Peckham Rye Station neglected by Network Rail

Network Rail’s redevelopment plans for Peckham Rye Station are more about profit and less about what they actually should be: renovation. The pictures linked below, of the bad condition of Peckham Rye, are a clear example of how Network Rail do not take care of buildings and facilities they own and their customers that use them. These puddles, and sometimes floodings are the direct result of the lack of maintenance, bad drainage and no roof to protect commuters from the rain. Network Rail has decided, in the name of profit, to bring big chains to the area and by doing so, kick out local businesses and communities, rather than simply tidy and refurbish their property, as the Peckham locals have requested.

Watch the trailer of our short film on Network Rail’s development plans, “Bleacher on the Rye”

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Visit our Peckham page for more blogs and information
Click Bleacher on the Rye to purchase our short movie on Network Rail’s redevelopment plans

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INURA release public letter in solidarity with Serbian construction workers

belgrade

INURA, the International Network of Urban Research and Action, have released a public letter regarding the housing situation of former Trudbenik construction workers and their families in Belgrade, Serbia.

The letter describes INURA as “a network of people involved in research and action in localities and cities, including professionals, activists and researchers from community and environmental groups, universities and local administrations. INURA is
also a member of the Habitat International Coalition, a global network for the right to housing and social justice.”

Members of INURA recently participated in their 24th international conference, “Between Big Ideas and Life’s Realities” from June 22 – 29, 2014 in Belgrade and Tara.
The conference was attended by about 120 participants from more than 20 countries.

The letter explains, “As part of the official program, we visited a number of sites and projects, including an initiative representing the interests of residents of the so called Samački Hoteli in New Belgrade, Yuri Gagarin Street no. 139, and in Konjarnik, Luneta Milovanovića Street no. 6, built by the KMG TRUDBENIK in 1980 and 1964 respectively. We are writing to you in order to draw your attention to the very precarious living
conditions of its residents and, in particular, to their unresolved housing situation.”

INURA found that a group of over 210 people – mostly former workers of the well-known Serbian construction company KMG TRUDBENIK and their families – are threatened with eviction, writing:

“Their accommodation, once built with the help of solidarity funds financed by the wages of all workers, was sold along with the whole company to the firm MONTERRA in March 2008 as part of the general privatization process in Serbia. Apparently, nothing was done by the state authorities to protect the status of the workers and residents of the Samački Hoteli from the arbitrariness and mismanagement of the new owners. When MONTERRA declared bankruptcy in 2011, all previous arrangements were annulled. More than 500 workers were dismissed, left without any redundancy program or support from the government. It turned out that the “business” policy of the new owner was to plunder the company and profit from its dismantling, with no plans for future production or any obligations towards the workers.”

During their visit, INURA learnt that the residents of Samački Hoteli and similar accommodations have been facing constant harassment and pressure, first by the management of MONTERRA and later by the bankruptcy trustee ERSTE BANKA and SOCIETE GENERALE BANKA and the Commercial Court who all want them to move out of their homes, in order to sell both buildings to repay the debts accrued under the management of MONTERRA. With the bankruptcy of TRUDBENIK, most tenants have become unemployed and are now threatened by eviction. The people who INURA talked to during their visit told them that they have no resources and no other place to
go, and therefore they will probably become homeless. Some families are also frightened that they will be separated, with their children being put in state-run homes while the adults end up on the streets.

INURA conclude: “As INURA members, we come from different countries and are not familiar with the details of the privatization process in Serbia or the laws that enabled and accompanied it. However, we strongly believe that workers and their families should not become the pawns of highly irresponsible corporations and their incessant appetite for increased profits. We are convinced that the state and the city of Belgrade are responsible for the welfare of its citizens and residents and should therefore
take action to prevent these workers and their families from becoming homeless and safeguard their right to housing.”

Therefore, INURA urge political and administrative bodies of Serbia and Belgrade, “to take action and protect the people living in the so called “Workers’ hotels” in Belgrade from harassment, housing insecurity and eviction. We furthermore urge you to make all possible efforts to work on a permanent solution for them and resolve their status as legal residents.”

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Bleacher on the Rye trailer released

Following several successful screenings, we have released a trailer for our new film Bleacher on the Rye, about the proposed redevelopment of Peckham Rye Station.

The residents of Peckham Rye claim they asked for a clean up of the station and surrounding area, described by community group Peckham Vision as a complex site with “commercial buildings nestled amongst railway buildings, viaducts and arches”. Instead the proposed redevelopment would gut the area to make way for a shopping centre and new residential blocks.

The film articulates the concerns of residents and local business people, who oppose the redevelopment, which one man describes as a “bleaching”. “They want a new set of people here,” he says.

Spectacle has been observing and documenting the ‘regeneration’ of London over the past 20 years, which has largely resulted in the displacement of local people, the break up of communities, the creation of gated communities and privatisation of public space.

Please contact us if you would like to organise a screening of this film.

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BP’s Unsustainable Olympic Sponsorship

The Counter Olympics Network (CON) held a conference on the 14th April at the Bishopsgate Institute where they discussed the problems that the 2012 Olympics has caused and planned points of action for the coming months to tackle such issues.

They were joined by international speakers Derrick Evans from the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health, Bryan Parras from the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s) and Clayton Thomas Muller from the Indigenous Environmental Network. Together they spoke about how their projects have been affected by previous Olympics. More specifically on the issues of corporate sponsoring, pollution, gentrification and surveillance that the Olympic Games bring to cities.

Derrick Evans

 Derrick Evans Representing the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health

BP is one of the sponsors for the London 2012 Olympics, as the ‘Official Oil and Gas Partner’ as well as sponsoring the USA Olympics Team. The corporate sponsorship of the Games by BP has angered campaigners who want to publicise the adverse effects BP contributed to the natural environment. Derrick Evans is one such campaigner who argues that BP’s involvement with the Olympics is an attempt to divert attention from its “incomparable contributions to unsustainability globally”.

He gives the example of the Deepwater Horizon Spill when BP discharged two hundred million gallons of crude oil into the gulf of Mexico in 2010 and then “applied nearly two million gallons of chemicals dispersant of Correxics not clean up, but to hide because it has the effect of breaking the oil up.” This has resulted in oil particles being consumed by the smallest life forms in the gulf and therefore infiltrating the whole food chain. Two years on the oil is still present and washes ashore in the Northern Gulf.

This has resulted in economic damage and health problems for the local people. In particular, the local fishing communities have been badly affected as two of their fishing seasons have been completely destroyed and very few of them have “received anything near the level, if anything at all, the level of compensation to compensate them for the lost income and the lost investment in their one asset, which is their boat, and their nets; and the things that they pour all their money into, to get ready for the fishing season.”

The health of the local population has deteriorated considerably since the oil spills. “Thousands, tens of thousands children and adults are exhibiting in large scale, physical symptoms: respiratory issues, skin issues, loss of short-term memory, a lot of the same issues, they don’t know each other.” And these people have not received any compensation, “they haven’t received a dime.” What is more worrying is that not a single cent of BP’s twenty billion dollar Gulf Coast Trust Fund has “pay for a single medical bill for a single person”.

The aim of the Gulf Coast Fund is to “seeks to assist and renew and empower the most vulnerable of the communities and ecosystems on the gulf coast.” The very same ones that have been affected by the BP Oil Spills.

Therefore, the idea that BP being a major sustainability sponsor is ridiculous as the environmental and human damage that BP has caused through oil spills undermines its attempts to be a “sustainabilty sponsor” of the Olympics. “BP has essentially got away with murder in the country and in a part of the country where the state officials and the government agencies that defer to them are like useless law enforcement.” Derrick Evans concludes to say that: “I want to encourage to those of you who want to shed the truth and light on this apparently multi faceted fiasco.”

Bryan Parras

 Bryan Parras Representing the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s)

Bryan Parras is a campaigner from Houston, Texas who is also campaigning against BP and their involvement with the Olympics. He described BP as a “repeat offender” as they repeatedly have accidents and problems. Five years before the Deepwater Horizon Accident BP had an explosion where 15 workers were killed. BP are “constantly cutting corners and cutting back on their safety measures.” But at the same time they are spending huge amounts of money by sponsoring the Olympics.

Bryan Parras sees the “Olympics as just another one of those opportunistic moments where capitalism sort of comes in and reigns its terror on folks.” It’s like watching little league baseball in the stadiums, where “everyone is watching their children and their friends play ball” while their cars get broken into all the time. This seems to happen wherever the Olympics go, everyone is so “focused on where the lights are all shining that we are not seeing what’s happening” to the local communities.

Clayton Thomas Muller

 Clayton Thomas Muller Representing the Indigenous Environmental Network

Clayton Thomas Muller is an activist for indigenous rights and environmental justice and lead campaigner of the Tar Sands campaign. The Indigenous Environmental Network comprises of indigenous people in the United States who have been affected by unsustainable development. BP’s involvement in the exploitation of the Tar Sands on the East coast of Canada has angered both campaigners and local indigenous communities as the extraction industry is unsustainable, causes irreversible damage to the environment and illegally encroaches on disputed indigenous lands.

It is important to understand that for us BP using the Olympics spectacle, the biggest sporting spectacle on the planet. We all know, for those of us who have done the history of the Olympics, that the Olympics is nothing more than a mechanism for the neoliberal capitalist agenda that is essentially a real estate operation to utilize and justify the expropriation of vulnerable communities.”

Vancouver Protests Image by (c) Jason Levis

In Vancouver, the Coalition Olympics Resistance Network or ORN organised and challenged corporate sponsors of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. One campaign, called ‘No Olympics on Stolen Native Lands’ brought together different groups who were fighting for Native rights and sovereignty platforms in opposition to the Olympics. The Olympics caused the gentrification in downtown Vancouver where the local communities have been pushed out to make way for villages for the athletes and tourists. This gentrification mostly affected disadvantaged groups: low income, indigenous urban-based people.

As well as the gentrification of downtown Vancouver the Olympics had caused the destruction and desecration of sensitive ecological regions in and around Vancouver. In order to build the training facilities Eagleridge Bluff, a bald Eagle nesting site and a site that is sacred to the local tribal people. One Elder of the local tribe, Harriet Nahanee organised a campaign to protect Eagle Bluff by creating a blockade to stop machines from coming in. Elder Harriet Nahanee was arrested and contracted Pneumonia in prison and died. “So she died for Olympic resistance, standing up for her rights.”

The Olympics has also caused the increased surveillance in Vancouver. Vancouver is now the second most videotaped city on the planet next to London. Personal privacy has been negotiated as the CCTV cameras are still there. “And so what the Olympics really brought in was a new regime of both militarization and criminalization of the poor, gentrification of the most vulnerable communities, the destruction of ecologically sensitive sites [and] sacred sites to local indigenous people.”

Campaigners are therefore concerned with how the Olympics “created division that used poverty and alleviation as a way to divide different social movements that were converging onto the Olympics.” Clayton Thomas Muller concludes to say that it is absurd that BP is a sustainability partner of the Olympics, “it is nothing more than greenwashing of their horrific human rights abuses and crimes of ecocide against the sacredness of the earth”.

Click London Olympics for more blogs
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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Marriage Ban for Olympic Visitors

Photo by © ukhomeoffice

 

There will be a marriage ban for athletes, coaches and officials who will be attending the London Olympics this summer. The UK Border Agency has announced tight restrictions that include not taking employment during the visit, not enrolling on an education course and not to “marry or form a civil partnership.” The Olympic visitors will also have to prove that they will not overstay their 6 month period. This will apply to approximately 20,000 non EU citizens who will be attending the games this summer.

 

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Battersea Power Station: an open letter to the Science Museum

thinks..one day all this will be allowed to rot...

Keith Garner is a Battersea-based architect and member of the Battersea Power Station Community Group who has recently addressed an open letter to the new head of the Science Museum, Ian Blatchford, proposing a collaborative arrangement between private developers and public institutions to secure the future of the Battersea Power Station.

It has been suggested several times that parts of the Station, especially the famous ‘A’ Station Turbine Hall and Control Room, would work well as a museum of industry or science, and this proposal was raised again at a lecture on the future of Battersea Power Station delivered by architecture historian Gavin Stamp recently. After attending the lecture, Keith drafted a letter to Ian Blatchford proposing the idea of a collaborative effort between the Science Museum and developers.

Battersea Power Station’s owners, Treasury Holdings, are currently in financial difficulty because of the Irish banking crisis and it looks likely that they will soon be forced to sell to another private developer, and there’s little to suggest that a new private owner would fare any better at Battersea Power Station than their three predecessors.

A joint venture would not only guarantee public access to the BPS, but also give private developers a greater chance of success in their plans for the site.

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Local community want to Purchase Battersea Water Pumping Station

Owners of Battersea Power Station, Treasury Holdings/ REO, have submitted an application (ref 2009/3578) to demolish Grade II listed Battersea Water Pumping Station.  Battersea Power Station Company, a not for profit local organisation set up by members of the Battersea Power Station Community Group, have sent Treasury Holdings/ REO a letter expressing an interest in purchasing the building for local community and heritage use

A copy of the letter can be seen below, if you support this letter please comment below and directly to Wandsworth Borough Planning department

8th June  2010

Mr Jeremy Castle
Treasury Holdings
Battersea Power Station
Kirtling Street
London SW8

“Dear Jeremy,

BATTERSEA WATER PUMPING STATION

I am writing concerning your application submitted last year for listed building consent (ref 2009/3578) to demolish Battersea Water Pumping Station.

Members of Battersea Power Station Community Group set up this company in 2002 as a not for profit organisation to carry out useful work in the Queenstown ward, one of the most socially disadvantaged areas of the London Borough of Wandsworth. The company has broad objectives, including: “The preservation of buildings or sites of historic, architectural or industrial importance, in particular Battersea Power Station and Battersea Water Pumping Station”.

In pursuit of this objective, we wrote to Wandsworth Council in January to object to your application. (Our letter of 19th January.) We have also written to English Heritage. We don’t know the outcome of Wandsworth and English Heritage’s deliberations at this stage.

In considering this application however, both organisations will have to take account of government guidance on demolition containing in the new Planning Policy Statement 5. As you know PPS 5 includes guidance for situations where the loss of a “heritage asset” is proposed. This is contained in paragraphs HE9.1 to HE 9.5, requiring alternative uses to be considered, and for charitable or public ownership to be considered as well.

Paragraph HE 9.3 specifically says “… local planning authorities should require the applicant to provide evidence that other potential users have been sought through appropriate marketing and that reasonable endeavours have been made to seek grant funding for the heritage asset’s conservation and to find charitable or public authorities willing to take on the heritage asset.”.

To assist you in this process therefore, we confirm that we do wish to acquire Battersea Water Pumping Station from you. We are willing to raise funds to repair the building, using the Architectural Heritage Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other local sources. Indeed on 10th May, BPSCG members attended a seminar at the HLF about funding for Industrial, Maritime and Transport Heritage projects in London.

We saw in our recent visit to the Pumping Station on 11th March (which you kindly arranged for us) that the brick structure of the building is fundamentally sound. The building is eminently reusable in any number of socially productive ways, that would far outweigh the nominal benefits of building another hotel, office building, or shopping mall on this area of the site.

Clearly there have been years of neglect. The guidance note accompanying PPS 5 (paragraph 96) is clear that the purchase price should be reduced to take account of a backlog of any repairs. We are therefore wiling to take the building from you for a sum of £1. We would also ask for a small donation from you to assist with emergency repairs, and to serve as matched funding in any approach to funding bodies.

We also consider that the narrow strip of land extending from the pumping station to the river should stay with the pumping station to facilitate river related use such as a boat house. The building was separately owned by the water board until the 1980’s on a plot of land with a river frontage. We feel that building and its site should be preserved intact. This strip is at the north east corner of your site and we don’t see that its forfeiture would in be to the detriment of your wider plans. Indeed, it could serve as a useful buffer between your site and the refuse transfer station.

Aside for the inherent industrial and historic importance of the building, that overwhelmingly justifies its retention, there are many social benefits to our company taking over this building. For instance in enabling people from the estates on the south side of Battersea Park Road to take part in river related activity of all kinds.

Clearly bringing this building back into use on the short to medium term will also give positive signals about the viability of the site as a whole to potential investors. They will see that things are actually happening, rather than the procrastination and delay which has become the norm. This can only be in your interest as well.

I hope you find the foregoing of interest. Perhaps we discuss this proposal in more detail when we meet on 14th June, which I am very much looking forward to.”

Yours sincerely,

Keith Garner
Director

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