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Borough Road tower block

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Saturday 17 April 2004 5.07pm
All hands to the pump required. Developers are going mad and planning loads of tower blocks in areas in SE1. If anybody lives in or near Borough Road, there is a fifteen storey block of flats planned to be built, which is totally out of everything to do with what the street stands for and has always been. The application ref with Southwark Planning is 04-AP-0390, so if any of you out there are against this, please get your objections in. There are a few groups opposing this - one of these is the St Georges Circus Group, which is a conservation group and they have already done a marvellous job in opposing this, but more hands are required nearer to the development area.

This does not directly affect either us or the St Georges Circus Group, but we are proud and passionate about our area and all who feel the same should unite and fight.

Please feel free to contact me - I have information given to me by the St Georges Circus Group - you can also access the application details on the London Borough of Southwark Web Site.

Let's stop these people trying to turn our area into a New York style city with no sky in sight.

for myself and Blackfriars Community Action Group
feel free to email me at jenny_marquis(at)

[edited by JH to remove capital letters in thread title and change Borough High Street reference to Borough Road]
Saturday 17 April 2004 5.26pm
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Saturday 17 April 2004 7.48pm
Borough Road was the first place I lived when I first moved to London I don't think the house I lived in is still there it was opposite the polytechnic of central London

When Ken livingeton was interviewed on the Jon gount show he said a 10-15 story building built in the suburbs can look like a monstrosity ,but its acceptable in central london,he doesn't seem to have noticed that much of central London is on much the same scale as the suberbes,much of southwark actually feels like a village.

I think what he meant was that there are more middle class people likely to complain in the suburbs and most of his decisions seem to be dictated by re election .

It also seems that southwark has a higher than normal proportion of controversial planing proposals.

I cant help thinking that it just gets treated like north London's door mat.
Saturday 17 April 2004 8.30pm
Its worth recognising that developers are doing what they usually do - satisfying demand. If the demand wasn't there then developers wouldn't build.

Its also worth recognising that current developments are being undertaken at a time when height is no longer restricted by either policy or building methods.

I do wonder why there is such a prejudice against anything that is seen as being "too high". I live in the inner city because I don't want to live in tree lined, detached (in every sense) suburbia. Living in the inner city means density and density (if we want lots of green space) means height.

If you refer back to the historic maps of Southwark (1894 for example) the building density is far higher than it is today. In 1900 Southwark's population was around 600,000 whereas today its around 245,000. The Southwark of 1900 was covered over with acres of unhealthy back-to-backs or two up-one downs. Compared to that, todays highrise efforts don't seem too bad.

Niall Connolly
Saturday 17 April 2004 11.17pm
You could build a block of flats on top of mount snowden ,and Ben Nevis ,and around every lock in Scotland and every lake in the lake district and people would buy them that wouldn't mean the demand was justifying the developments.

Post edited (18 Apr 04 10:41)
Sunday 18 April 2004 1.57pm
Well said Michael. Demand by those with money must be balanced against some protection of what is good or desirable for all of us - thats part of the function of the planning process.

Niall - as I understand it, inspite of the recent encouragements to build high in this area, it is not correct to say that there is no restriction in policy. Tall buildings still have to satisfy the planners that they are in keeping with their surroundings, they do not cause an unjustified amount of overshadowing and overlooking, and that they have good design.

Also, please dont think the protests against tall buildings are based on 'prejudice'. There may be some prejudice around, but please remember that, unlike you, many of the people here did not choose to live here, or would find it difficult to move out for all sorts of reasons. Families have lived here for generations and their needs are just as important as those of the newcomers. If all the new tower blocks freed up lots of new green space around them as you are implying, and as Le Corbusier, the visionary of the tower block, imagined, then things would be much better. As it is, the density is ever-increasing with little or no corresponding increase in open space, schools, doctors and dentists, affordable shopping, affordable leisure and sport facilities, community facilities etc etc.

I believe it IS possible to have a good quality urban environment with high density but with some protection for all the things I have mentioned above. But that is not what is happenning here - we are hurtling towards an exciting dense urban area which is a fantastic location for some, but which the majority will find has lost its sky, its quiet, its community and its affordable facilities. This majority includes many of the long-standing population who often dont have many options for moving out, and anyway why should they have to.
Sunday 18 April 2004 8.26pm
I wonder where Niall works - is he one of those developers himself - does he live in a penthouse apartment where his sunlight and daylight are not affected. There is absolutely no prejudice whatsoever against tall buildings as long as they are in places where there are no objections and they don't affect peoples' amenities.

I feel passionately about this, because I personally, have been opposing developers on one plot for over two years - I stuck to my guns and won every step of the way - so, obviously, I am not alone in my beliefs - even up to the Planning Inspectorate level.

I wonder if Niall has read any of the St Georges Circus Group's reasons for opposition, or if he has seen any of mine.

Niall, sorry luv, but you are living in cloud cuckoo land - I would love to be the one to show you reality. Developers are only out to line their pockets and if they can get away with building a 15 storey block, then good luck to them - but these people have to realise that there are other people to consider - other communities, regardless of their income or their backgrounds. Personally, if I feel there is a fight necessary to preserve people's amenities, then I will be there, right in the ring, willing to fight for what I believe in, whether they think they are heavyweights or not....
Monday 19 April 2004 12.02am

Sadly we live in a free-market. If you reduce the density, prices will rise. (Thanks to Mrs Thatcher, the right-to-buy process has taken some 1.2million local authority homes out of local authority control, reducing the availability of 'controlled rent' properties. This has been a factor in driving retail prices upwards.) I see high-density developments as one way of delivering affordability.

As I understand planning legislation, inherent in that legislation is a presumption in favour of development. Without that presumption society would stagnate.

The issues of a development being 'in keeping with its surroundings' is, in my own view, very much a matter of opinion, unless you were considering building a 16 storey block in Trinity Church Sq. Heights in the inner city vary and Southwark may only have stayed low-rise (excepting the Aylesbury) because, until relatively recently, it was not considered as an attractive area for any sort of development. What constitutes good design is also open to question and whilst I might find the Time & Talents building (Bermondsey St) attractive, I also find Erno Goldfinger's Westway Tower block equally attractive in its own way.

The matter of 'overlooking' and 'overshadowing' is also dealt with quite specifically with regard to 'rights to light'. 'Rights to light' do not protect a horizontal view from a window but protect access to an arc of sky which I believe is generally a line 27degrees from the vertical rising upward from any window opening.

On your more general points about those you describe as being disenfranchised, I simply cannot comment because I can only speak for myself.

What I know from experience is that Bermondsey St was, in 1985, a wasteland. Dereliction was the norm and it was a thoroughly depressing place. Since then there have been two waves of development - the 1987/1990 period when the focus was on office developments and the current wave which started in 1994 and continues to this day and whose focus is residential. In my opinion there aren't many really good buildings coming from this current wave of development but what I can say is that Bermondsey St is a busier and more interesting street as a result. The local open spaces are also benefiting from substantial investment and I count myself lucky to live in an area so well served with such amenities.

Yes, prices have risen but they couldn't have gone anywhere else looking at where they were in 1993. Again, that is a function of the free-market and, whilst you may not like it, it is a fact.

I'm sure that you'll already have done the course but, on the off-chance that you haven't, check out the Willowbrook Centre. They may have something to offer you.

Regards and goodwill to all.

Niall Connolly
Monday 19 April 2004 9.26am
It is the amount of development in SE1 that is the problem, not any particular block. The whole area is in danger of being overwhelmingly a district of one and two bedroom flats and this is not going to result in a balanced sustainable community. Waves of development pressure for short term gain have to be resisted because in the long term they can destroy the benefits they originally exploited. The original high rise building programme was never intended to create the miserable slums it succeded in producing, but it did it in part because of its concentration of disconnected and unbalanced unified developments. There is very strong development pressure in the area, unless this is focussed on what we, who live here, believe is right, then a rare opportunity to enhance the area will be lost - and once built a development influences an area for ever in one form or another.
Monday 19 April 2004 9.40am
Where on Borough Road is this new development to be? It looks like it's up the University end but what is to be demolished? I don't really see how a 15 story building on Borough Road would be a blight. What would it be blighting? Secondly, from the planning application I see that there is to be provision of flats for NHS keyworkers and other affordable housing. Don't we need that? Isn't this a good thing?

It is probably my usual knee-jerk prejudice to react against this kind of development though it's probably mostly because of the idiot marketing strategies and the fact that so many of them are not very good. But shouldn't they all be judged on their individual merits? Do we know what this new development is going to look like? It just feels like jumping the gun a bit to say no at this point.

stick yer frothy lager.......
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