Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Barratt Homes at Canada Water and other issues

Here's an article which takes an optimistic view on the subject of the newly started development at Canada Water (it is from a building-focused publication, so you would expect it to be upbeat):

Developer begins construction on PKS Architects project in Canada Water, London, despite pressures of housing downturn

Despite the worst housing slump in living memory Barratt is pressing ahead with a 2,000-unit housing scheme at Canada Water in London.

Barratt East London started the development known as Maple Quays last week. It is working with Southwark council, British Land Canada Quays and the local community to provide a new library, a civic plaza, shops, a play area and green space.

Barratt East London managing director Alastair Baird said: “Maple Quays will transform Rotherhithe and grow into a major asset to the local community and the wider London economy.”

Barratt is continuing to work with PKS Architects on a neighbouring site to add another 186 apartments and 700 more homes to the complex, subject to planning approval.

The first homes in Maple Quays are expected to be completed by September 2008.

I haven't followed the Canada Water project for a long time but my memories of it when the Canada Water Campaign first started was that what was threatened by Barratt Homes then, and what is being built now are two very different things. If memory serves, it took a very long time for the "Maple Quays" development to be scaled down to a level that was remotely acceptable to local residents. I hope that the project as it now stands is going to be of benefit to the area.

But one of the thing that always amazes me about the upbeat verbiage that accompanies articles like the one above is that people ignore some of the obvious problems that we face in Rotherhithe. Putting aside a list of other issues for one moment, an obvious barrier to all development in the area is the infrastrucutre problem. There are just two ways on and off the peninsula and a road system which can barely deal with the weight of traffic when you've managed to get out of here. It's not just the extensive building in Rotherhithe that is adding to the problem - just look at the buildings that have been going up along the Thames in Deptford and Greenwich. All of it adds to the traffic nightmare which has escalated since the two lanes available for cars were reduced to one when the bus lanes were introduced. I cannot see how this essential conflict between new building projects and insufficient road access through the area can be solved (short of a helicopter for every resident).

I'm not against development per se. People need homes and sometimes it does areas good to have new housing projects in their areas. They can completely revive failing parts of towns and cities. If useful and sustainable community facilities are built into those development plans, all to the good. If the requirements and hopes of local people are taken into account, so much the better. But so many "consultation" processes seem to be more about PR presentations to win people over than genuine dialogue between the developers, the councils and the residents. The Barratt Homes plans for the Downtown site seem to be a good illustration of this. It will be interesting to see how the Frogmore consultation pans out. Frogmore have hired a PR company to represent them, which I am not sure bodes well for the potential of having any real conversations. One will just have to wait and see.

The Canada Water Campaign website was updated in February 2008 with a progress report on the latest status on the development.

Whilst I'm agonizing about planning applications and development projects on Rotherhithe here's something else to keep an eye on, which I stumbled across in a report by Jon Surtees on the Southwark News website:

No housing plan, but ground owner does want to develop a ‘mixed use facility’

NEW CHAMPION Hill landlord Eren Muduroglu has vowed that Dulwich Hamlet will have a long term future at their East Dulwich ground - if the club is able to develop its facilities.

Mr. Muduroglu, the sole man behind new owners DHPD, is also the owner of Champion Hill tenants Fisher Athletic and their old ground on Salter Road in Rotherhithe.

His recent acquisition means that he is now the owner of both senior football stadiums in Southwark. He is also part of the consortium negotiating with Southwark Council over plans to build a giant new Fisher Athletic stadium in Southwark Park.

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