Real Estate Opportunities “debt D-day” approaches

The financial credibility of the owners of the Battersea Power Station site, REO (Real Estate Opportunities) faces a strong test on the 31st of August when payments are due to both NAMA – the Irish toxic debt bank – and Lloyds Banking group. REO’s creditors have recently appointed Ernst & Young as insolvency advisers in advance of the 31st August deadline. Further details on the ‘debt D-day’ are available via the  The Telegraph and Co Star Group.

The Battersea site was bought in 2006 by REO, which is in majority owned by Irish group Treasury Holdings. This purchase occurred during the craziest period of the Irish property bubble. We can see remnants of the bubble in the current development proposal for the Power Station site. The plans bear all the hallmarks of the worst in speculative urban development that occurred during the bubble. However London has remained somewhat immune to the property bubble, and developers are happy to continue with business as usual and forget anything ever happened. This ‘developers dementia’ is of course good news for REO’s creditors NAMA who have been actively encouraged by some commentators to keep inflating a London property bubble.

Within all of this financial wheeling and dealing the real question is being ignored. That is not how long REO can sustain its current level of debt, but one of how long more the planning authorities in London will go on supporting the speculative urban development charade that inflates such bubbles.

The Battersea site is to be developed with a FAR (Floor Area Ratio) of roughly 5.0. This density is above average for London and well above an acceptable maximum density for a northern European city. Such densities sacrifice important basic human needs like daylight and turn open spaces and streets into canyon like wind tunnels. The only purpose such densities serve is to maximise short term profits for developers.

London’s planning authorities need to develop new thinking and approaches to the development of such iconic locations. Which have at their heart urban design that pays regard to human scale and the longer term societal, environmental and cultural needs of the city, rather than pandering to the demands of the demented developers.

 

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See our Battersea Power Station project pages for more information and videos.
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Wanstead Flats: Green space to Olympic holding cells?

Wanstead Flats: A vast, open grassland in Epping Forest, east London, surrounded by residential areas: This is where the Metropolitan Police plans to site an operational centre for the 2012 Olympics. On 5th September 2010, about 350 people attended a Mass Community Picnic on Wanstead Flats, demonstrating their opposition to the police’s proposal.

Official statements by the City of London, responsible for Epping Forest, have stated it will be a police briefing centre in the southwestern part of the Flats for a period of three months. However, subsequent conversations with officials have revealed that the site, covering three hectares, will seemingly be used for police deployment, and include a feeding station and stabling for police horses and also holding cells. Since those plans became public in June, local residents have started to organise their protest in order to preserve the open green space. Wanstead Flats are protected by the Epping Forest Act, 1878 which inhibits any use other than for recreation and public enjoyment and does not allow the erection of permanent structures. It is feared that the police’s proposal will set a precedent for further developments on the Flats in the near future. The fact that the Epping Forest Act has to be adapted in order to legalize the planned project is strengthening these apprehensions. These and other critical issues such as lack of public consultation, concerns about traffic and accessibility were discussed by local residents during the event on 5th September with Paul Thomson, Superintendent of Epping Forest. Two similar temporary police centres are to be erected for the Olympic Games, one in Hackney and another in Greenwich.

The next Local Residents’ Public Meeting of the Save Wanstead Flats Campaign will take place on Wednesday 6th October 2010, 7pm, at Durning Hall Community Centre, Earlham Grove, Forest Gate E7 9AB. For further information see savewansteadflats.org.uk

Wanstead Flats is one of many green sites that the “Greenest Olympics” will affect.

Sign the Petition now!

This is one of many green sites that the “Greenest Olympics” will destroy also see

Park to be tarmaced for Olympics

Basildon is latest signing to Disgruntled First XI

Greenwich Park, a centre for Equestrian Excellence? Perhaps not

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See our Olympics project pages for more information and videos.

Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Battersea Power Station & Olympics 2012 – Legacy, Land Grabs and Liberties

Olympic Blues

Olympic Blues

BATTERSEA POWER STATION AND OLYMPICS 2012: LEGACY, LAND GRABS AND LIBERTIES

Mark Saunders talk and videos

Wednesday, 02 June 2010 17:30

Room 517 (5th floor), Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, Wates House, 22 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0QB.

Directions

More info on London Planning Seminars

For more info:
On the Olympics:
Project: http://www.spectacle.co.uk/London-Olympics-2012
Blog: http://www.spectacle.co.uk/spectacleblog/category/olympics-2012/

On Battersea Power Station:
Project: http://www.spectacle.co.uk/Battersea-Power-Station
Blog: http://www.spectacle.co.uk/spectacleblog/category/battersea-power-station/