Site Plan and Ownership – click on image to enlarge

This simulation is produced in photoshop using a view of Bermondsey Street from outside the Fashion and Textile Museum and separate images of Centrepoint.  Contary to what Southwark Council have been telling objectors, it corresponds closely with Sellar’s proposal, as can be seen from the picture below of their own model.







The picture was taken by Harley Gray on his phone at Sellar’s proposal meeting in December 2008.  Harley was stopped from taking any more by Sellar’s representatives.





TestThe Times created this image in February 2008 of how the ’3 Houses’ may look (click to enlarge)




For your convenience, download the objection letters here:

Letter to Simon Bevan, Head of Planning at Southwark Council calling for proper consultation.

Letter to Simon Bevan

Letter to Peter John (Labour) the new Leader of Southwark Council asking for his position on high rise development and calling for adequate local consultation.

Letter to Peter John

Letter to Peter John asking for the details of the consultation extension as per his statement in Southwark News


What will be lost

View of warehouse taken from St Thomas Street with a film crew in situ.

View of the warehouse from Vinegar Yard.

From: Russell Gray
Date: 22 April 2010 12:08:48 GMT+01:00
To: “Rechtman, Felix”


Thank you for your email.   My copyright expert is familiar with the law of passing off.  I am told that your email suggests that you personally have little experience or knowledge of intellectual property law.  May I suggest you take specialist advice.

The reason why my last email did not address the issue of passing off was because I understood from your previous emails that this issue had been resolved to your satisfaction.  In particular you accepted that there could be little or no confusion provided that the leaflet was simultaneously displayed with the letter from the council.   I have not suggested to you that I will not continue to do so.   Therefore, you can have no realistic hope of getting an interim injunction in relation to such matters.   In which case your continued threats to seek such an injunction either portray an ignorance of the law or alternatively are a naked attempt at trying to bully a campaigner whose views you find objectionable.

As to damages, again if you were aware of the law in this area, there are very limited circumstances in which a business can obtain damages for lost time.   The suggestion that a court would award such damages in respect of the time of counsel employees is wholly unrealistic.  It again suggests an ignorance of the law or a knowing attempt to bully a member of the public.

Next, again as is apparent to anyone who knows the most basic provisions of copyright law, mere use of logo does not provide ownership of any copyright in the same.   You could have used it for 30 years and this still does not mean you own it.   I note that you have refused despite my request to substantiate your claim to ownership in this case.    Unless and until you do so, I will assume that the council is incapable of doing so.    I would add that the fact that you cannot do so is disturbing.   It suggests that your initial letter to me threatening an interim injunction was sent without any proper investigation of the rights held by the council.   It is disturbing that the council considered it proper to behave in this manner and raises serious questions as to the council’s true motivations for pursuing this matter.

As to your comments on section 171(3) they confuse the issue of copyright and passing off.    As you are already aware the issue of confusion has already been dealt with.  Therefore, I note your confidence, but given the basic ignorance of intellectual property law displayed in your correspondence, I would suggest that this  confidence is misplaced.


Russell Gray

From: Rechtman, Felix
Date: 21 Apr 2010, at 15:25 BST
To: Russell Gray

Dear Sirs,

We refer to the above matter and your email dated 20th April 2010 received at 8.43pm.

Firstly, we are pleased to note that you have sought legal advice from a copyright expert although we note that in your email you fail to deal completely with the tort of passing off.  Presumably your copyright expert was unable or unwilling to deal with that area of law.

As far as the tort of passing off is concerned, a cause of action for passing off is a form of intellectual property enforcement against the unauthorised use of a mark which is considered to be similar to another party’s registered or unregistered mark.  Further, the law of passing off is designed to prevent misrepresentation to the public and is aimed to prevent a situation in which one party does something so that the public is misled into thinking the activity is associated with another party.  In this case the poster that you have put up clearly displayed the Southwark logo at the bottom without any identification that these posters had been produced by your Company, Shiva Ltd.  Therefore it is clear that members of the public had been misled into thinking that the said posters are associated with Southwark Council.  We have sufficient evidence by way of emails from members of the public showing that a number of members of the public had been misled into thinking that the said posters were produced by Southwark Council when in fact they were not.  We therefore have a clear case for an Injunction as against your Company should you continue misleading the public as per above.

As far as damages are concerned, the Council has suffered loss and damages in wasted officers’ time in dealing with members of the public who have been misled and misinformed by the said posters.

As far as copyright is concerned, the Southwark Council logo had been used exclusively by the Council since the late 90’s for more than 10 years now and is well established as the Council’s official logo. We are confident that any Court of law will find that this is so.

As far as Section 171(3) of the Copyright Design and Patterns Act 1998 is concerned, with respect, it is simply absurd to argue that public interest would be served by misleading the public.  Clearly the defence of a public interest in the Act is not aimed to misleading the public but is aimed to maintain freedom of expression.  With respect the use of Southwark Council logos on your posters is not freedom of expression nor is it in the public interest to mislead members of the public into thinking that these posters were produced by the Council. We therefore deny that the said defence of public interest will apply in this case and we are confident that any court of law will agree with our view in that respect.

In the circumstances, in view of the above, we repeat that should you choose to ignore this email as well as our letter dated 15th April 2010 and proceed to remove the duct tape from the posters and reveal the Southwark Council logo and thereby continue misleading the public, we reserve the right to proceed for an Injunction as against your Company without further notice.  In such circumstances we will seek all legal costs as against your Company as well as damages.

For the avoidance of any doubt, it is not the Council’s aim to prevent you from expressing your views in public or otherwise nor wish to prevent you from seeking to persuade others to support your view as long as you do so without seeking to mislead or misinform members of the public.

Yours faithfully

Felix Rechtman
Senior Lawyer- Communities, Law & Governance
Southwark Council

From: Russell Gray
Date: 20 April 2010 20:43:18 BST
To: Felix Rechtman
Cc: Simon Bevan, Michael Carnuccio


Since my last email I have taken advice from  copyright expert in relation to the your letter of 15 April 2010.   I have been informed that it is normal practice when sending a letter  before action claiming copyright infringement to explain why it is that the entity claiming infringement owns the copyright in question.    I note that in your letter of 15 April 2010 you fail to do so.

Further, I am told that the circumstances of this case are unusual.  In particular, the public interest factors in this case raise an issue as to whether section 171(3) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as interpreted in light of the subsequent provisions of the Human Rights Act 1988) are engaged so as to provide a complete defence to copyright infringement in any event.   This is particularly so given the fact that the Council can have suffered no loss as a consequence of my actions.

In your letter of 15 April 2010 you required my response by 9am on 16 April 2010.  You therefore clearly believe that the issues in this case  can and should be dealt with by the parties on very short notice.  In the circumstances, I require you to respond by no later than 6pm on 21 April 2010 explaining:

(a)    why as a matter of fact and law the Council is the owner of the relevant copyright; and
(b)     why it is that section 171 (3) of the CDPA does not apply.

In the case of (a) above, you should identify the date of the creation of the logo and if you rely on the work of an employee of the council, the employee should be identified.  If you instead rely upon the terms of a contract with a contractor, a copy of that contract should be provided.  Given your initial threats of injunction you no doubt already have that information to hand.

In the absence of an adequate explanation in relation to these issues by the deadline imposed by this email, I  will proceed to remove the duct tape currently obscuring the Southwark logo from the poster presently on display at Globe House on Bermondsey Street and Crucifix Lane.

I also reserve the right, should I consider it appropriate, without further notice to you, to commence proceedings against the Council seeking a declaration of non-infringement.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Russell Gray

From: Rechtman, Felix
Date: 19 April 2010 10:00:18 BST
To: Russell Gray

Dear Sirs?

We refer to the above matter and our letter dated 15 April 2010.?

We have now inspected the Global House area and note that you have blocked out the Southwark Council logo on all the offending posters.?

The posters themselves are still misleading but as you have put up next to all the posters a copy of our letter before action this will minimise confusion among members of the public. Therefore as long as the said posters remain up so should our letter before claim.

In view of the above we shall continue to monitor the situation and will revert to you should further infringement occur and in the meantime reserve the right to seek damages for past and future copyright infringement and passing off.?

We also reserve the right to take action as against the company for breach of the Advertisement Regulations or any other legislation.

Yours faithfully

Felix Rechtman
Senior Lawyer- Communities, Law & Governance
Southwark Council
From: Russell Gray
Date: 16 April 2010 09:43:36 BST
To: Rechtman, Felix

I shall address my correspondence to whoever I consider appropriate.  Obviously the culture of secrecy prevailing over Southwark’s decision making process – and especially its collaboration with Sellar’s off-shore companies – sometimes makes this a difficult decision.

Meanwhile, I hereby repeat my invitation to attend Globe House so that I can explain how your objections are being met and to ensure you are entirely satisfied.  It is unfortunate that you declined this invitation on the telephone a short while ago.  It invites the suspicion that you might be more interested in stifling consultation on the SPD than anything else.

Russell Gray

From: Rechtman, Felix
Date: 16 April 2010 09:06:34 BST
To: Liz Ruffell, Russell Gray

Dear Sirs

We refer to the above matter and your email below addressed to Mr Bevan.

As the issue of the unauthorised use of Southwark’s logo is now being
dealt with by Legal Services, please address all future correspondence
in relation to this matter accordingly to me and not to Mr Bevan or any
other planning officer.

We will inspect the posters at Global House and other buildings later on
this morning and will write to you thereafter.

Kind regards

Felix Rechtman
Senior Lawyer- Communities, Law & Governance
Southwark Council

From: Liz Ruffell
Sent: 15 April 2010 17:59
To: Bevan, Simon
Cc: Gray Russell
Subject: Invitation

Dear Simon,

Following your legal threats regarding passing off and breach of
copyright, you are invited to attend the Globe House notice board to
advise us if you are satisfied with the amendments we have made – and
possibly to meet the press at 9am on Friday 16 April.


Liz Ruffell

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In December of 2008 Sellar unveiled their preliminary proposals for redevelopment of the junction of Bermondsey Street, St Thomas Street and Snowsfields.  The preview was for a selected group of locals and luminaries.  I don’t know what persuaded them to invite me but they probably resolved quickly to leave me off the invitation list thereafter.

The meeting was held in the former S C Hall leather warehouse in Snowsfields – well known to me as I had regularly bought upholstery leather there over many years.  The building had been sold to Sellar in July of that year for £6.75m.  It is a typical Victorian Warehouse of the type that dominated the surrounding streets until perhaps 30 years ago but with heavier floor construction than most – presumably because it once stored vinegar casks.

The centerpiece of the show was a large model of the proposed development and a fair amount of the surrounding area that I recall being rather inaccurate.  I suppose if you model on a scale that takes in more of the suroundings, big towers don’t look so big – but the model maker gets a bit bored at the irrelevance of buildings at some distance from the proposal.

One of Sellar’s string puppets had the unenviable job of presenting these plans of extraordinary incongruity to the assembled group.  The hyperbole was something to behold.  We were told that the Sellar masterplan included rebuilding the Guys Hospital Tower as well as the school in Snowsfields (which is an attractive Victorian ‘Board School’ building).  The names of Hertzog and De Meuron, the appointed architects were dropped at every opportunity.  That firm was riding high on the ‘Birds Nest Stadium’ fame they achieved at the Beijing Olympics only a few months before.  And Sellar’s man was talking as if Beijing Olyimpic budgets were theirs for the asking.

Of such advanced technology were the proposed towers, we were told, that they had only become possible within the past couple of years.  Asked by me to explain this, the puppet fumbled something about computers.  Invited to explain whether he was trying to claim that computers simply did not have the shear processing power to handle the calculations involved until recently he confirmed with some relief that this was his point.  At the other end of the technology scale, I asked about a wind-tunnel study of the proposal.  He responded by accepting that this was a recognized problem but theirs was an ingeniously simple solution – plant a tree in the wind corridor.  He was also so wittering on about hydraulic shock absorption in the buildings.  Needless to say, my request for clarification of this technological wonder produced almost complete collapse of the poor man in a suit. Even I was starting to feel sorry for him and let him off with an agreement to email me the details of all the technical wizardry that he obviously didn’t understand. (Needless to say, it never came – although I got a ‘thank you for coming email’)  By this point James Sellar obviously started to feel for his puppet’s embarrassment and sidled over to try and charm me into backing off.

TestShortly after the preview meeting various trade and national press articles appeared, notably this one in The Times (left – click to enlarge).  Various journalists called me and asked such insightful questions as what colour the towers were.  I told them that the real story was the fanciful economics of the plan but they wanted pictures.  As Sellar wasn’t releasing any, they had to piece together and invent the images they published.

The only photo I am aware of was taken by my son Harley on his phone (below right) before he was stopped by the Sellar staff.

(The story continues as I get time to write it.  As it goes up a bit raw  – any voluntary sub-editors would be welcome to spot my spelling mistakes and tidy up my copy – let me know. RG)

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Category: Uncategorized

What can be done…

Page under construction


Southwark Planners have a beautifully simple approach to neighbourhood consultation:  Don’t tell anyone what’s going on and nobody objects.

The Bankside, Borough and London Bridge SPD (Supplementary Planning Document) is the development plan for the area that will be used to determine planning applications for many years to come.  It makes some very controversial proposals in relation to high-rise buildings in St Thomas Street and Bermondsey Street – intruding into the Bermondsey Street Conservation Area.

The map below shows a zone demarcated as suitable for tall buildings.  This embraces two buildings in Bermondsey Street (40 and 42-44) that have recently been purchased by Sellar.  Southwark planners have been most reluctant to account for how the incongruous finger of their high-building zone came to be added (see tall buildings study evolution) and how far it was in collaboration with Sellar.

This difficult-to-decipher map is to be found in Southwark’s draft SPD page 36, figure 20.

Even immediately adjoining owners had no realistic way of knowing that outside their front doors Southwark was paving the way for 50 story tower blocks.  Southwark Planners claim to have discharged their statutory consultation obligations by measures such as placing small ads in local papers and notifying a few community groups.  The reality is that anyone other than the most obsessive of local busybodies could never have known about the high-building zone if we hadn’t made it our business to do Southwark’s consultation for them.  Despite living in a building that stood to be most acutely affected by tall buildings zoned for within 15 metres of their windows residents knew nothing of Southwark’s plan until the deadline for comments had passed.

Once we consulted local people in the immediate vicinity of the proposed new high-building zone, the numbers spoke for themselves.  Our method was simply to put up posters on Globe House – a building immediately across Bermondsey Street from the proposed new tower blocks and talked to people.  Soon the Council received well over 100 objections to add to the paltry 16 their consultation had produced.

Not to be deterred from their plan to usher through a development plan without the hindrance of local people, the planners came up with another deft tactic:  The consultation poster we posted gave a deadline of 23 April (see above) for comments.  This was because we received written confirmation from the planners in the following terms ‘I write to confirm that the deadline for the Bankside, Borough and London Bridge Consultation has now been extended to 23rd April 2010 @ 17:00.’  Below is the email sent to us:

From: “Warren, Sandra” <Sandra.Warren@SOUTHWARK.GOV.UK>
Date: 26 March 2010 09:43:29 GMT
To: <>
Subject: BBLB SPD Extension of time


I write to confirm that the deadline for the Bankside, Borough and London Bridge has now been extended to 23rd April 2010 @ 17:00.

Kind regards

Sandra Warren
Planning Policy
Southwark Council

Once they realized they would receive an avalanche of objections they declared that the extension of the consultation period as notified to us was not for everyone but only for us.  They thereby licensed themselves to discard the vast majority of objections as invalid.

The ‘invalidate-them’ device was to create two categories of objections:  Firstly, the minimal number received prior to the deadline nobody knew about would be fully recognized and ‘reported’.  Secondly, the much larger number would be ‘responded to by officers’??? and not reported.  Effectively this meant complainants would receive a stock reply and both complaint and stock reply could then be binned and forgotten about. Here is a typical response to one of our subscribers:

From: Carnuccio, Michael
Date: 16 April 2010 13:58
Subject: RE: SPD Bermondsey Street
To: steve ford

Dear Steve,

Thank you for your comments.

Can I take this opportunity to clarify that the consultation relates to a planning framework for the area, not a specific planning application. The draft SPD provides guidance on a range of topics including land use and design of new development. We will use it to help decide planning applications.
It has been brought to our attention that posters, flyers and emails have been distributed showing an image of a high-rise development at the top of Bermondsey Street. Please note that these were not made or put out by the council and the development it depicts is not a proposal of the council, the SPD or the subject of any planning application.

If you haven’t already, you can see a copy of the draft SPD at

The most relevant sections relating to your concerns are 4.2.2, 4.2.6, 4.2.12 and 5.5.

The draft SPD recognises that Bermondsey Village has a special character and any development will need to respect and respond to this. We have identified locations where tall buildings might be appropriate if they meet a series of criteria. This includes being sensitive to the character and scale of conservation areas. The draft SPD sets out specific land use, design and public realm guidance for the St Thomas Street car park site that we want any development proposals to meet. This includes not wanting the view up Bermondsey Street to be dominated by a tall building. Building heights should step down to the Bermondsey Street corner and any development along the Bermondsey Street frontage should continue the established heights and building line of the street.

Please also note that any formal planning application for the site would be subject to its own consultation process.

Michael Carnuccio
Team Leader, Planning Policy Team
Regeneration and Neighbourhoods
Planning Policy
PO Box 64529, London SE1P 5LX
T: 020 752 55475 F: 020 7084 0347

Currently we are applying pressure to the Council to acknowledge all objections and to re-open consultation in a genuine manner and for a realistic time scale so that local people can be genuinely informed and have a realistic chance to comment.

See downloadable letters if you would like to write to Southwark Council

On Wednesday 24th March, I made my way to the village hall in Snowfields with other local residents to attend the final public consultation for the draft Supplementary Planning document and Opportunity Area Planning Framework for Bankside, Borough and London Bridge.

The detail given to us to by Southwark Council’s Planning Department was nothing if not thorough – so much so, that I began to wonder where on earth the rest of us would find the time to read it. For a plan still in its consultation period, the effort and expense entailed in preparing it seemed excessive.

It should have come as little surprise, therefore, when local community groups and residents – myself amongst them – demanded that they extend the period beyond the two days remaining. We were not about to consent to such radical changes to our community without ample opportunity to give the proposals due consideration – and particularly not when the Council seemed to be treating the meeting as little more than a rubber stamp by default!

The gentleman finally relented, but only reluctantly.  Another muddled message from the Council – one minute, the process is closed irrevocably and the next, they are able to give us an extension.  Similarly, the plans themselves are contradictory of previous policy: until now, Council planning policy has been completely inflexible – if construction went an inch above the highest building, permission would be denied.

Now, they propose to install high-rise tower blocks on Bermondsey Street, casting a long dark shadow over one of the last examples of London’s traditional village network – a place constructed on a very human scale, reminiscent of gentler days. Thanks to the Liberal Democrats, this kind of thing is happening all across Southwark and Old Bermondsey.

If a Conservative government is elected, local residents will have a far greater say in the way decisions are made by their elected representatives. We will increase transparency by requiring the publication of all spending and contracts over £500, and a ‘rich list’ of public officials earning over £60,000. There will be a community ‘right to buy’, with local residents taking over failing local services and bidding to run community assets. With enough support, they will also be able to demand referendums on any local issue.

Our incumbent MP says he has ‘no influence’ over planning decisions; but this has been my home for fifteen years and I am behind this battle all the way – whether I am chosen to represent this constituency in Parliament or not.


Loanna Morrison
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate
Bermondsey & Old Southwark

Objection letter

Well over 60 people have already sent letters to Southwark Council calling for proper consultation with local people here is a copy of the letter to download to make it easy to add your voice to the calls.  Please let us know so we can keep a tally.

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