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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Great Design Should Be Obvious To A Blind Man

Although I must confess to a temporary bout of insanity due to my hatred for TfL at the time (and my wife's chastisement), I have for the most part always supported the excellent proposals for Dalston re-development, especially after I recognised the full extent of the role of Trotskyites, Tories and LibDems in opposing the plans and even more so now that I have become one of Ken Livingstone's leading supporters.
A good case for abolition of the upper house
Everyone with half a brain knows that Dalston is a rotten, run-down area full of peasants scrabbling about in £1 shops, take-away burger bars and tatty street markets and is in urgent need of redevelopment.

What could be better for the area than a pair of 19-storey architectural masterpieces - the Julian Pipe Memorial Erection and the Herbert Morrison Trades Union History Centre - towering over Dalston as an example of what voting New Labour can do for you?

As I've argued many times, the proposed developments will encourage wealthy young people typical of today's modern Labour Party to move into the area, while encouraging the riff-raff to get on their stolen bikes and decant to somewhere more suitable, such as Thurrock or Belgium.

So I was disgusted to read the shocking comments made in The House Of Lords on Thursday by cross-bencher Lord Low of Dalston - a man who should know better:

"In my maiden speech, I hinted at the baleful influence of the planning policies of the London Borough of Hackney on the lives of the residents of Dalston, where I live. The protocol surrounding maiden speeches precluded my going into greater detail on that occasion, but today I am under no such constraint. If I may, therefore, I shall describe for your Lordships our experience in Dalston, as I believe that it throws into sharp relief much of what is wrong with development today and what accordingly needs to be put right... When we heard that Dalston was to be regenerated, we had high hopes that this derelict, neglected and overcrowded area of east London would rise as a modern phoenix. We anticipated that our few remaining historic buildings would be given a new lease of life and inform the proposed development around them. How naive we were... A massively expensive concrete slab over the railway will accommodate an unnecessary and potentially dangerous bus stand, where current routes will be cut short... A brutal phalanx of tower blocks of up to 20 storeys will be erected on the slab to help to pay for it. These will blight the environment and bring no benefit to the area. Of their 300-odd dwellings, none is to be affordable... The adjoining site is being developed by the London Development Agency. It has similar disadvantages; moreover, it is aesthetically and architecturally unrelated to its neighbour. Together, they represent the worst type of unimaginative and destructive town planning. No more health and other services are to be provided for the total of 550 extra households. Such high density, in an already overcrowded and underresourced area, completely ignores the potential for alienation, anti-social behaviour and vandalism, as we have heard. As a criminologist, I know that this is not the way to build a housing estate... How has the travesty that I have described come about? Three reasons immediately come to mind. The first is a poor understanding of what constitutes good architecture and design on the part of town planners and developers... Secondly, consultation with the public was, to say the least, inadequate, even misleading... Thirdly, in direct contravention of planning guidance, these schemes have not preserved heritage buildings or enhanced the cityscape that remains. They meet neither of the mayor’s much vaunted criteria that new housing should be built to the highest architectural standards and that it should be 50 per cent affordable. The council has waived social housing requirements and parking and space standards... Why should all this be? The answer lies partly in the need to meet external and undisclosed financial imperatives out of a misplaced fear that developers would otherwise walk away, partly in developers’ ability to hoodwink poorly qualified planning officers into accepting substandard designs and partly in the ability of multiple authorities in central and local government to evade responsibility with a cynicism bordering on the corrupt. In a country of historically renowned architects and with present-day architects who are changing the face of the world, surely we can do better in our own backyard."

"A cynicism bordering on the corrupt"! What can this man be talking about? If he can't see the massive benefits that our Council is bringing to Hackney - albeit with a bit of unavoidable pain in the process - he must be completely blind.


Darren Parker said...

Oh come now Luke, give credit where credit is due. Granted I sneaked in two votes so we could slide this development through but it was you who so successfully stage-managed the whole affair (particularly by appointing me as chair, despite my having some pretty serious conflict of interest).

The result? I got away with three months "rest" (tee hee) and we'll all benefit from some rather neat recreational property in Iberia in the near future. Canny, eh?

If we can get away with Clissold Leisure Centre scot-free, I am sure we can get away with Pipe Towers without a public enquiry.

Talking of scot-free, any chance of us digging up the pavement in Graham Road and giving that nasty Scot, Lord Low of Dalston, a few sleepless nights?

Luke Akehurst said...

For God's sake, Darren, don't discuss all this out in the open. If you're upset about delays to the Cómpeta apartment you can always borrow mine until they deliver the keys to yours.

Clear Hardly said...

Luke - although Lord Low, President of the RNIB, is blind I am very concerned that he seems to have a rather highly developed sense of smell.

Luke Akehurst said...

Blimey! President of the RNIB. I didn't know that.

Marmaduke Tyssen said...

Julian Pipe Memorial Erection love it Ha Ha!!!!!