Local campaigners are uniting to say ‘ENOUGH!’ Londoners are being surrounded by Towers of Mammon. High-rise blocks of offices, hotels and luxury apartments are creating a city for the rich. Working class communities are being destroyed by the cost and scarcity of housing as private developers are allowed to run amok by supine politicians. Diversity is being driven out by identikit corporate architecture. Nowhere is suffering this festival of greed more than east London. On the Bishopsgate Goodsyard massive skyscrapers will block out the sun and the hopes of local peop le for a future in their own backyard. Publicly owned land that should be used to provide the homes and jobs we need is being given away to big business. It’s the same story at the Olympic Park, at the Holland estate, the London Chest Hospital, Tobacco Dock and many other sites around the East End. We must fight to demand our place in our city!
- Build Council Homes
- Planning for People Not Profit
- Public Services on Public Land • Our communities are not for sale
Come and get involved in Stop the Blocks and help plan a better future for the East End. (download leaflet here)
Click images on this page to enlarge.
Royal London Hospital
The Royal London is the biggest hospital in Europe, costing £1.1bn to build, but thanks to the PFI agreement that funded it, will cost the taxpayer £7.1bn over 40-years. The repayment terms are so crippling the Royal London is currently running a £93m deficit, which explains why the lights on its top two floors are never lit – Barts can’t afford to fit them out and use them. Meanwhile staff shortages are pushing overworked doctors and nurses to walk out and waiting lists to increase. Innisfree and construction firm Skanska will continue to collect fat profits for another 35- years – unless the hospital goes bankrupt, which technically it already is. Then it would pass into their private hands.
Collingwood Estate / Sainsbury’s tower
Whitechapel Masterplan (above) was pushed through by the Council in 2013 with little public knowledge. Whitechapel Crossrail is central to the suburbanisation of the area. As part of the plans, Sainsbury’s wants to double the size of the store and build 600 new homes on its roof. with a 33 storey tower. While the area desperately needs more truly affordable housing, Sainsbury’s is offering a pathetic 10% despite the council’s target of 35%. No doubt it will say that’s all it can afford, but this simply doesn’t wash, as it owns the land. If the company wants to be a part of the community, it can start by not treating us with contempt.
In 2003 a residents’ campaign stopped a tower being built within Weavers Fields, which they said would damage the open public character of the park. ‘Drapers City Foyer’ housing was later provided in the converted C19 school on Weavers Fields.
no.w.here 316-318 Bethnal Green Road
For 10 years no.w.here has worked in Tower Hamlets as a community project, open artist platform and film laboratory built on the historical legacy of the London filmmakers co-operative. Run by cultural workers who place value on education, resistance, collaboration and free expression, no.w.here’s long standing work and projects are under extreme threat from the tide of property developers who only value one’s and zero’s. Vital in its community, no.w.here does not view displacement by billionaires or the destruction of communities as a natural evolution. Our campaign will officially launch in September. For Stop the Blocks, we invite you to visit no.w.here’s lab and community project space as we seek to exchange know how, experience, support and possibility | www.no-w-here.org.uk
Former Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children
On the developer’s hoardings, Bagel Lady brandishes a signifier of “east end authenticity” to her glossed lips, an idealised future tenant at Tower Hamlets’ Hackney border. Campaigns to save the old hospital failed: demolition has left one façade, one brick deep. Tower Hamlets’ near future is Hackney’s recent past: Haggerston estate, Tony’s café, Spirit’s shop, The Four Aces, Dalston Lane, all gone, though successful activism has reinvigorated some housing associations. Doubtless these areas needed help and change, but who benefits? Why must we buy, not rent? What is a true definition of “affordable”? How did flexibility and lower cost of living affect culture and community? Should we / can we preserve historic buildings and communities? Bagel lady is the true heir apparent in the wealthy investment-property-owning, culture-consuming / co-opting (not creating) monoculture of new east London. www.iamnotavillage.com
The Joiners Arms
The Joiners Arms opened as a queer pub in 1997 and swiftly established a reputation as a welcoming, diverse and at times hedonistic venue. The owners closed it in January 2015 and it remains shuttered and empty, awaiting unspecified development (strongly rumoured to involve demolition and a luxury apartment tower block). The Friends of the Joiners Arms is campaigning to re-open the venue – transforming it into London’s only cooperatively owned and managed LGBTQIA Community Centre, keeping the late-license pub at its heart. We have already won Asset of Community Value status (which gives us a chance to bid if the owners decide to sell) but the fight continues to demand that the Joiners Arms be given back to the queer community to run, providing space so desperately needed for life, love and liberty. www.save-the-joiners.tumblr.com
Arnold Circus and the Boundary Estate
The Boundary Estate is technically the first Council housing estate in England and Grade II listed. As well as being beautiful it was designed so that every flat would receive sunlight at 45 degrees to its windows: the spaces between blocks are generous and the rooms light. This contrasts with much of today’s high-density housing with its dark, single aspect apartments and poor standard of outside space. The Estate’s residents were behind the major improvements to the Circus.
The proposed development is a faceless mega-complex of luxury residential towers that will cast giant shadows over our community, stealing our light and giving nothing back to Shoreditch, Spitalfields and Brick Lane. Since 2002 the public has been excluded from the big plans for this public land, leased by Hammerson and Ballymore from owners Railtrack. Our mission is to regain control, to promote inspired and innovative development of the Goodsyard, with well-designed mid-rise buildings that offer liveable, affordable housing and small business workspace. Commercially viable, yet integrated with the surrounding neighbourhoods. www.morelightmorepower.co.uk
A giant wall of towers in Shoreditch. Many people are unaware that the southern tip of Hackney is the site of three more giant towers, two with planning permission. 1) 50 storey ‘Principal Place’ being built north of Liverpool St station next to the former Light Bar. 2) 40 storey residential skyscraper the ‘Bard Tower’ to be built on Curtain Road on the site of remains of Shakespeare’s first theatre. 3) 30 storey tower proposed by a large New York hotel chain at 201-207 Shoreditch High Street on the site of Majestic Wine and Chariot’s sauna (currently in planning: search application no. 2015/2403 in planning pages at www.hackney.gov.uk)
On 21 July Tower Hamlets’ planning committee unanimously refused permission for British Land to demolish 70% of buildings they hold in the Elder Street conservation area in Spitalfields primarily to build offices. The site is owned by the Corporation of London. Led by the Spi- talfields Trust, the campaign gained support London-wide and 500 people held hands around the buildings on 19 July to demand re-use not demolition. The result shows people-power in action. However, the battle for Norton Folgate is not over yet.
Spitafields Fruit and Wool Exchange
The Fruit & Wool Exchange was formerly home to 200 small businesses sorely lacking office space in the capital. Developers Exemplar are smashing it down including The Gun pub and the site will be used by a single international law firm. Mayor of London Boris Johnson forced this on Tower Hamlets after intervening to overrule the unanimous vote of the planning committee twice. He claimed it would “regenerate the area with thousands of new jobs and contribute to the wider economy of London”. Viewed from the steps of Christ Church the soulless building will deaden the landscape.
One, Commercial Street
One Commercial Street has been a focus of the ‘Poor Doors’ protests which highlight how new developments are built with two entrances, one for private owners, the other for the occupants of social or (so-called) affordable housing. Property agents famously reassure prospective buyers that their doors will not be shared by lesser mortals. In Stratford a development by Galliard was marketed as “fully private – no social housing”. (Galliard’s proposing 0% social housing on the West Ham Ground in Newham!
The Holland Estate
is an historic 1920’s brick-built estate in Spitalfields, London, E1. Our registered social landlord (EastEnd Homes) propose to demolish our homes and a thriving diverse community of over 600 people to make way for primarily private high-rise development. Residents do not want this. A petition signed by over 70% of residents, a motion passed by the resident-led estate management board and a unanimous motion passed by Tower Hamlets Council have all been against the demolition. But EastEnd Homes plough on with their demolition and redevelopment plans regardless. residents have decided to take things into our own hands to make it clear that redevelopment of these blocks is not what we want. Instead, we are campaigning for EastEnd Homes to refurbish our blocks, as they promised to do since they were given the estate by Tower Hamlets Council in 2006 — a promise they have repeatedly broken.
@BBCResidents | bbcresidents.wordpress.com
The London Chest Hospital
The London Chest Hospital opened in 1855 to treat tuberculosis sufferers amongst London’s poor. As well as gaining an international reputation for the treatment of heart and lung disease, the hospital has cared for servicemen exposed to poison gas in WW1 and air raid victims in WW2. In April 2015 Barts and The London NHS Trust shut the hospital, moved its services to St Bartholomew’s Hospital and put the site up for sale. The Trust is currently in negotiations with a buyer. No planning permission has been granted but the site has been earmarked as offering ‘significant potential for residential development.’ See the marketing brochure here www.essentia.uk.com . Tower Hamlets Green Party is launching a campaign to prevent this historic site becoming another soulless development of luxury homes. We want to ensure that whatever happens to the hospital, the site continues to be something that has the needs of the borough’s residents at the heart of it.
Bethnal Green Gas Holders
Soon nothing will stand near the canals and waterways to connect us with the East End’s industrial past, as luxury apartments gain hold. Tower Hamlets and English Heritage have refused to protect and list the historic No.2 and No.5 Gas holders designed with classical detailing by Joseph Clark in 1886 and 1889, giving this part of the canal its strong character. National Grid owns most of the UK’s Gas Holders. See East End Waterway Group newsletter www.residents-first.co.uk
The National Bargee Travellers Association
NBTA is a volunteer organisation. We campaign and provide support and advice for boat dwellers without permanent moorings. The boater population is increasing, in part caused by the housing crisis, as more people are forced to find survival alternatives. Despite having the money needed to provide sufficient facilities the Canal and River Trust (CART)is in some areas removing facilities and creating permanent moorings that are unaffordable to the majority. Our community is under threat as CART makes it more difficult to live on the water. Every year boat dwellers are unfairly evicted and their boats seized, including people that are disabled, elderly or ill. Please help us by supporting our campaign.
Cremer Street Studios
In May more than 130 artists in Cremer Street Studios were told by their studio provider ACAVA to sign a letter stating “I confirm my full support for the proposed redevelopment of the property” or be forced out of the building in months. Property developers Regal Homes have submitted a pre-planning application to Hackney Council to demolish all existing buildings on the site to make way for a mixed-use development – including a 20-storey tower block. Owners are D&J Simons of Hackney Road.
In 2002, campaigners warned that the Corporation of London’s demolition of half the market buildings to build offices was the start of an incremental creep into places that the Corporation began to call the ‘City Fringe’. Following the market’s redevelopment, shop rents rose sufficiently to sever its connection with the local commu- nity and developers Hammerson later sold it off, having got hold of the Bishopsgate Goodsyard lease. 35,000 people signed the petition opposing demolition of Spitalfields Market during the long campaign.
The George Tavern
The George Tavern is a public house and legendary art and music venue. The original tavern on the site was mentioned in the writing of Dickens, Pepys and Chaucer. The owner Pauline Forster has been shortlisted for the English Heritage Angel Award to recognise her incredible restoration of the building. Meanwhile, Tower Hamlets put The George at risk when it granted permission to familiar partners Swan Housing to build six flats next door. Save the George Tavern is mounting a legal challenge.
Chapman House, Bigland Street, Shadwell
After reporting dangerous conditions at the 19-apartment block in Shadwell he’s lived in for 25-years, Michael’s landlord tried to evict him, twice. After consulting a solicitor it transpired he was an assured tenant due to a little known law. His landlord responded by increasing his rent by 70% – presumably to force him out by alternative means. In a desperate bid to stay in his home Michael contacted the Rent Assessment Committee, who, after inspecting the dilapidated flat, ruled only a 0.4% increase was merited. The landlord, a charity that owns around 70 properties and pays no tax, faces a six-figure repair bill following council inspections. Michael now speaks out to encourage others to stand up to rogue landlords.
The Balfron Tower
Balfron Tower was built as council housing, designed by Erno Goldfinger in 1963 and made a Grade II listed building in 1996. It is now being sold off by Poplar Harca with current permanent residents moved out, forced to sell, and the famous block fetishised in a 1960’s-style marketing campaign. Social restructuring is devastating London’s working-class communities. At the Balfron, another layer of social division was added when artists renting emptied properties were co-opted to tacitly participate in the PR for the sell-off. That process has become known as ‘artwash’. 50percentbalfron.tumblr.com
Chrisp Street Market
Save Chrisp Street is campaigning to inform local residents and traders about the proposed regeneration of Chrisp Street Market in Poplar. The plans include ‘luxury’ housing and stores, at the expense of shops and accommodation affordable for local people. Traders will be booted out for the period of redevelopment, or longer – if they can’t afford the increased rents. At our regular information stall, traders have told us they have been left in the dark about the future of the Market. We intend to do our own consultation in parallel with Poplar HARCA’s, by going door to door asking people about what they would like to see for the area. So far many people have said they do want the market to be improved, but without it costing their ability to live there. Save Chrisp Street are working to make sure that the community has a proper voice to make this happen.
Robin Hood Gardens
Tower Hamlets failed to maintain this genuinely unique 1960’s estate and allowed Swan Housing to plan its demolition and a faceless new scheme called Blackwall Regeneration. Consultation with the residents was weighted in favour of that aim. An independent survey of residents found 80% of people wanted refurbishment, not demolition. The estate of 231 homes was built by Alison and Peter Smithson and notable present-day architects including Lord Rogers are asking for it to be listed.
Loss of Olympic Legacy Land
The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) now makes all the planning decisions inside this new Mayoral boundary, part of the four ‘legacy’ boroughs. The ex-Tower Hamlets land includes waterways and areas of industrial heritage in Fish Island near Hackney Wick, where affordable workspace and historic buildings are under threat. Very few people are aware that ‘Olympic Legacy’ planning decisions take place in LLDC offices in Stratford. Developers were allowed to stake out their territory early on in the Olympic process and the LLDC is allowing pitifully low levels of affordable housing in the new developments.
See East End Waterway Group newsletter www.residents-first.co.uk and all recent newsletters here
Tower Hamlets Council Mulberry Place, E14 2BG. The council headquarters is situated away from most residents, on the very edge of the borough. From here it administers £1.2 billion annually. Population is 263,000. Directly elected Mayor: John Biggs (Labour). Planning committees Chair: Cllr Marc Francis. Long-time head of planning: Owen Whalley. For over 10 years Tower Hamlets has had the highest house-building target of all the London boroughs (see below). City Hall The London Mayor’s powers allow him to intervene in borough planning with little democratic oversight. His decisions are meant to be governed by policies in The London Plan. City Hall deals Tower Hamlets by far the highest house-building target in London, currently 9.5% of all London’s housing – yet Tower Hamlets occupies only 8 square miles of London’s 609 square miles