Wednesday, 30 March 2011

New Gym to open at Kennington Business Park, Canterbury Court, SE11

A new budget 24 hour gym is to be opened in Kennington by Pure Gym in June this year.  After making enquiries, I've found that it will be located at Kennington Park Business Centre, Canterbury Court at the top of Brixton Road.  That location should generate business for both the gym and the business park and will be a very welcome addition to the area.  However, they're being slightly cagey about releasing the "final" location, so don't assume that it's 100% definite until it actually happens.

I've always felt that there's a bit of a gym "gap" in SE11, and I've found trying to get across Vauxhall interchange under the subways to be a major dis-incentive.  (Yeah, yeah, I wasn't exactly enthused about gym-going in the first place!)

The fees (if similar to Wandsworth) will be £20 per month, with no contract and a £20 joining fee.  That's slightly pricier than the Gym group site at Vauxhall, but I've heard recently that there's a waiting list at Vauxhall now, so demand is clearly high.  Also, they've not officially launched their price list or anything, I'm just surmising.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

March for the alternative: round-up of photos

I noted on my previous post, You can take Kennington Common from the Chartists. that I wouldn't be attending the March for the Alternative.  Thankfully, a number of SE11 residents were present and did take photos, so thanks to the kindness of one of my Twitter followers, @AdamF81 I've a couple that can be displayed on the blog (including one of the defiant Trojan horse).  I must add that I don't condone violence of any type, nor the minority of violent march-participants, but I hope it's clear from these photos that the people taking part are a completely mixed bag.

The protestors left Kennington Park at about 11:30am:

There's also a video of the march on Facebook here, and if you want to view the photos or make any comments on the march, there's a Facebook page set up and dedicated to Kennington here.

There are more photos of spitfires and tanks also processing up from Camberwell Green to Kennington Park over here which notes that the props (including Trojan horse) were created by art students at Camberwell.

Also, take a look at the photos from Peter Marshall, showing the range of different people at Kennington Park, from Latin American community groups to Councillor Kingsley Adams (local independent Labour councillor) and families to Ted Knight (old Lambeth leader).  Lots of Unison members, teachers etc.

And (edit 6:4/2011), I've added some more photos of the march gathering in Kennington Park, with permission from Indymedia from whom they're sourced:

 (Photo originally from Indymedia)

(Photo originally from Indymedia)

(Photo originally from Indymedia)

 (Photo originally from Indymedia)

 (Photo originally from Indymedia)

 (Photo originally from Indymedia)

Monday, 28 March 2011

Celebratory Feast at Oval Famers Market and Royal Scarecrows, Peter Tatchell on Environmental Campaigning, Vauxhall Easter Egg Hunt and more...

A few diary dates... I'm trying to keep up and add them to my Lurking about S11 calendar, but I'm not brilliant so will summarise them here.  As ever, there's a lot going on...

Vauxhall Gardens Estate Residents and Tenants Association AGM
Thursday 31st March, 6:30pm - 9pm at the Carmelita Centre (corner of Jonathan St and Vauxhall Walk)

Celebratory Feast at Oval Farmer's Market
Saturday 2nd April, 10am - 3pm at Oval Farmer's Market (grounds of St Mark's church in Oval)

Unveiling of royal scarecrows at Cottington Community Gardens
Saturday 2nd April, 12 noon at Opal Street, Kennington Lane, SE11 4HZ

Peter Tatchell to be interviewed on human rights work and environmental campaigning
Tuesday 5th April, 7:45pm at Oval House Theatre

KOV Forum
Thursday 7th April, 7pm - 9pm at St Anne's Resettlement Hall, 40-46 Harleyford Road.  (Entrance in Vauxhall Grove, SW8 1TD)

East Egg Hunt in Vauxhall Park (for children aged between 1 and 10)
Saturday 9th April, 10:30am (registration) for 11am start.  The event is for children aged between 1 and 10 only.

Kennington Gardens Society Spring Show
Saturday 16th April, 9am - 3pm at St Anselm's Hall

Royal Wedding Street Party
(This one isn't certain yet, but it looks to be fun if they manage to pull it off...)
Friday 29th April (time TBA) at Tea Hosue Theatre (formerly Queen Anne pub in Spring Gardens)

Friday, 25 March 2011

You can take Kennington Common from the Chartists, but you can't take the Chartists out of Kennington Park

I'm sure that if you're interested, you'll already have heard from another source, but tomorrow is the day that the March for the Alternative is taking place in London and one of the feeder marches leaves from Kennington Park at 11am.

The first aim of the march (which is organised by the TUC) is to give a national voice to those affected by the ConDem deficit-solution programme and to demonstrate peoples' opposition to the extent of the cuts.  The second aim of the march is to reject the government's argument that there is no alternative option to deep cuts.  The marchers will demonstrate against the swingeing cuts which they argue are not the most effective way to ease the country out of the recession.

The Guardian expects the following folk on the March for the Alternative; students, mums/toddlers, pensioners, a football supporters union named "the Spirit of Shanky", campaigners against domestic violence, medical personnel from "Keep our NHS public", off-duty police officers (as well as those on duty), journalists, a national anti-cut alliance, a group called Resist 26 who intend to occupy Hyde Park, a group of campaigners who are inspired by protests in the Middle East and intend to occupy Trafalgar Square for 24 hours and finally... anarchists/communists and militant workers who think the TUC have sold out.  The anarchist/communist/militant group are the ones organising the feeder march from Kennington Park.

Naturally, there is a certain amount of "establishment" opposition to radical folk all getting together to protest, so the Financial Times has an ex-commander from Scotland Yard warning that "extremist" groups might be planning violence.  I wonder whether they'd be referring to the mums/toddlers or the pensioners??  But... it seems that this intelligence emerged from the stable of "The Policy Exchange", a right-wing think tank, and actually, the current Met Police are aware of rumblings but aren't so concerned.  The ex-commander thinks the police aren't aggressive enough at rooting out troublemakers early, and he seems to be agitating.  The TUC apparently intend to have a peaceful family day...

Don't be afraid that the Kennington Park demonstrators will be hardcore anarchists, they're going to be ordinary folk too.  Urban 75 say South London will be assembling at Kennington Park, and the march will be supported by, "Lambeth TUC, Southwark TUC, Lambeth SOS, Southwark SOS, Wandsworth Against the Cuts, Lewisham Anti-Cuts Alliance, Latin American Coalition Against the Cuts, Goldsmiths Students’ Union, Defend Southbank Defend Education, Lambeth and Lewisham Right to Work.".  They can't all be anarchists!

Simon Jenkins, of the Guardian's "Comment is Free" (which hit my radar on account of his mention of Kennington Park) thinks British people attempting to identify with protesters in the Middle East is "insulting" to those suffering under quasi-facist regimes.  He thinks protests are outdated.  But I've never believed that solidarity meant that one had to assume similarities of regime.  It's perfectly obvious that Britain under Cameron is not Libya under Gaddafi, but I'd have thought that the Middle Eastern protesters would welcome British folk promoting two causes.  Me?  I love a good protest.  Unfortunately, I'm already committed elsewhere tomorrow, but would be there if I could.  In my view, protests and demos are a way of building solidarity for a cause, making a point a a creative manner, and discovering new friends.  Jenkins though, thinks demonstrations do not make much difference and
 "are mostly boosts to group morale, childish song festivals, obsessions with the media and desperate attempts to cause a genteel nuisance without breaching the law".
But isn't that missing the point?  I mean, demonstrations do make a difference, but sometimes they make more of a difference to those who are on them than those who observe them.  The London Million Women Rise march numbers nowhere close to one million women, but it provides a much-needed space for women to get together and affirm that male violence against women is wrong.  It's a space to say, "violence exists, behind closed doors, and we want to talk about it".  Maybe it makes no difference to Jenkins, but it does to the women who march who have stayed silent for many years.  Pride marches used to be a form of protest and solidarity, but when they'd achieved most of their goals, they became a carnival and a way of demonstrating that London has room for a diversity of views.  Do these things make any difference? Undoubtedly, but that doesn't necessarily mean they lead to legislative change.  Are they still needed when we have Twitter and Facebook and blogs and television?  Yes, absolutely.  Demonstrations and protests are more important in a society that has weakened social and familial ties because they offer citizens a protection (a very weak protection, admittedly) against the coercive nature of even democratic states.  (Indeed, that any journalist can label Britain "peaceable" whilst it appears to be at war with three countries rather demonstrates that many people fail to recognise how coercive Britain actually is).

Protests may not necessarily achieve their stated aims, but this does not prove that they "do not make much difference".  The demonstration against the Iraq war certainly didn't stop Tony Blair taking the country to war, but the political cynicism it created in the eyes of a younger British public may be behind demands for thorough-going parliamentary reform.  They may not, of course.  But one cannot know what the outcomes would have been had nobody marched.  Protests are much more than "the venue of withdrawal of consent when all else has failed," they are actually a means for creating a different society.  They're a place for forming a body politic and for shaping political opinions.  What Tahrir and Trafalgar Squares have in common is that the people who occupy them long for a politics that will include the ordinary bodies that are missing from the Westminsters of the world.

Today's politicians won't be out of a job (at least for a few years) as a result of the cuts they voted in, and they won't be surviving on State pensions alone when they leave Westminster.  But joblessness and fuel poverty and the failure of adequate healthcare might  be experienced by millions of ordinary people if the cuts bite deep, and the NHS is crushed beyond repair.  That matters.  Occupying a square is something an ordinary woman or man might do.  Occupying parliament is not.  March onwards!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

In the beginning...The future of St Agnes Church, Kennington Park and the end of an era

It's difficult to know how to write about certain matters because to write seems to risk trampling upon private grief that one ought not be privy too.  St Agnes Church, Kennington Park is one such case.  However, it's local to our patch, so it would be an omission to say nothing.  A reader drew my attention to an article in last week's South London Press about the Kennington church to ask about the story.  The article states that Fr Christopher Pearson, and half of the congregation of St Agnes' (Anglican)  joined St Wilfrid's, Lorrimore Road on Ash Wednesday to begin their journey into the Roman Catholic Church.  There's a brief mention on the Independent Catholic News site too.

St Agnes was until 2010 under the care of the Bishop of Fulham, but when the Church of England voted in favour of women bishops, the Bishop of Fulham stated his intention to become a Roman Catholic. A number of parishes (St Agnes among them) likely considered that having a woman appointed as their bishop risked breaking the line of apostolic succession.  That  means that they do not believe that women bishops can be validly ordained and therefore, cannot have the gift of ministerial priesthood conferred upon them and therefore that their sacraments aren't valid, and thus consequently, they aren't fully "church".  Parishes with such views could always rely in the past, upon the validity of the Bishop's orders (and just sort of ignore women priests, whose ministerial priesthood they didn't accept).  However, the possibility of a woman bishop (or several) made it impossible for some parishes to continue in that vein, and many of them joined the personal Ordinariate, a group set up by the Pope in 2009 to welcome Anglicans.  (Of course, that annoyed a few Roman Catholics who would want their denomination to accept women priests, but the Pope has the final say...)

Most outsiders, many insiders and a few with one foot in the door simply look on in an entirely bemused manner and label the refusal to accept the ministry of bishops and priests on the basis of their gender "misogyny".  There is reason indeed to believe that many Christians are misogynists.  However, Fr Pearson claimed not to be in the SLP article, stating, "I have no real problem with women priests or civil partnerships, but they are a bar to unity...".  One might wonder whether the Pope would share the "no real problem" view, but that's another matter.  What should be noted is that an exit from  their beloved and cherished denomination is heartbreaking for many Anglicans, who believed they would still be assured of a place in the Anglican church, even after the decision to ordain women in 1992.  That's what I mean about this article being an intrusion on their grief...  Disagreements amongst communities sometimes tear those communities apart, and within small parish settings, seem to divide close neighbours...  Sky News recorded a piece at St Agnes' Church, recording the views of those who intended to leave.

I had been wondering for a while what might become of the church building, and the rest of the congregation (presuming that they weren't all to become Roman Catholics).  Their website wasn't informative, so I was hoping there might be a notice outside.   This being the Anglican church, the offline guess proved correct.  It seems that St Agnes have formed a new parochial church council (PCC) and appointed new officers and hope to appoint a new vicar, but are (unsurprisingly) missing many congregation members who would perform such duties as Readings and Intercessions on a Sunday morning.  They want to contact any old members who have slipped away and would wish to return.  In the highly unlikely event that there are people reading Lurking about SE11 who either wish to return to St Agnes or wish to join a church, it's likely that St Agnes would very much welcome your gifts at the current time.  (And in the interests of fairness, I should probably say that it's likely St Wilfrid's would extend a welcome too).

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Installation of Cycle Hire docks at Cleaver Square, Vauxhall Station and Kennington tube

I've been contacted by the amazing Dawn Rahman of Lambeth Council and asked to inform readers that the new Cycle Hire docks will be installed at Cleaver Square by the 31st of March, but won't be usable until two weeks after that date on account of resourcing issues at TFL.  It seems that extensive remedial works (including re-paving the area) are to be carried out by TFL, but they've not quite got the timing right, so the docking stations won't be accessible until after the paving works have finished!  I don't suppose most people will lament the additional two week wait if the area around Cleaver Street is improved as a result, but I'm grateful for the heads-up from Lambeth. 

The new Cycle Hire docking stations appear to have been started in the tunnel adjacent to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, extending provision at Vauxhall Station (great news), but they're not yet finished.  Also, I think I spotted that new (ordinary) cycle stands had been installed nearly opposite Kennington tube station (always a good thing as there's never enough places to lock bikes), but we're still waiting for the new Cycle Hire docks to be added at that location.  Also, I noticed an article on a piece of kit, the Cyclehoop, which can be used to transform a piece of street furniture into a secure place to lock a bike.  Does anybody know whether we have any of them in SE11?

I'm certain that there's been a very definite rise in the number of cyclists using Kennington Park Road and Clapham Road and the CS7 Cycle Superhighway.  I expect numbers to rise as we enter summer and as a cyclist, pedestrian and driver, I'd call for more cautious road use from everybody to prevent further accidents.  Also, it would be very useful to have a bike shop in Kennington, as there's rather a dearth between Waterloo and Brixton...  Any entrepreneurs out there?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Harleyford Road incident: woman threatened to jump from building

Harleyford Road, between Oval and Vauxhall was closed by police between 11pm last night (21st March) and 1:30pm today (22nd March) as a female resident threatened to jump from the window ledge of a building in the vicinity.  After shouting at passerby for most of the night, the resident was eventually talked down to safety, and the road re-opened.  The incident caused traffic chaos throughout the vicinity of Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall until midday.

There was a rumour on Twitter earlier that the road had been closed due to a murder. Thankfully, that doesn't appear to have been the case, and further rumours should be put to rest.

Vauxhall Square overhead walkways - CLS Design competition results

CLS Holdings have received all of their competition entries for the design of the proposed new (and somewhat controversial) Linear Walkway in Vauxhall, which will form part of the Vauxhall Square "twin towers" development.  The linear walkway would enable residents and commuters to traverse Vauxhall in the air, as opposed to focing everybody to trek across the interchange.  Some local residents are arguing that raised walkways were a feature of sixties architecture that should be abandoned on account of their inaccessibility and inhospitality and through suggesting that they can be crime hot spots.  CLS disagree and maintain that since (if granted permission), they'll own and maintain the Vauxhall walkway, it can be designed in such a way that anti-social behaviour can be minimised.

Today CLS have announced that they've shortlisted 5 companies, all who've created different Linear Walkway designs and they're showcasing all of the designs on the Vauxhall Square website.  I've given them all rude nicknames.  I think I slightly favour "Hire-a-forest", but since I'm not in favour of an aerial walkway and would rather TFL abolish the interchance, I'm not sure whether it matters too much.  However, I'm happy to have my mind changed....  Can you make arguments in favour of "Futuristic Crystal Jubille Line" or do you prefer "Rollercoaster Speedtrack"?

First up, we have the "Starfish Slinky" design from Explorations Architect.  I remain unconvinced that running a giant slinky (remember the 1980s?!?) through Vauxhall is quite the way forward:

Secondly, there's the mysterious "Grassy Swiss Cheese" design from Heneghan Peng Architects.  The design is so abstract that it's difficult to tell quite what it is from the drawings....

Next, take a look at what I'm calling "Futuristic Crystal Jubilee Line" design from Knight Architects.  I'm not convinced that converting a straight walkway into an undulating walkway really helps with the 300 metre bridge issue, but nevermind:

Now we'll move on to "Hire-A-Forest" from Marks Barfield architects...  Involves lots of trees.  Never knew that it was possible to import greenery in quite this way.  Wonder what it would look like in autumn ;-) :

Finally, here's "Rollercoaster Speedtrack" from RFR architects.  I do hope it wouldn't be orange!!:

Friday, 18 March 2011

Kennington Cross (minor update re. 216 Kennington Road and a new project?)

I've lost count of the number of people who have emailed, left comments on the blog and sent Tweets with questions and info about what's happening at 216 Kennington Road.  All that any of us know is that white lines have been painted, sections of the kerb have been dug up and a new loading bay has been installed at the side of the development.  I'm presuming that this is in anticipation of the yet-to-be-confirmed Tesco, but I'm also presuming that it might help with the construction work required for the new flats in the development (which I think are part of the same planning consent as the alleged supermarket).  No more info. I'm afraid, but thanks to those who've been asking and those that intially notified me about the works.

Also, I've noticed an intriguing new project, "Pathways at Kennington Cross" which looks related to the old St Anselm Project, whose website seems to have disappeared offline and into oblivion.  Does anybody have any news on that project and is it still in the pipeline?  "Pathways" states that it's: exciting new programme which looks to create a variety of sustainable businesses, run by ex-offenders, based at St Anselm’s church.  The programme will include an 80 cover bistro and restaurant (inspired by our success at The Clink, the first commercial restaurant operating in a prison: the aim is to provide employment, skills training and links to accommodation for ex-offenders and local young people...
In other words, it sounds similar to the St Anselm Project... I'm wondering whether they've just recreated their website?

Roots and Shoots Spring Open Day - Sounds Alive for Spring

It's that time of year again...  The daffodils and crocuses are out, and Spring always seems to come slightly earlier in Kennington.  (According to members of the Kennington Gardens Society, Kennington has its own unique climate, allowing warm termperate plants that might not grow in other parts of London to flourish here).  Anyhow, the arrival of Spring heralds another open day at Roots and Shoots.

This coming Sunday, from 11am-4pm, Roots and Shoots are holding "Sounds Alive for Spring", where they'll be specially celebrating Spring noises such as croaking frogs, dawn choruses etc.  They'll have a story-teller-in-residence telling tales from Lambeth Walk and all sorts of other fun things to do for the family.  More info at the Roots and Shoots website

I've lost count of the number of Roots and Shoots events that I've attended, and they're always great fun and a fantastic chance to go and have a look around the Roots and Shoots Garden in Walnut Tree Walk.  (It really is possible to find a tranquil haven and escape from the traffic noise in SE11).

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Green Things: Climate Week film in Bonnington Square and Peter Tatchell at Oval House Theatre

Next week is Climate Week.  Vauxhall will be fortunate in gaining its very own newly minted Green Champion in April or May (more on that in a later post, I hope).  As a result, there will be a film screening of "The Yes Men Fix the World" on Wednesday 23rd March at 8:15pm on the top floor of the Bonnington Square centre.

If you're unable to attend on Wednesday, there will be a repeat of "The Yes Men Fix the World" (5pm) and also a screening of "The Age of Stupid" (7:30pm) on Sunday 27th March at The Priory Arms, Lansdowne Way, Stockwell.  

Finally, I've thought quite hard about mentioning the following on account of not wishing to promote party political events.  I've made a bit of an exception for the following on account of the fact that it's Peter Tatchell and should be quite interesting aside from the fact that it's a Green Party fund raiser.  The local Green Party are holding an evening with Peter Tatchell (a green party member) who will be interviewed by Claire Armistead (literary editor of The Guardian)  on Tuesday 5th April at Oval House Theatre at 7:45pm.  Tatchell will speak about his thirty years of environmental and human rights campaigning.  From 6:30pm, Oval House will offer a vegetarian menu.  The evening can be booked for £10 (£3 concessions) direct with Oval House Theatre.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park and Vauxhall Park to lose Park Rangers

Last week, Tradescant blog noted that due to the inevitable Lambeth Council cuts, Vauxhall Park will be losing the services of its two full-time gardeners and all of its Park Rangers.  There's an "ipetition", left by a reader on a comment some months ago that you can sign electronically to make your voice heard about the Lambeth Park Ranger service.  They've 466 signatures so far. 

This week, it's Southwark Council's turn.  I've been notified by the Friends of Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park (GMHP) that Southwark plan to remove the full-time Park Ranger/Gardener service from the GMH Park and replace it with a rotating part-time team.  The Friends of GMHP are holding a public meeting on 28th March (7pm-9pm) at St Jude's Community Association, The Crypt, St George's Road, London, SE1 6EZ at which they will ask Southwark Council to be answerable to the community about how the park will be run in the absence of the Ranger Service.

The Friends' group have also written to Southwark to advise them on the following points:
  • Based on an updated estimate from a 2002 Mori poll, it's likely that in excess of 2.5 million people use the Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park each year.  This is likely to be increased in 2012 due to the Olympic Games. 
  • The park is only 5.9 hectares in size.  This makes the footfall it receives per person per hectare comparable to St James' Park.  Given the intense pressures upon it, it needs constant care rather than seasonal attention.  Maintenance at a lower lever will have a negative impact on overseas visitors to the Imperial War Museum.
  • The Ranger Gardeners deal politely and sensitively on a daily basis with 5-10 rough sleepers (and their bedding and excrement) and ensure that the playground is free from unsavoury characters.  In the past, the Parks Liaison Officers have not demonstrated effective interpersonal skills in this regard, and they'd be shared with 2 other parks, which (in view of the size of GMHP) would likely negatively impact the other parks
  • The presence of Rangers at different times of the day has reduced vandalism, increased security and nearly eliminated drug-dealing.  Ocacsional patrols would not provide a continued presence capable of maintaining the character of the park.
  • The plans that Southwark Council have presented do not make savings at higher grades.  New proposals introduce a Director position which cuts the budget for Ranger/Gardeners (who are good value for money).  Southwark's plans may benefit larger parks, but the GMHP would lose out.
Do attend the above meeting if the GMHP is your local park and you're worried that reduction in the Ranger Service might make it a less attractive place to be.  The park is across the border in SE1, but it's a local park for many Kennington folk...

Monday, 14 March 2011

Travelodge granted planning permission for hotel at Vauxhall bus station

Travelodge have received consent from Lambeth Council to build a new hotel at Vauxhall Bus Station that is expected to open by September 2012 (in time for the Paralympics, at least).  I wrote a post last year giving more details of the planned 148 bedroom Travelodge in Vauxhall.  I was quite positive about the development, considering that retail outlets on the ground floor would offer additional possibilities for commuters and locals on what is essentially at present a concrete island containing a lone Starbucks.  However, the Vauxhall Society objected on the basis that the application didn't come with an environmental assessment...  It seems Lambeth thought the positives outweighed the negatives.

Salmon Developments (the developers) have a few shots of how they expect the hotel to look.  It's worth noting that the six-storey building is to be constructed after the destruction of the current building on site, so that might cause a little mess for a year or so!

The formal address of the hotel is likely to be 1-9 Bondway, but hotel residents will (at least on one side) look on to the magnificent Vauxhall transport hub as they rub their bleary eyes in the morning.   Still, according to Property Week, the Travelodge central London development manager noted:
"There is no better location for a hotel in Vauxhall than this..."
I'm not so sure!  I'd have thought that the river views of the Albert Embankment might be more attractive.  But it's a central location, offers budget to medium-range accommodation and is likely to benefit commuters and local people who desire a more diverse range of shops/restaurants in the area.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Proposed 44-storey tower scheme on Newington Butts revived and Cycling on Southern Elephant Roundabout?

London-SE1 is reporting that the planned 44-storey tower on 80 Newington Butts (site of the former London Park Hotel) has been revived.  In its former incarnation, it was named by the developer First Base as "London 360" and recognisable by the unusual "fins" planned for the the top of the tower.  Southwark Council approved the site for the development of a 44 storey (mostly) residential tower back in 2007, but the scheme failed to complete due to the Homes and Communities Agency deciding it no longer represented good value for money.   The Homes and Community's Agency apparently intend to appoint a new developer to continue with the old scheme (which somewhat fails to make sense of the "not good value for money" point).

You can take a look at the most recent planning application for the site (transport related proposals) on Southwark's Planning site at 11/AP/0406.  Note that the postcode is wrong on the Southwark Planning Portal; it should be SE11 4QU. 

On a geograpically related note... Last July, Kennington People on Bikes wrote to Transport for London to check whether Toucan crossings (which allow pedestrian/cyclist use) were being installed at the junction that replaced the old Southern Elephant roundabout.  TFL confirmed that they'd install a toucan crossing, but KPOB has noticed they're installing pelicans... Naughty...

130 - 138 Newington Butts - Planning Exhibition for Affordable housing from Dolphin Square Foundation

(Image (c)Google 2010 and taken from Google Streetview)

I've received notification of a Planning Exhibition to be held by the Dolphin Square Foundation on the possibility of building (mostly social housing) on 130-138 Newington Butts, a sadly neglected commercial building squeezed between Jewson Building Yard and student accommodation.  Back in 2008, a company applied for permission to build a mixed-use development (08/02352/FUL), but withdrew the application before it had been heard.  Dolphin Square Foundation (a charity) hope to place 49 affordable homes, 30 low-rent homes and 4 private flats on the site.  The flats/houses will range from 5 storeys to 8 storeys across the site.

The exhibition about the development is to be held on Saturday 12th March at from 10:30-15:30 on site at 130-138 Newington Butts, SE11 4QU.  See posters below (click to enlarge) for more details.

Developing this piece of land is, in my view, a great idea. The site's current building has been dilapidated for years and is a real eye-sore.  There are two matters that should probably receive further consideration...  Low-rent housing is often rented through housing associations by members with children.  Newington Butts is an extremely busy intersection which receives traffic from both Kennington Lane and Kennington Park Road, and is likely to have very high levels of noise.  I'm presuming that noise could be dealt with by triple glazing, but living on a main road can be hazardous and I'd hope that play space, away from the road, was planned for children.


Sainsbury's (Nine Elms) Exhibition (redirect)

This is just a quick bookmark post to note that when I tried to attend the Sainsbury's planning exhibition last Friday at about 19:45, it was closed (I must have got the time wrong).  I did also request at PDF of slides shown at the Waterloo Community Development Group (which I presume would be similar to what was on display at the exhibition) from Jonathan Rawnsley, the Sainsbury's Development partner, but I haven't received those either.

Consequently, I'm going to point you to Tradescant Road blog post on the most recent Sainsbury's exhibition. Tradescant attended on Saturday and has posted some sketches of what might possibly be the ugliest cluster of square buildings I have ever seen (other than possibly the Bondway).  Tradescant also notes that the original plans have been amended since the last consultation...  You can read the updates at the Sainsbury's Nine Elms website here (although many of the picture links appear to be broken).

I will continue to point out that despite promises of a public square (won't we already have one of those over at CLS's Vauxhall Square?), there is no additional public green space in the proposal.  There is a cleverly worded piece on the Sainsbury's website which reads as follows:
"We have listened to the feedback that we have received. One of the important messages that we heard was that people valued open space when new homes are provided. Therefore we have removed one residential block since our first exhibition and increased the level of green space for the enjoyment of residents."
It is extremely important to note that in their feedback to the first consultation, people requested and valued "open" space. Yet, Sainsbury's are providing green space that will only be available for the enjoyment of residents in their new blocks.  Bearing in mind the rumours of the shrinking size of the Nine Elms linear park, and the dearth of green space beteween Vauxhall Park and Battersea Park and the Bondway being refused on grounds of lack of green space, it seems immensly foolish to me to attempt a planning proposal that contains no green space for the enjoyment of both new and current residents.  At the KOV meeting last month, I bumped into somebody who mentioned performing social work with residents on the Wandsworth Road, and noted that people are unaware of the high levels of deprivation and poverty in that area.  Providing a "residents only" roof garden (in spite of other provisions for a learning centre) is not a positive commitment to the area from a developer with a "responsible" reputation such as Sainsbury's.  Enough said.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

New scarecrows for Cottington Community Garden

Back in February, there was a furore on Twitter, as Cottington Community Garden Centre declared that it's scarecrow, J-Lo had been stolen.  Despite plenty of folk putting the word around, she was never recovered, so they've had to obtain two new scarecrows. (What's the plural of scarecrow?).

If you wish to attend the unveiling of the two new "royal residents" (that provides a big clue), there will be a scarecrow unveiling and a greenhouse launch on Saturday 2nd April at 12pm at Cottington Community Garden (Opal Street, SE11).  More info here.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

New Covent Garden Market Exhibition (photos all viewable from booklet)

(Image taken from p23&24 of The Garden at New Covent Garden Market Public Exhibition March 2011 Booklet )

Just a quick note to say that I dropped into the New Covent Garden Market exhibition in Nine Elms / Battersea today.  Had I known that all of the exhibition boards (including photos) were available from this booklet online, I might not have made the trek!  However, if you want to see the photos in their huge blown-up form, it might be worth a trip.  I was also given a very useful introduction to the exhibition by one of the Market's representatives on site, who noted that their plans are only in outline, and that if all goes to schedule the proposals will be submitted to Wandsworth Council this summer (2011) and decided at a Planning Committee to be held at the end of 2011.  (Clearly, that's a big "if", but maybe Wandsworth are very proactive).  If the development went ahead, building works would likely start some time in 2013.

I might add further comments on the New Covent Garden plans at some stage.  Most controversially, they're selling off the Flower Market, currently sited at Vauxhall to pay for a new combined wholesale and flower market on the Nine Elms site.  On the old flower market, there are plans for two very tall towers, billed as the "gateway" to the linear park (which is interesting, considering I vaguely thought that Vauxhall Square (CLS) was billed in the same way.  Considering that we're doomed to end up with all of these towers, a few more won't make any difference, right?

Folk from the Vauxhall end may be disappointed that many of the outlines in their book didn't contain any of the towers that are currently proposed eg. Vauxhall Tower (CLS) or Vauxhall Island site (Kylun) or Bondway.  Their diagrams only show the buildings that have been agreed, so it's tricky to imagine from the images how it might look if all of the proposed developments were present.

Friday, 4 March 2011

A musical interlude - Evensong at St Peter's

A Lurking about SE11 reader has emailed details of Choral Services at St Peter's Vauxhall, sung by the St Peter's Singers.  They're currently held on the 4th Sunday of each month at 6:30pm. 

Our correspondent notes that members of the public do not have to be religious to attend Evensong.  It is open to all, free of charge and wine is served afterwards.  The organisers hope to offers a quiet reflective opportunity for participants to listen to a beautiful choir.  The standard is apparently very high.

See more details on the poster below:

The ever onward march of Tesco - application for expansion at main Kennington store

Tesco continue their ongoing march towards world domination with a request for planning permission to expand their ground floor at their largest SE11 store on Kennington Lane.  See
11/00263/FUL.  You have until 10th March to comment.  The site would need a new pedestrian crossing and pick up point, but the expansion would cause the loss of 41 car parking spaces.  It's an interesting move because it looks as though they're either presuming that much custom will move online or come from people who live within walking distance of the store... or...?

Well, the other possibility is that they'll expand on the currently empty piece of land opposite their site, and located next to the Beefeater distillery.  I can't remember whether they own the land next to the distillery, but I think they might.  There's a 1999 planning application that was withdrawn prior to submission,  99/02207/FUL, which shows the street record for Gasholder Place (an original name for a street) with an application submitted by Tesco.  I wonder whether there's a possibility they'll decrease the size of the car park, increase the size of the current store and then claim that there isn't enough parking, so look to expand on the empty land on the other side of Gasholder place?  It's a heavily residential area so I doubt residents would support additional parking, but if my guesswork is close, it's potentially a clever way of expanding the Tescopoly.

Also, I mentioned a while ago that Tesco have plans to open a new metro store in Kennington Park Business Centre and Caldwell Street (opposite Vassall Road).  One local resident asked that I publicise a petition requesting that the Council refuses permission for future expansion.  If you don't support the continued expansion, you might want to sign here

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Robbery on Kennington Park Road on 27th February - appeal for witnesses

Lambeth Police are appealing for witnesses to a robbery that occurred last Sunday (27 February) at 1am on Kennington Park Road. 

A white man in his thirties (6'2" in height, bald head, large build, wearing a navy blue top) attacked a couple who were on their way home from a glam rock fancy dress party.  The female member of the couple was knocked to the ground, and her male partner fought off the attacker who fled the area.

At that point, the couple were confronted by four black men (in their twenties) who demanded a mobile phone.  The male victim defended himself again and fought with one of the men who he managed to chase away.  At the same time, another one of the attackers took the bag of the female victim which had fallen to the floor in the earlier attack.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call DC Michael Quinlan of Lambeth Borough police who is investigating this case on 020 8649 2478. Alternatively you can report information anonymously to Crime stoppers on 0800 555 111. 

The police appeal can be found here.

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