Eco-Towns under scrutiny of the Urban Design Group

The Eco-Town concept, originally proposed by Gordon Brown in 2007, is yet to be carefully revised. This time the Bordon Eco-Town will serve as the case for the thorough examination of the Urban Design Group (UDG).

Jack Warshaw of Conservation Architecture & Planning will lead the debate with the Bordon community members on pros and cons of this controversial idea.The meeting, taking place on 21.09.2011 at 6.30pm in the Gallery, 70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ, will be video recorded by the Spectacle crew.

Although developing ‘carbon neutral’ Eco-Towns with over 5000 new homes and 15,000 new residents would presumably help to tackle climate change and housing shortage in the UK, some local communities have been strongly opposing this idea. Such issues as sustainability of the project, public engagement, and role of the local authorities are highly questionable.

Friends of the Earth said “…the Government is quietly removing the public’s right to have a meaningful say…”.

To counter the lack of discussion, Spectacle has started a project on Eco Town and Villages. To watch the interviews with Bordon Area Action Group committee members and local residents, visit Spectacle website for Eco Town and Villages.

Click Eco Towns and Villages for more blogs
See our Eco Towns and Villages project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Architect Fights Demolition of Battersea’s Little Pumping Station

Conservation architect Jack Warshaw is furious that Wandsworth council is proposing to give the go-ahead for vast amounts of development around Battersea Power Station – far more than would ever have been allowed, had permission ever been given for the site to be cleared. “On each occasion the excuse was that so much building was necessary to ‘save’ the Power Station – an enabling subsidy at no cost to the public purse,” he stresses.

The irony is that as each permission has been granted, the site has been sold on at a substantial profit from the added value it has acquired with the granting of these virtual developments. Its current owners Treasury Holdings may well do the same.

By contrast, the Station itself has been allowed to decay, which Warshaw feels may already well have gone beyond the point of economic repair. “And the Little Pumping Station, the one building that could be re-used at reasonable cost, is now the subject of a squalid application to demolish. Little by little, the heritage value of the site is being eroded. The permission already granted at the Power Station is a mockery of heritage conservation!” he exclaims.

As Wandsworth’s first Conservation Officer, he was proud of having built up its reputation as a leader in preserving London’s heritage. He was also the first to try, despite not succeeding, to bring about the rescue of Battersea Power Station.

So he feels strongly that the Little Pumping Station still stands apart “begging and able to be rescued. There is no credible case for demolition. Its loss, both of itself and as part of the ensemble, can only add a further insult, covering the Borough Council with still more ignominy.”

Warshaw is also a member of local activists Bordon Area Action Group (see www.baaga.co.uk) and is currently campaigning against another large and dense development in Whitehill Bordon, which will harm the local environment and character of this charming eco-town in east Hampshire.

Click Battersea Power Station for more blogs
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Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Click Eco Towns and Villages for more blogs
See our Eco Towns and Villages project pages for more information and videos.
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.

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Bordon – The Next Tesco Town?


In a recent interview with Jack Warshaw, a local resident to the Bordon area and member of the Bordon Area Action Group (BAAG) committee, the suggestion that the Eco-Town development could lead to the decline of Bordon from a small and quaint town to becoming one of the many new emerging ‘Tesco Town‘ arose.

I hear you all now, what is a ‘Tesco Town’? We all, whether we like it or not have some association with this vast supermarket chain; whether it be the place you do your weekly food shop, your mobile phone provider or where you go for travel insurance – let’s face it, Tesco are taking over the world, well the UK at least.

But what does this mean for other businesses? It cannot have gone unnoticed that over the last few years, independent petrol stations have slowly been disintegrating and being replaced with Tesco, Sainsburys or Morrisons petrol stations, your good old corner shops which used to stock weird and wonderful products are now Tesco Express or Coop Local and fashion magazines are now filled with the latest bargains from George at Asda or Cherokee at Tesco.

This new supermarket craze is helping the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Tesco controls over 30% of the grocery market and certainly does not seem to be suffering the recession blues.

The problem. Towns and villages are losing their charm, for each new Tesco store that opens up, a small part of that town vanishes being replaced by a  superstore with no local history. The days when shoppers knew which family owned which business and each store had a purpose are slowly disappearing as everything you could possibly ever need can now be found under one roof or online.

Jack states, ‘Tesco would be delighted if there was an Eco Town here because they would instantly try to expand to be even bigger… once again you’re looking at a clone town, a Tesco town, an anywhere town, the type of place where all the potential for individual character is eroded and lost’

You don’t need to look far for examples of Tesco towns, towns where the high street is dominated by chain stores and pleasant pedestrianized streets have been turned into car parks – there is even an online society concerned with the power these supermarkets have over the consumer market. This is of course not just happening here, the US are dominated with the giant supermarket chain Walmart and that too, is slowly taking over.

One thing is for sure; there are plenty of people unhappy with this supermarket domination and Bordon residents are no exception. Eco town or no eco town, surely the voice of the locals should be considered before turning what was a small and delightful town into a large and generic housing area.

To see interviews with Bordon Councillors, residents and Bordon Area Action Group members see our Eco Towns and Villages project page or our read the latest blog here.

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

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Eco Town? Everyone is doing it…

Malmö in Sweden, Freiburg in Germany and Amersfoort in Holland, they’re all doing it – Eco Town’s appear to be the next big thing and the UK is not far behind. With potential eco projects already planned in Cornwall, Oxfordshire and Norfolk,  Spectacle have now turned their focus closer to home and onto the small town of Bordon in East Hampshire.

The town is looking to go through an enormous makeover with 5000 new homes built to the Government’s criteria on ‘Eco-towns‘ resulting in a vast amount of funding to aid the development of the Council’s Master plan.

The catch. The town’s population will double in size, the new homes may interfere with green spaces and wildlife, the development is proposed over 20 years and Bordon seems unlikely to be able to cope with the increase of people due to the lack of infrastructure and facilities already present.

It would seem Bordon residents are content with their small town status and although happy to foresee some improvements and increases in housing, the proposed 5000 new homes has generated  controversy.

Residents were generally satisfied with the initial plans of 2000 homes but the new plan of 5000 has triggered the locals to speak up and appeal this huge proposal for the area.

The Bordon Area Action Group (BAAG) has been formed to protest the plans and has attracted a lot of local interest. Spectacle visited the area on the 24th of April and interviewed several of the groups members and supporters as well as one of East Hampshire’s Council members and the interviews can now be found online on the Spectacle project page.

It seems the question everyone wants to know the answer to is what makes this new development Eco? Is this really an effective answer to going green or simply an excuse to solve wider issues such as housing and funding?

Click Eco Towns and Villages for more blogs
Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Eco Towns and Villages project pages for more information and videos.

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