An Urban media Practice: documentation, agitation, participation

Mark Saunders lecturing on the Urban Practices course at UCL:

An Urban media Practice: documentation, agitation, participation

8th February 3pm in Room 114, 26 Bedford Way, Department of Geography, UCL

Drawing on 30 years experience of independent and community based media practice in London, Brussels and Rostock Mark Saunders will describe the political and technological development of Spectacle’s practice and use of media in urban struggles for social justice in the built environment.

This will include, Despite TV, an innovative video co-operative in East London (1981-94), Jako Co-operative and the making of The Truth Lies in Rostock (90-98) establishing resident video groups in gentrifying Brussels (2000-2009) and long term video workshops on “regenerated” estates Silwood in Rotherhithe (10 years) and Marsh Farm Luton (15 years) and recent work on the London Olympics and Battersea Power Station.

Key Readings:

Olympics

Olympic project pages

Olympic blog

Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station project

Battersea Power Station blog

Suggested further readings:

Surviving Participation Fatigue< Erased Social Geography

Video in the City: Possibilities for Transformation in the Urban Space

Advocacy, Participation and Non Governmental Organisations in planning : A report and video on Spectacle’s APaNGO work

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Silwood Video Group Workshops: Update

We had our first workshop with the Silwood Video Group on Tuesday, which allowed us to get a lot of new footage and more location shots to add to our ever-expanding archive. We are looking forward to getting the project up and running, with lots of positive contributions by residents. We are lining up interviews with pensioners and schoolkids alike, trying to get to the root of the changing nature of life on the estate.

Get involved!

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Or visit PlanA our general blog on urbanism, planning and architecture.
See our Silwood Video Group project pages for more information and videos.

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Olympics 2012: Legacy, Land Grabs and Liberties

Olympics 2012: Legacy, Land Grabs and Liberties

Mark Saunders presentation at HafenCity Universität Hamburg department of Urban Design.

Thursday 13 Jan 2011. 7.30

In the Fog of Games the first casualty is the truth.  The Olympics, like other sporting spectaculars, are only brief and transitory television events that disguise and justify Mega projects of vast urban restructuring that permanently distort our cities for the benefit of a few business interests . The common features of these Mega projects are unprecedented land grabs, the peddling of myths of “regeneration”  and the “legacy” benefits for the host community, the sweeping away of democratic structures and planning restraints, the transfer of public money into private hands and “information management” to hid truths and silence critics.

Mark Saunders will be showing some “work in progress” extracts from Spectacle’s film on the London Olympics.

Zeit:
Donnerstag, 13. Januar 2011
19.00 Uhr

Ort:
HafenCity Universität Hamburg
Averhoffstraße 38
Erdgeschoss, Raum 16 b

Eine Veranstaltung im Rahmen der UD-Vortragsreihe “Feste feiern. Kollektivierungen urbaner Praxis”

For more details and maps

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Battersea Power Station history from the 30s to 1983

The Vauxhall Society reprints an extract from  ‘Battersea Power Station – 50 Years of Service – A Short History’ first published by CEGB Public Relations Branch in 1983.

The Vauxhall Society is the civic consultative group covering the London parliamentary constituency of Vauxhall, which extends from north of Waterloo to Brixton, Clapham, and Stockwell and Vauxhall, as well as the neighbouring districts of Southwark and Wandsworth.

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For more history of the power station click here
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Battersea Power Station- a tragi-comedy of errors

here today...

Battersea Power Station- a tragi-comedy of errors.

by our theatre critic BabyLonDon

Last night’s Wandsworth Borough Council Planning Committee meeting to approve the demolition of the Victorian Battersea Pumping Station and the demolition (and supposed replacement) of the iconic power station chimneys was the best show in town- Dickens in modern dress that occasionally lapsed into panto. The farce played to a packed house – with the corridors full of (vested?) interested parties straining to hear the proceedings over the PA.

The rather predictable plot- a variation on the turkeys voting for Christmas story -had a committee clearly determined to vote in favour spending three hours going through the massive planning application with just one dissenting voice of reason, played by a rather hammy councillor Tony Belton, pointing out the blindingly obvious flaws and unfeasibility of the scheme.

The real drama and humour lay in the fact that the committee seemed oblivious to the subplot- that the developers, REO (Treasury Holdings UK), are massively in “toxic” debt and in effect owned by the Irish tax payers via  NAMA and will do nothing but continue to demolish what little is left on the site and then “flip it”- selling it on as an empty brown field site for river front luxury development.

REO were unlucky that when the music of the property boom stopped they were left without a chair, but lucky enough to have their biggest non-Irish asset located in Wandsworth, infamous for having allowed the power station to fall into its current state of near dilapidation and for waving through truly hideous and desolate riverside developments.

There was something distasteful in the pathos of the affable officer’s naive presentation of the nonsensical scheme as from the public gallery hard nosed and cash hungry developers salivated at the easy meal they were shortly to enjoy.

There were comic moments as the “power dressed” committee members seemed to be made up of people who were in thrall to the promised dream of capitalism but had no clue about business. They dismissed the very real credibility gaps in the developers “vision”, enthusiastically hanging the whole wobbly edifice on the “promise” that these mega debtors (or at least Irish toxic debt vehicle NAMA) would stump up over 200 million pounds for the Northern Line Extension, or as it is known locally the “Ghost train to nowhere”. Even if this phantom train ride were real it would not happen for years even if it all went to plan… it was an evening of “even ifs”.

One comedic highlight was the officer’s report on the stringent “conditions” the council had negotiated with the Developers.

REO could take down the chimneys but must replace within 7 years.

REO could remove the embarrassing sight of the wharf cranes they are letting rot and could “restore” them inside the hulk of the rotting power station.

REO could first develop a slither of land on the north west river front. Happily the piece of land with most instant resale value, being the furthest from the smelly and polluting waste transfer facility on the north east water edge of the site and the cluster of huge gas holders on the south west edge, deemed by the HSE to be enough of a potential danger to society they recommended the scheme was rejected. This danger of an inferno seemed not to trouble the committee who dismissed the HSE’s concerns. One councillor mocked it as health and safety gone mad as residents of the later phases of the development nearer the potential blast would have chosen to buy their luxury flats aware of the risk.

They also swallowed, uncritically, the completely spurious argument for knocking down the grade II listed Victorian pumping station on the grounds it was a “community benefit” in order to “save” the power station apparently achieved by destroying its architectural value by knocking windows all along its sides and turning it into a shopping mall with luxury flats.

All of the responsibilities and commitments of REO were locked into phases of the development projected way into the future. As REO have no real intention, or means, to “deliver” these planning pipe dreams they were in effect getting off Scot free. The only thing the planning committee’s decisions would guarantee were the demolitions.

The press has been full of the glossy artists impressions of this bright new future but actually it is a dark day for most Battersea residents as this scheme will deliver nothing but another decade of planning blight. A bleak future without two of the regions most precious and best loved buildings.

The optimists had to accept that even if the Power Station were to survive this scheme it could not actually be seen from anywhere in the borough once surrounded by the 15+ storey buildings REO planned.

Given the power station is Wandsworth Borough council’s logo it was indeed a turkey landslide vote for every day being christmas.

BabyLonDon’s Final Verdict: Funny but sad. Not an “An absolute triumph”

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Artists’ Impressions Of Battersea Are For Illustration Purposes Only

BPS Battersea Power Station

The demolition plans proposed at last night’s meeting for the future of the grounds of Battersea Power Station grounds are merely artistic impressions in soft focus and not what locals and Londoners should expect to receive.

Most of the things promised are so far in the future that their coming to fruition is highly unlikely – the only concrete actions that were clearly agreed to with immediate effect were the removal of the chimneys and the knocking down of the Pumping Station.

Don’t hold your breath for keys to a luxury flat here just yet.

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Battersea Power Station demolition by stealth gets council go ahead

Tonight, with only one vote against, the London Borough of Wandsworth’s Planning Committee gave the green light for the demolition by stealth of Battersea Power Station by approving the chimneys are removed and (maybe?) replaced and the total destruction of the Victorian Pumping Station as predicted. Condemning north Battersea to another 15 years of urban blight.  But take heart there are still many rivers to cross (for the developers) and many opportunities along the way for us to propose more imaginative uses and to prove that urban planning by speculation is not viable or in the public interest.

For a full report read the review by Spectacle’s theatre critic BabyLonDon

“An absolute triumph”

Coming soon… details of our photographic competition: Soon to be Lost Views of Battersea Power Station

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Unauthorised Battersea Power Station Helipad – NO ACTION

IMG_2642

The unauthorised use of the grounds of the Battersea Power Station as a private helipad has received no action under the ENFORCEMENTS section of the Wandsworth Council’s Planning Application Committee agenda to be discussed at today’s meeting.

Residents have been expressing concerns since as early as June 2003 about helicopter flights causing noise and disturbance, and according to the Committee report:

DETAILS:  The number of helicopter flight movements (a landing and take-off) at
this site within the power station is logged by the Battersea Heliport and its monthly returns shows that the current level of movements is between 14 and 56 per month over the last year, an average per month of about 35 movements.   This compares to a monthly average of between 30 and 51 movements per month over the last ten years, with a peak in activity during the months of May, June and July 2007 (93, 96 and 92 movements, respectively).

All other breaches of planning control in Wandsworth Borough by small businesses are being enforced by the Committee, but nothing is being done to enforce the removal of the helipad:

RECOMMENDATION:  That the committee endorses the view that it is not
expedient to take enforcement action against the use of part of the site of Battersea
Power station for the take-off and landing of helicopters, based on the current level of usage, and that the complainants be informed accordingly.

One rule for the rich and powerful, and another for smaller, less well-connected enterprises?

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For more on Helicopters at Battersea Power Station
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Battersea Power Station chimney and Pump Station demolition meeting

Wandsworth Council’s Planning Applications Committee will (almost certainly) decide to give the go-ahead for the demolition of the chimneys at Battersea Power Station and the listed  grade II Victorian Water Pumping Station despite widespread and expert objection. The meeting is at the

Wandsworth Town Hall Thursday 11th November 7pm

(Please note the earlier than usual start time)

The Town Hall
Wandsworth High Street
London
SW18 2PU

Go to Details and reports for more info and to download the reports online the application number 1 is 2009/3575, No 4, 2009/3676 demolition of chimneys etc, no 3, 2009/3577, no 4, 2009/3578 Demolition of Water Pumping station.

Brian Barnes MBE, Chair of Battersea Power Station Community Group,  has issued a press release on behalf of the BPSCG:

If it were ever built, the Power station would be obscured by massive blocks of luxury flats and hotels. The Power Station will be altered with changes that will spoil the Grade 2* listed building with windows in the side walls, 1950s control room dismantled, new false ceilings in the main turbine hall, pods for penthouses covering the roofs and chimneys demolished and replaced by replicas (as if). Out of 3700 flats, only about 500 to be part buy/part let (so called “affordable”). The Grade 2 listed Battersea Water Pumping Station will be destroyed completely “in the public’s interest”. Any gain of public open space is unusable as it will be lakes and moats to reflect views of Power Station, as if there isn’t enough water with the Thames flowing past…

You can read the full press release here www.batterseapowerstation.org.uk

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See more of Spectacle’s Photos of Battersea Power Station

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Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society Pump House demolition objection letter

Profiting from demolishing our heritage

Malcolm Tucker of the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society has written a letter objecting to the demolition of the grade II listed Victorian Pump House situated next to the Battersea Power Station.

The letter is both a detailed inventory of the archaeological and cultural value of the site that “developer” REO/Treasury Holdings want to raze to the ground in the name of making more money, and a demolition of the arguments for demolition in the recently circulated Planning Policy Statement 5 Assessment, prepared by Donald Insall Associates Ltd and dated September 2010.

Matthew Tucker observes that:

….their arguments for demolition of the building centre on PPS5 Policy HE9.2, and on the wording of listing description and the stated conclusion of the CgMs report that the building has ‘limited architectural, artistic or archaeological significance’. We believe that the building does have architectural and archaeological significance and that its demolition would deny future generations an appreciation of the transition of the Cornish engine from mine pump to waterworks engine. Further, we point out below that it should be possible to incorporate the conserved building within the scheme.

We may add that since CgMs prepared their Historic Building Record in 2005, the original drawings and other records of the building have been studied in detail by Colin Thom of English Heritage Survey of London, corroborating and expanding upon this society’s own researches.

The letter outlines 5 main points:

1) Function and fabric as contributors to the significance of the building.
2) Assessment of architectural significance
3) Significance of artefacts
4) Structural condition
5) Accommodating the building within the development

If you would like to read the  letter in full you can download it here:

If you would like to add your voice to the objections write to: Bob Leuty BLeuty@wandsworth.gov.uk

Please also send spectacle a copy info@spectacle.co.uk so we can be sure your objection is circulated.

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