling (swinging?). In March 2002, the three-way negotiation between the council, developers (Southwark Land Regeneration) and local tenants resulted in the council and developers scrapping the deal as they couldn’t agree on who would get what share of the profits. Result? Three million pounds lost by the developers and shedloads of money wasted by the council. At that time, a ballot of Heygate tenants overwhelmingly said they wished to keep the Council as their landlord, their tenancies being more secure and cheaper than often unaccountable Housing Associations. Realising that the tenants wielded the ultimate voice on whether the ‘regeneration’ would begin, the new Liberal Democrat council decided to blackmail the tenants into either accepting new Housing Association buildings in the Heygate area or being moved outside of Walworth if they wanted to stay with the Council.
Look at the map above through your special Property Developer Cash-Tinted Spectacles and you’ll see why Heygate Estate had to be removed from the Zone 1 super transport-connected Elephant & Castle. A massive site of prime cheap land for new expensive private housing.
Here is a long extract from an essay written by geographers James DeFillipis and Peter North (who was living in the Elephant at the time) and involved in the Elephant Links Community Forum. The full text is full of personal insight as well as well-grounded research and, of course, a participants experience. It’s well worth reading: DeFillpis & North, The Emancipatory Community? Place, politics and collective action in cities
“In 1999, Southwark led a partnership of local people, businesses, voluntary organisations and other public sector organisations that won a Single Regeneration Budget funding bid from central government. A private sector partner in development was chosen the following year to carry forward the plans for regeneration in the area. The Elephant Links programme was about the transformation of urban space and the communities living there. It would also be about the age-old question: who would benefit from this transformation?
…To inform its bid, the council convened a Resident’s Regeneration Group (RRG) made up of local people who met for 18 months and developed their own ‘principles for effective regeneration’: the need to improve – and replace any lost – council-owned housing, environmental improvements to local green spaces and improved community facilities. But these considerations were not at the heart of the council’s regeneration agenda. In the eyes of the Labour-led Southwark council, local residents would be consulted but they would not be in charge of the regeneration process. The main themes of the SRB funding were worked up by council officers and presented to partners somewhat late in the day in what appeared as fait accompli. The bid did not address major community issues around housing and the need for community facilities. The bulk of the expenditure would go to provide environmental and transport works to facilitate physical development and the council’s flagship inclusion programme…Thus the bid focused on top down New Labour-friendly social inclusion policies rather than the community-generated programmes developed by the RRG.
Residents had to fight to get the regeneration programme to address their concerns…Community activists resolved to make Elephant Links a partnership led by local residents. They were concerned that the council was working to a hidden ‘social cleansing’ agenda. In an infamous remark, Southwark’s then Director of Regeneration, Fred Manson, argued that ‘We need to have a wider range of people living in the borough…social housing generates people on low incomes coming in and that generates poor school performances, middle class people stay away’. Southwark, it was argued, suffered from having too many of the ‘wrong sort’ of residents…
…The Council’s answer was managed but inclusive gentrification to bring in more wealthy residents with higher levels of social capital and labour market involvement and paying higher levels of local tax, which could be used to benefit local residents (provided they were not displaced in the process).”
From the essay ‘The Emancipatory Community? Place, politics and collective action in cities’ by James DeFilippis and Peter North appearing in the book ‘The Emancipatory City: Paradoxes and Possibilities‘. Edited by L Lees (Sage Publications, 2004)
AFTER THE FALLING OUT – The next scandal!
October 2008: With Lend Lease (a consortium of Lend Lease, Oakmayne and First Base) finally named as the responsible developers for a newer re-jigged regeneration scheme, the decanting of Heygate tenants into non-existant Housing Association new builds has been a right vicious debacle. Three years after the ‘New Homes for Heygate Tenants’ plans were approved, only one planning application had been submitted out of a promised 16 new Housing Association-run blocks. This is to be built at Comus Place / Townsend St site. Dave Ware, Regeneration Team Project Director, said at a Walworth Community Council meeting ‘I can only apologise and say that this was more difficult than we appreciated’.
The one new build to come from the regeneration, Garland Court on Wansey St, opened in 2006 with some decanted Heygate tenants. The award-winning scheme comprises ‘31 flats…with 12 affordable rented flats, 7 in shared ownership and 7 privately owned’. That’s makes how many council tenancies? The Council’s 16 chosen sites are for ‘mixed-tenure’ anyway – ‘that means there will be some for social rent (approximately 50%), the remainder for sale on the open market’. (One For Sale March 2008 – £227,299). One bedroom flat at Garland Court for sale December 2012 at £295,000!
With the clearing of the estate overdue by September 2009 and the completion date for 1000 new homes being 2011, we wondered how many more lame apologies the regenerators might be forced to make for their despicable treatment of their paying tenants?
We also wondered then how Heygate tenants might feel when they read that the Council spent more than £65,000 on three staff parties at the trendy Vinopolis winebar near Borough Market, one of these being for the benefit of the Regeneration Dept officials.
Council tenants were being asked to find homes themselves through the Council’s Homesearch waiting list and bidding scheme. Needless to say the available properties were thin on the ground (especially for people who wish to remain in Walworth). The Council begun to issue eviction notices to tenants with the threat of getting the boot hanging over the head of those who failed to find their own Council place or refuse any offer the Council makes.
Two residents had this to say to the South London Press in March 2008, the original deadline for finding homes – ‘Southwark must remove the threat of issuing notice of evictions to seek possession, remove the six-month time to finding a home through the Homesearch and build the replacement homes on early housing sites before demolishing the estate’.
‘Happiness gurus to descend on Heygate’ reports the SLP on October 7th 2008. Yes, it’s true, the Council with it’s infinite tact is paying The Happiness Project £2000 to train Heygate tenants ‘to be happier and less stressed’. The project’s motto is ‘Success is a state of mind; happiness is a way of travelling; love is your true power’. We suggest the Council adopts this as the new Borough motto. In this way the non-appearance of flats for the decant tenants can merely be seen as a state of mind and not the shameful scandal it is. Ernie Hart from Heygate said ‘All they need to do to stop tenants feeling anxious is to talk to us and give us what we need. What we want is very simple: to move into a nice new home that is decorated with no fuss. We just want to be treated properly, we don’t need therapists’.
Joyce Cundle – a resident at The Elephant for 42 years quoted from ‘My Elephant’: ‘What changes have you seen over the years?
I have seen many – not all for the good. The sheer volume of new high rise flats and buildings have corroded the friendliness around here. I know it is impossible to avoid building new homes but the buildings should be more broken up and not so many high rises close together…When I was a child if you were ill neighbours would take care of you, now we don’t even know each other.
What do you think of the regeneration plans?
…I feel sorry for the residents of the estates that are being knocked down who will have to leave the Elephant and Castle. With so many new people coming to live here it will force a lot of people out…’
Source? ‘Quarter’ #4 Spring / Summer 2008 ‘the official regeneration magazine for the Elephant and Castle produced by Southwark Council and its development partners Lend Lease’. 45,000 copies distributed locally with the wise words of Joyce.
Five of the Sixteen Housing Schemes Announced:
Oct 2008 – Five planning applications were sent to Southwark Planning regarding new houses for decanted Heygate tenants and, of course, private buyers. (Not sure of the ratio of HA to Private as yet!). The shemes are under the orbit of London & Quadrant Housing Association. The sites for the new builds will be Brandon St (18 homes), Library St (40 homes), New Kent Rd (52 homes), Townsend St (37 homes) and St George’s Rd (15 homes). The plans for Townsend St and St George’s Rd are lind here. Metaphorm Architects, responsible for the new blocks at Brandon and Library St are also designers of a ridiculously ugly three colour tower block proposed to be built on top of the parade of community shops on Rodney Rd / Stead St. It’s worth checking their project pictures (Go to ‘Residential’ link) on their website to see the kind of people they either think already live here, or worse, will move into the new developments. Let’s say that the pictures aren’t as diverse as the community that’s already here.
Another bizarre feature of the proposed developments for new housing around the Rodney Rd area is the destruction of part of the recently renovated Nursery Row park there. Re-opened with new trees and plants, pathways and street furniture in September 2007 after the Council spent £300,000 on it, it now seems like large parts of it including the 15 year old community orchard will be concreted over for new housing. Not a very good example of what Management types call ‘joined-up thinking’.
DECEMBER 2009 – Regeneration means Displacement
This question was recently posed on the very interesting Se1 Forum discussion on the E+C regeneration plans:
‘Does anyone know how it is supposed to work for decanted Heygate tenants? Have they been promised flats in the new developments whenever they are built? Or will most of the decanted tenants remain where they now are?
James Hatts who runs the forum replied:
Only a small percentage have signed up to maintain their right to return to the Elephant (ie move twice). In some cases this is because they prefer to remain council tenants – whereas those who return post-development will have to become housing association tenants instead. The council expects that the percentage that actually exercises the right to return at the end of the process will be even smaller, as people will have settled in their new homes elsewhere in the borough and be reluctant to go through the upheaval of moving again. So, yes, so far as I can see the old population of the Heygate will effectively be broken up forever’.
NOVEMBER 2008 400 families are left on the estate and nearly 80 have had eviction proceedings begun against them.
JANUARY 2010 – There are 100 households are left on the estate with the vast majority of the place sealed up – walkways fenced in and hundreds of flats welded shut. Those holding out are made up of 58 secure tenants and 14 non-secure ones and the last 28 leaseholders who have yet to accept the low amount being offered to them. At what stage does the Council use the power of Compulsory Purchase?
FEBRUARY 2010: Compulsory Purchase? Well, it didn’t take long at all. “The London Borough of Southwark’s Executive has agreed to make Compulsory Purchase Orders to enable the regeneration of the Heygate and Aylesbury estates”. (Feb 15th, Council Website). The press release finishes up with the words ‘CPOs are considered acceptable where the proposals are in the public interest and where the advantages of regeneration substantially outweigh the disadvantages to those dispossessed‘. Presumably by the time you’ve been CPO’ed and dispossessed you no longer count as a member of the public in whose ‘interest’ the council is working!
A leaseholder wrote to Southwark News concerning the CPO and the low offers made to leaseholders – ‘The valuation for my property I received is very low and I have been unable to find suitable alternative accommodation on the open market that I can afford. The valuation doesn’t reflect anywhere near the genuine market value….It would be difficult not to be cynical, given that the deterioration on the estate has coincided with the decanting process. Recently in a letter (December 2009) sent to us by the Heygate Rehousing Team (Southwark Council) we were urged that, “in considering offers, you also bear in mind the deteriorating condition of the estate and the impact this could have on your quality of life“. Surely it should be Southwark Council that reconsiders their offers in respect to possible consequences to our quality of life‘.
MARCH 2010: Interesting blog with interviews with some remaining residents here. Yvonne says ‘So, after 36 years of living with it, what does she think of Southwark council’s plans to pull it down? “I think it’s disgraceful. There are thousands of people without homes in this country. It turns out the government only meant for these flats to last 30 years. They say the new flats will be cheap but you can tell it’ll be for the rich; gated communities.” She attends all the local housing meetings and feels aggrieved at the lack of care shown by local authorities and central government. “People should have right of tenure, not the council selling the land from under their feet’.
OCTOBER 2010: A new Heygate & Aylesbury Leaseholders Action Group (H.A.L.A.G) has been formed via the sterling and dedicated work of some of the remaining leaseholders awaiting their future on Heygate. They say ‘We are a group of leaseholders who have got together as a result of Southwark Council’s plans to compulsory purchase our homes in order to make way for the coming regeneration scheme. We believe that leaseholders on the Heygate and Aylesbury estates are being excluded from the benefits of the Regeneration scheme. We believe that the council’s valuations do not reflect the true market value of our homes. There is a significant difference between the council’s valuations and the price of other properties in the area. This is resulting in many of us being forced to move out of the area completely.’
NOVEMBER 2010: ‘Council admits failure in Elephant & Castle’
An interesting thread on the Council’s admission of failure re: the Heygate decant can be found here on the In SE1 forum.
As of 30th November there were 3 tenants and 9 leaseholders remaining on the Heygate Estate.
2011: Heygate Phase One site – demolition began in April 2011. Much lauded in the media and of course – Councillor Fiona Colley, cabinet member for regeneration said, “It’s hard to describe what a monumentally huge project the Heygate Estate regeneration is. What comes next is what so many people in the borough are anticipating – the emergence of brand new, warm, safe homes for all.” Indeed, care to tell us something about these homes and how many people in the borough will enjoy them…!
HEYGATE – A LEASEHOLDERS STORY
It’s not just the Heygate tenants who have been treated poorly by the Council. It’s worth reading Adrian’s story written up in a recent Southwark News: ‘Adam Glasspool lives in increasing isolation in the Cuddington block, and claims the money the council is offering for his three bedroom maisonette is forcing him not just out of the Elephant but London altogether.
An independent surveyor commissioned by Mr Glasspool valued the property at £240,000, but the council is offering him far less to up sticks from the dilapidated estate.
Mr Glasspool told the ‘News’: “The council’s surveyors disagreed with this and valued the property at £160,000 claiming that this is what similar properties on the Heygate and the soon to be demolished Aylesbury Estate had been selling for. Clearly, it is ridiculous to compare values with other properties that were earmarked for demolition.” Full story here!
YET MORE INVESTMENT POTENTIAL AT THE ELEPHANT!!
APRIL 9thth 2011: Newly incorporated Heygate Plaza has been exciting those with investments smarts to put their cheese into the savvy opportunity area of the old Heygate Estate, a formerly crime ridden and totally labyrinthine den of thieves and poor people™.
An exciting guerrilla marketing campaign for the Heygate Plaza has been underway in the last few months. Passersby, train and bus commuters and others have been enjoying the D.I.Y style banners hung from high on the (almost) empty estate.
Screen shot from the Heygate Plaza website:
WEDNESDAY October 12th 2011
Yes, the Horror! The Horror! arrives finally now that LendLease and partner architects DRMM unleash the nightmare on Balfour St that many have been expecting. We won’t spend too much time gnashing our teeth here. Better just to lay it out simply:
(1) Heygate Estate, the Rodney Rd site before demolition earlier this year.
- 105 homes of which 26% were family-sized dwellings, 30% were two bedroom, 36% were one bedroom and a further 8% were studio flats. Mostly these were public housing council tenancies.
- A series of streets and open spaces where you could walk however you wanted through the area.
- Lots of trees to enjoy
(2) Rodney Rd, Phase One of The Heygate redevelopment plan
- 250 new homes of which 0% will be four bedroom size, %10 will be family size, 55% will be two bedroom, 30% one bedroom and 5% studio flats.
- Five new developments: 4, 5, 6, 12 and 14 storeys tall.
- A private courtyard in between three of the new blocks.
- A new street through the site ‘Paragon Row’ that links to Henshaw St.
- Less public trees. The real retention of the trees is outlined below:
We ask now – what percentage of these new 250 flats will be in anyway affordable to local people? Not part-buy, part-rent as we know this is supremely unaffordable for most locals but socially rented secure homes. You could almost be forgiven in thinking that after all that ‘listening‘ they want to do to us, that their ears were sadly blocked up with tens or twenties. Oh excuse us, we mean
the pink elephant £50 notes!
What we have here is a dense mass of new housing for a very specific demographic – single people and couples. We said we wanted real affordable housing. We said we wanted family housing. We said we wanted to keep the trees and not have areas privatised under our noses. Their reply, finally, is the silent finger!
If you imagine that the Rodney Rd site is only a mere 10% of the whole Heygate site then you can imagine the horrors to come! A solid dumping ground of blocks and blocks of crappy apartment buildings, cascading in height to accord with Serpentine view and with some townhouses and some public through-routes. Also no doubt lots of what LendLease call ‘semi-private parks’ i.e not public at all times. It’s LendLease’s pile-em up and pack it in strategy from their Olympic Village in the East End. The image from the Village reminds us of the famous Pruitt-Igoe blocks, the giant public housing complex in St Louis, Missouri!
Does it have to be like this? Of course, not. Argument and pressure is what’s needed. Not more phony consultation and sweet sweet honeymoon with LendLease.
(*) of course!!
24th November: Elephant Amenity Network Interim Use Proposals Document ean-interim-use-presentation-241111-web!
OPENING UP THE AREA BY CLOSING IT OFF
Us Southwark Notes oldies do get a bit confused by all the back and forths, going-on and total contradictory words and deeds that come from The Council. On the one hand there has been a lot of heavy talk of supporting temporary uses such as gardening and social activities on the empty-ish site of the Heygate but then on the other hand, they keep closing off access to the site itself despite the wealth of autonomous and free events, talks, walks, films, sports, allotments and other wonderful endeavours local people have been putting on there. Picture below is the sealing up of the popular scenic cut-through from New Kent Rd to Walworth Rd. Boo! ‘Estate Closed Off’ says the new sign. No it isn’t!!
Recent use of the site by Brad Pitt’s filming of his new Zombie film saw all sorts of hassle for those using the estate for their own pleasures not the least to say trying to visit remaining leaseholders still living on the estate. ‘We’ve rented the estate‘, the security guys said, as if that gave them control of the local streets within it.
Could this be due to the nearby Oakmayne Plaza development at New Kent Rd? As you know, Oakmayne have always been those who must be obeyed. If they want it, they get it – see the stealing of the community football spaces, pavements and bike paths on Elephant Rd / New Kent Rd. Now Oakmayne wants to make use of Deacon Way, the road which runs around the inside perimeter of Heygate, for a route for all their big lorries to follow to clear the Plaza site of earth, rubble and whatever else.
Worth reading the following Heygate Urban Forest pages on the details of the above arguments around access and support for temporary uses and also of the commonwealth of activities folks are holding now on The Heygate and not waiting for permission or answers.
This beautiful map by local artist Rebecca Davies has been produced too. Download it here.
HEYGATE LIVES – Summer / Autumn 2011
Roses in bloom, community allotments, bat night walks, guerilla cinema, parkour, naked people, impromptu parties with local rappers, BBQ’s, Paella Festival, St Joao night, graffiti, football, strolls and drifts….local folks enjoying the site as if it never went away…
JANUARY 2012: JANET and LARRY MOVE OUT by KING CHAIN productions: ‘The film follows Larry and Janet, as they are forced to move from their beloved home on the Heygate Estate in London’s Elephant and Castle. The film covers their 37-years on the estate, the changes that have happened and considers the wider issues of social housing in the UK‘.
Gives you some sense of the real life human stories behind all the ‘crime estate from hell‘ and ‘hundreds of new homes for Heygate residents‘ PR spin that endlessly appear to this day in the media via Southwark Council press department. When we say ‘real life’ we simply mean to affirm once again the scandal of the Heygate decant.
March 2012:The Heygate Community Gardens are still going strong with all sorts of stuff being planted now it’s Spring again. The Better Elephant people have erected a permanent exhibition in the gardens that looks at alternatives for the Heygate Site.
The Council had been round with both barrels blazing saying they were going to clear it all away. They even confiscated the pond pump a few days before the grand opening of the fish pond. After a serious talking too and and some shaming in the local paper and various social networks they backed off (“for the time being“) muttering how they would ‘continue to monitor the general health & safety on the site prior to demolition works taking place to ensure that the site also remains safe for the remaining residents‘. Seeing as 1) the remaining residents built the pond and 2) it’s in a raised bed surrounded by concrete and a metal barrier, it’s pretty safe for all, this surely makes no-sense. Full report on the threat and the backing-off here.
Why it seems important to the Council to get rid of the gardens is that they seem to want to seal the site off, allow Oakmayne Properties Tribeca Sq development a free access to the circular Deacon Way that runs around the estate so that their lorries can come and go and to make sure that the estate goes out of sight and out of mind. For all the Council’s talk and alleged interest in what’s called ‘interim-use’ on the estate, that means not letting a massive chunk of land and trees sit empty behind hoardings for years, they seem keen to barricade it off as soon as possible. Despite numerous serious proposals for interim uses developed by the local community, LendLease’s idea is that the only possible community uses made of the area will be for a possible shipping container market thing for ‘business start-ups‘ at the old Shell garage on Walworth Rd and the ‘developer compliant‘ Mobile Gardeners project for the empty plot of land on Wansey St.
Any road up the experiments with the chickens didn’t fare too well as the local foxes made a quick killing on that one although we here they were confused that these chickens didn’t come with a Southern Fried taste of 57 herbs and spices! The new fish pond is faring better especially now the heron has been chased away! See, it’s just like the countryside but in a fantastic urban setting! Lots to do there, so get involved by just showing up and saying hello and seeing what needs doing! Sunday is always a good time to meet people there. You can find the gardens between the Cuddington blocks of the maisonettes in the centre of the Heygate estate.
Summer 2012: New chicken co-op built from paving slabs – very chi-chi! But that’s alright as there are some new chickens hanging out and being very happy in the Heygate Community Gardens. Also new, the poly-tunnel for growing veggies! Plus some more graffiti pieces brightening up the place…
New video from the great 35% Campaign about how we need to demand a minimum of 35% affordable housing in the Elephant regeneration scheme.
July 25th 2012: Council Vandalises Community Gardens
15th AUG 2012: Southwark Council issue Compulsory Purchase OrderS to HEYGATE LEASEHOLDERS
It’s been a long time coming for the remaining Heygate leaseholders who have been living amongst 1100 empty and welded-shut flats for a very long time now. This week the Council instead of making them a decent offer (which would really only amount to a fraction of the money wasted so far on years of on-site security, lighting bills, graffiti and rubbish removal) and finally served Compulsory Purchase Orders on the leaseholders. We would like to come back to the use of CPO’s later on and especially the despicable and shabby treatment on Aylesbury of the elderly Wolverton block tenants. Today however we just want to extend our best wishes and support for the Heygate folks and wish them all the best in their last stand to be treated with respect and with common sense by The Council.
15th August 2012 Press Statement: Heygate Leaseholders Group
“Despite being situated just a few hundred yards from a zone 1 tube station, we are currently only being offered around half the Borough average price per sq. ft for our homes. The Compulsory Purchase Order will result in us being dispossessed of our homes and permanently priced out of central London.
We will be exercising our right to object to the Order on the grounds that we are being dispossessed by proposals which are not in the public interest: the new development is proposing no social rented housing or renewable energy provision. It will see road traffic prioritised, the loss of over 300 trees and the creation of a private gated high-rise citadel.
The 1200 homes here on the Heygate were truly affordable to local people. The 2500 luxury new homes set to replace them will cost upwards of £500,000 to buy, and if there are any new ‘affordable’ homes provided then the most affordable of these will likely cost around £275 per week to rent.
This regeneration scheme was conceived on the premise of creating a more ‘mixed community’. In reality what we are seeing is state-sponsored segregation: the large-scale displacement of those on lower incomes by high earners and overseas buy-to-let investors. The new homes provided by the development will be available only to those who are wealthy enough to buy, or if there are any new ‘affordable’ homes on the site then they will only be available to those who qualify for full state housing benefits. This will create a far more segregated community and a poverty trap for those on benefits who will have difficulty finding employment which pays enough to cover the significantly higher rents.
The E&C is currently home to a number of stalled development schemes including the London Park Hotel and the Tribeca Square sites comprising around ten acres of what is currently wasteland. In its desperation to fulfil its manifesto pledge of getting something built on the Heygate site, the council’s administration has entirely disregarded the existing community and also its own commercial interests as landowner. It will be disposing of the Heygate site at a considerable loss to its balance sheet: the capital sums it is due to receive from the developer will not fully cover the costs it has incurred in decanting and demolishing the estate.
We would also like to point out that our right to object is a privilege that other residents on the estate were not given: tenants had no legal right to object at all – those who did object were evicted under the Landlord & Tenant Act and have long since been displaced to poorer parts of the Borough. A long-standing community has been destroyed.
We are not lone voices of discontent: our objections are being supported by a local residents group who have launched a campaign to object to the proposals and hold developer Lend Lease to council policy on a number of points including the minimum affordable housing requirement: www.35percent.org
More detailed background information about the regeneration scheme and its controversial proposals can be found on the 35% campaign website: www.35percent.org
Heygate Leaseholders Group
Council Is Boring on Heygate Again: Pointless Sealing Up of Walkways
Last week the Council contractors finished a week of totally pointless and presumably expensive activity on the Heygate Estate following their already vindictive and pointless attempts to remove the Heygate Community Gardens mural. A team of welders and sealer-uppers closed off the numerous walkways that people use to walk around, enjoy, have fun on, take pics from and leap off of in this as yet still piece of publicly-owned land. We have taken the pictures above from Alice C Macchi’s blog with thanks to her. As someone who enjoys running and leaping from walls on the estate, she points out in her piece that anyone who seeks to gain entry to estate for the wrong reasons will do so:
If you have a reason to be at the Heygate, putting up a barrier won’t deter you. If you have no reason to be there, it is likely that you will not be there anyway. These barriers are totally pointless. If anything they are more dangerous than safe. Usually a way in is also a way out. These barriers now block most exits and in case of danger or need there is no quick escape route. Why has council put these up before the entire estate is closed off is completely beyond me.
So these new barriers to the land are only really about slowly increasing the keeping out all the people who currently want to walk in sun and snow around the place, see the 450 trees and the mostly empty buildings, visit friends and picnic there, tend their vegetables and so on. All of those people who are never ever asked whether they actually want large welded barriers put in their way, the decision being made in some office entirely unaccountably (again).
We wonder at what level in the Council offices this waste of money and time was sanctioned? For all the agreement and head nodding it has done over the last two years with local people who have sought to get them to realise how great the open space and old buildings are for temporary community uses, the Council seems intent on actually thwarting all the amazing things people are doing in the estate for themselves as part of the desire to provide amazing things for all.
What is particularly pathetic is that the welding shut of the walkways comes only a fortnight after the highly successful and fun for local kids Release The Wolves event where they went tearing around the Heygate walkways in mad self-souped up customised Go Karts! And this was sanctioned by the Council in the first place! Not only was the event fun fun fun, the old grey pre-cast concrete slabs of Heygate were given a right going over with colourful paintings! Simple question: Would you prefer the Heygate to walled off for years and to stand as a big grey lump or would you prefer to keep it lively and colourful?
Here‘s a link to the new somewhat bonkers paintwork up in Heygate!