|Meeting6.30pm Wednesday 18 October
Globe House | Corner of Bermondsey Street & Crucifix Lane
On the agenda
St Thomas St Site Briefs and the Southwark Plan
Nominate your favourite local buildings
Following the introduction of the ‘Local List’ at the last forum meeting we now need to get some momentum from the Council with its development. A nomination form and a copy of the working list are both available from the OBF website:
Please take a moment to nominate some further local heritage assets and/or to help fill in the details for those which have already been identified. At the meeting we will discuss ongoing nominations and selection criteria. In response to our policy proposals to the Council last year they indicated support for the idea of a local list and we have now asked for clarification on how they see the Local List developing. They have been invited to attend this meeting but at the time of writing they have not responded.
Three weeks ago we submitted an application to extend the OBF Area. Our long-standing followers will be familiar with the history of the Forum’s Council-imposed area boundary but for the benefit of new subscribers to our mailing list (who may have signed up at the Bermondsey St Festival) we will review the argument for recovering the key parts of our originally proposed area. Cooperation from the Council permitting, we will update the group on the progress of the application.
St Thomas St site briefs
Closely related to the area extension application – and following up on our extensive consultation on the Council’s aspirations for St Thomas St (‘NSP53’) – we will be discussing the development of site briefs for the crucial St Thomas St sites. These will become the focus of intense developer interest once the Station is completed and Network Rail ceases its temporary use of the former car park site. This is now only about a year away and it is a safe bet that, on the quiet, the Council are already cosying up with prospective developers and looking to prepare the ground for high-rise schemes and the demolition of (our listed) Becket House and what should be the iconic Vinegar Yard warehouse.
How can we create a coherent imaginative working vision for the south side of St Thomas St? And how can we force the Council and prospective developers to have regard to local opinion on the treatment the key sites? From proposed uses to massing and architectural detailing, what should be the community brief that binds together and protects St Thomas’ Street, the Vinegar Warehouse, the Horseshoe Pub and the Melior St garden? A framework for a development of a working brief will be presented for discussion.
In dealing with specifics and representing real local knowledge and opinion OBF Site Briefs can offer what cash- and target-driven Council Area Visions cannot. What other sites in the neighbourhood would benefit from OBF site briefs? And crucially, how do we make the Council respect local opinion?
Here’s some salt for the wounds of those who supported BVAG since the challenge to Network Rail and the Council over the needless demolition of the London Bridge trainshed and the South Eastern Railway Offices on Tooley St. BVAG’s case was that the reason for the heritage carnage wreaked by the Grimshaw-designed station was the determination of Network Rail (and the DfT) to fund the low-budget scheme with the creation of a massive retail premises rent roll. Network Rail told the Administrative Court – right up to the Court of Appeal – that nothing of the sort was afoot and that there was to be absolutely no increase in retail space at the station as compared with its former incarnation. That blatant deceit complemented their claim that they had to build the station around the London Dungeon because they couldn’t touch the unassailable lease they said owners Merlin Entertainment had on tens of thousands of square feet of the viaduct. The latter deception was long ago exposed when, under the Freedom of Information Act, we got a copy of the expenses claim (redacted of the figures) they had long before made to the DfT for the buyout. Now they are getting close to being unable to continue to conceal the retail-rent driver of the heritage wipe-out here are their first public pronouncements that they took the Courts for a ride. In reality the Court of Appeal BVAG went before was just not interested in the evidence when they had a government department to protect; that Network Rail obviously couldn’t be lying was the only axiom they needed to support their decision (and costs order) against us.
There was a time when Court of Appeal Judges weren’t ready to protect the public sector establishment no matter what. Not any more.
Photographed in the emerging London Bridge shopping Mall
OBF meetingsare open to all – All welcome
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