Raising public awareness and providing a platform for debate about the extraordinary proposal to build ultra-high-rise tower blocks on Bermondsey Street at the corner with Snowsfields/St Thomas Street.
Southwark Council has been busy talking to Irvine Sellar, developer of The Shard, about how he can make back some of the money he is expected to lose on the very expensive ego trip that is The Shard. It produced a supremely audacious plan that was given a secretive airing to selected locals in December of 2008. This involved the astonishing proposal to bring three towers – from which residents could ‘see the English Channel’ to the conservation area focused on the medieval Bermondsey Street.
To facilitate the Sellar scheme – that they obviously realized was incendiary – Southwark Council have employed the device of zoning the improbable site for ultra-high rise buildings. The instrument of choice is a local development plan (SPD) for the area they call Bankside, Borough and London Bridge that requires minimal consultation (although perhaps not as minimal as theirs has been). This can be used to pre-empt predictable objections and present local people with a fait accompli. The strategy is not complicated: Make sure nobody knows what is going on and nobody objects. Once people next door get to know of the plan to build 50 floors outside their bedroom window – where they are the subject of quite different statutory consultation – they are told they can object to the colour of the building but not the height – which is adopted policy. Had they wished to challenge the height, they will be told, they had to do so long ago when the SPD – about which they knew nothing – was in consultation. Simple but effective.
The immediate task
To force Southwark Council to engage in a genuine consultation process over highly controversial plans that they have pushed along on the sly. Only a negligible number of in-the-know local people had any idea what was afoot until we undertook the very consultation process that was Southwark Council’s legal and democratic obligation. This was of course no coincidence – they didn’t want you to know.
That they were trying to slip under the radar has been made abundantly clear by their response once they were rumbled. They manipulated their consultation rules to enable them to discard 90% of the objections they received and tried to stop us telling you what they were doing with a threatened injunction.
The story is told here: