The Delhi Eye – A Symbol of Innocence and Inexperience?

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With the Commonwealth Games slipping into their final days in Delhi, other construction efforts are rushing for completion in a similar manner. Located away from central Delhi, in Kalindi Kunj gardens on the banks of the Yamuna River, the 45m wheel aspires to evoke comparisons with its more famous London counterpart. However, like much of the city, it remains unfinished and unused, with it’s location unknown to most locals and with the RP20 entrance fee to the gardens likely to prevent it being enjoyed by all levels of society.

It does boast one feature that the London Eye doesn’t – a VIP pod equipped (as rumour has it) with a minibar and a television. In case the view from the top proves underwhelming.

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The Good. The Bad. And Section 106.

Sil Workshop 28-07-05

Spectacle, having established the Silwood Video Group, have been an active presence on the Silwood Estate since 2001, and in nearly 10 years of voluntary film-workshops and attendance at Residents’ Meetings, we have seen the landscape of this slice of South-East London change, and change as a result of regeneration.

Since 2005 at the Residents’ Forum Meetings, which are now held quarterly, the residents have asked to see the business plans for development and to have access to details of Section 106, which was declared a ‘non-public document’ by the London & Quadrant NIT Manager on the Silwood. The statement was later retracted, but the Section 106 document, to date, has not been made available to residents.

Tower Homes, the commercial wing of London & Quadrant, won the planning permission rights to the land in the Silwood area, on which they intended to build luxury apartments. By law, this makes them accountable to Section 106 Agreement of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990), which states that if development is agreed upon, for example, Lewisham Council awarding planning permission to Tower Homes, then the new landowners must provide resources that are of benefit to the community that will be affected by the development. In the case of the Silwood, London & Quadrant was entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the re-provision of community facilities, play areas/ parks, and youth centres on the Estate, which were demolished as a result of the regeneration process. The Lewington Centre was then built as a replacement for the former community centre and the Cyber Centre under Section 106.

Residents are currently being asked to pay relatively steep rates in order to use their new Centre, but the bone of contention lies in the fact that, according to the ‘Regeneration Project Initiation Document’, freely available from Lewisham Council, London & Quadrant allocated a fund of £2 million in order to meet their Section 106 obligations. On top of this, despite the claim of London & Quadrant representatives at Residents’ Meetings on the Silwood that these rates are essential to their business plan and the long-term running of the Lewington Centre, their business plan for 2009 shows that they have made a profit in the region of £120, 000. So why do they seem so unwilling to invest in fully rebuilding the local infrastructure?

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Battersea Power Station-Privatising the river front

BATTERSEA POWER STATION and Berkeley Homes are blocking the river access. REO, current owners of Battersea Power Station, are planning to do nothing on the site until after 2012 and not completing construction until 2020. That is their planned schedule, of course there could be delays and it could slip into the mid or late 20s. Meanwhile Londoners are excluded from using the river front.

REO like to claim they are concerned to benefit local people and Londoners in general but actually do nothing to back this up. A quick and relatively cheap benefit REO could implement NOW to demonstrate their good intentions would be to open up access to the river.

The Thames Path, part of the National Trail, is unique, it’s the only long distance path to follow a river for most of its length. It should be possible to walk the entire length of the River Thames through the city centre.

Thames Path (section 14)

Thames Path (section 14)

Currently the Thames Path on the south bank going east runs along the embankment of  Battersea Park, extends to a new pedestrian bridge that goes under Chelsea Bridge towards the Power Station.

New pedestrian footbridge under Chelsea Bridge looking east

There is then a short riverside path running in front of the new Berkeley Homes flats that ends in a gate saying: “Private Property: No public Access Beyond this point. Site access only” and “Danger Construction Site”

Is this really "private property"?

Is this really "private property"?

There is no obvious reason why Berkeley Homes should be able to privatise this river front access for their exclusive use. Is it legal? There is no sign of any construction work being done beyond these gates. It cannot be because the Power Station is unsafe as REO, current owners of the site, have recently agreed to build a marquee inside the roofless turbine hall between the four chimneys for lucrative income generating public events.

View of Berkeley Home's office from north bank

View of Berkeley Home's office from the north bank. Why is this blocking the "Thames Path"?

The path could easily extend east in front of the power station and connect with the Thames Path at Kirtling St and Tideway Walk.
The only real obstacle is the Cringle Street Refuse Transfer Station. However at other points on the Thames were there are such riverside waste transfer stations the path continues inside a protective cage. On REO’s own model (below) they showed the path going out onto a jetty over the river.  The grey jetty already exists only the white jetty extensions at either end are needed to make the Thames Path continuous and by pass the Refuse Transfer Station.

REO's model showing extended jetty running in front of Waste Transfer Station

REO's model showing extended jetty running in front of Waste Transfer Station

REO’s own plans shows a riverside footbridge going around the waste transfer plant. A small extension of the jetty ( in white) provides a path that bypasses the Waste transfer plant.

There is no reason the Thames Path could not be opened up NOW, cheaply and immediately. If you want to let REO know how you feel about them blocking the Thames Path you can fill in their questionnaire.

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