Blackfriars Action for Responsible Development (BARD)
It was the ‘extraordinary arrogance‘ of Linden Homes representatives who came to the Blackfriars Rd community that was described as ‘the straw that broke the camels back‘ by a BARD member recently. Linden Homes is proposing two scheme options for the site of St George’s Mansions, the shops below and the next door pub Imbibe. Scheme One, their ‘preferred‘ option is a massive 27-ish storey tower block. Option Two, i.e the dead horse option, is a less tall tower (15 floors) with less public realm stuff (some cleaned pavements, some trees etc). The whole scheme has been wonderfully named Blackfriars Rd Central. Ho ho!
BARD, which is made up of a number of local folks, tenants groups and amenity groups called a small community demonstration on December 2nd 2012 and about 50 people came along to chat, listen to some good words and thoughts, hear a song and share cakes and drinks. It was a great hour well spent with some rousing notions and intentions to not let developers come to any area and start dictating what goes where with no consideration for long term residents nor any sense of what the community is, does and why.
Quotes from the BARD member’s speech at the community demo:
“What we are saying in the this demonstration today is that we have had enough. That local people have had enough…the only thing that will stop them is us. There is nothing else, there is us. We are what will stop them……Local people don’t earn enough to live here anymore and what they will do is drive us all out because this land is worth billions. We either have to get together, to work hard, we have to act in solidarity with each others struggles, not have a struggle against this and a struggle against that but a struggle to make this a community that is meaningful, that people want to live in‘.
At Southwark Notes, we have been clear for a long time now that the regeneration of The Elephant area cannot be separated out from any development of Bankside, Aylesbury Estate, Bermondsey etc. Each place has a knock on effect on the other site especially if certain areas are being earmarked out for zero social housing and maximum luxury apartments. That’s just not right.
We welcome BARD and it’s fantastic starting demo and it’s intuition that we are all one fight against crazy land speculation and overpriced developments that offers little or nothing to existing communities. At the Elephant we have a lot of experience of the regeneration agenda and its accompanying spin and hype and empty promises. We hope we can add some insights into their already insightful campaign. Best of luck to BARD.
BARD is meeting regularly, check their blog for details. You can sign the BARD Online petition here
PIE IN THE SKY vs BLUE SKIES: IT’S ALL THE SAME!
An excellent piece was subsequently posted on the In SE1 News blog which covered both the demo and reports that the Council had been having ‘secret meetings‘ with Blackfriars developers (of which there are numerous – see our handy map above) who have constituted themselves as the Blackfriars Road Landowners’ Forum. Cllr Peter John described the meetings purely as ‘blue sky thinking‘. We leave you to figure the substance of such blue sky thinking (creative ideas that are not limited by current thinking or beliefs) in regard to local people and shops.
Developments in the Blackfriars Rd and Southwark St area have already been subject to much criticism whereby large developers are let off both the London Plan and Southwark Council policy of factoring in affordable housing to create mixed tenure schemes. Instead big developments such as NeoBankside, One Blackfriars Rd and the forthcoming Kings’ Reach tower have been able to buy their way out of this with the promise from the Council that the $$$ will be used to build affordable housing somewhere else in the borough i.e not by the Thames. Questionable is the notion that a) the riverside should be given over to the creation of a rich person’s ghetto (contrary to any notion of building mixed communities, b) that existing residents shops and services will not be able to afford any increase in rent from the upscaling of the area.
EGG & CHIPS FOR ALL!!
The Linden Homes Blackfriars Rd development has said that the working mens’ caff and the dry cleaners that it will demolish will have a place in the new development. We cynics at Southwark Notes wonder whereabouts a working men’s caff will fit into a 27 storey tower of overpriced luxurious apartments. Maybe it can occupy a place at the top in a special Egg and Chips Public Terrace!
EGG & CHIPS FOR NO-ONE!! – Updated for You From 2012 to 2019
2012: The original Blackfriars Cafe for working people
2014: Cafe demolished for Linden Homes development
2018: Caco and Co Portuguese Street Food cafe
2019: Portugal cafe
Barratt Homes have bought both Erlang House and Hill House at the St George’s Circus end of Blackfriars Road. They are planning 400 flats on the site, in a mix of affordable and open market properties. UPDATE: The development comprises 336 apartments. A collection of five buildings varies in height from 5 to 27-storey. The development comprises of studios, one, two and three-bedroom apartments and penthouses, all built around two new public squares. Starting Price: £595,000!! Tons of overseas marketing for this new build puppy, of course!
Now this has been built:
- 1 Beds Rental From £550 per week (£2,383 per month)
- 2 Beds Rental From £650 per week (£2,817 per month)
- 3 Beds Rental From £800 per week (£3,467 per month)
One Bed flat at Blackfriars Circus – £750,00 – November 2019. Check out here the total shit show that Barratts and Southwark Council performed over the ‘affordable housing’ on site. A mockery! – ‘The development was able to convince Southwark council to waiver the tenure requirements of its 35% affordable housing Policy. These would have secured a minimum 70 social rented homes in the development, but Barratt submitted a viability assessment claiming it would only be viable to provide 8 social rented homes, 48 affordable rent and 35 shared ownership.
The officer’s report explains that the council had the viability assessment appraised by the ‘Borough Valuer’ and that “Whilst a number of inputs into the valuation have been agreed (including commercial values, ground rents, and professional fees) an agreement has not been reached on two fundamental matters: methodology of calculating the benchmark value of the site; and residential sale values. As such, the applicant and the Borough Valuer have not reached an agreed position about how much affordable housing can be delivered on site.” (para. 109)
Despite the disagreement over viability figures, the planning application was waved through without any viability review and clawback mechanism. Demolition works started on the site in 2014 and the site is due for completion in spring 2017. In September 2015, it was reported that the council is planning to buy the 8 social and 48 affordable rented homes from Barratt, in order to turn them into new ‘council homes’. The price it agreed to pay for the 56 units is £10m. This seems like a high price tag for homes sold with an affordable housing covenant, given that Land Registry deeds show that Barratt sold the 35 shared ownership units for £8m. The absurdity of buying homes from developers to convert to social rent when they should have been social rent anyway, is plain for all to see‘.
• 20 BLACKFRIARS RD: A short history of speculation (2003 – 2019)
2003: Land Securities buy most of site – £38 million and acquired the rest in small deals
2007: Circleplane buy the entire site £90 million
2014: Black Pearl buy for £114 million
2019: Hero Inc. Ltd, Staycity Ltd & BSW Land & Property buy for £235 million.