Tuesday 24 April 2012

Mansion House Pub seeks seven day opening until 4am

You'll all be pleased to hear that a new pub is to open in Kennington (or, perhaps I should more accurately say, Newington, but more on that later) just next door to the Old Red Lion.   Mansion House Pub (46 - 48 Kennington Park Road) is to re-open (allegedly some time in May, although they'll need to get a move-on if the scaffolding is anything to go by).  Theoretically, it's good news.  The pub plans to specialise in Real Ale and "pan-Asian cuisine" (I confess I'm a tad sceptical about the cuisine... would you ever visit Toulouse Lautrec if they said they offered pan-European food?  Possibly not.)  But a new pub/restaurant beats an empty building, and new jobs are good for the area so you might tell me to quit whinging.  You all miss my whinging, right?

I predicted some time ago when the Old Red Lion were opening that two pubs would be unfeasible on account of the fact that the Public House business has become mired in regulation (smoking ban) and taxation (on just about bogging everything), and a lot of people (judging by the top deck of my bus) prefer to drink straight from a can of Tesco's lager...  Also, Kennington is stuffed full of pubs at present, and it's hardly THAT far to walk between the Old Red Lion and the White Bear Theatre Pub, is it?  Sid Boggle (a reader here at Lurking) has heard heard that the pub might be named Oaka, presumably because the company that owns it is named Oakham Ales.  How original.  Let's hope they change their mind... 

The local SE11 public might rather hope they'll change their mind about something else too.  That is, the opening hours.  If you go and take a look at the hoarding outside, and you happen to be 8 feet tall (I am not joking), you will see that the Oaka or Mansion House or whatever it's called is applying for licencing hours from 7am to 4am.  What, just on Saturday nights?  Umm, nope.  That would be EVERY NIGHT.  If you don't believe me, you can go and read the Licencing Application on the Lambeth website.  And if that wasn't enough (because, arguably, people that drink until 4am are known for their quiet comportment), they've applied for live music licence from 10am until 3am!  Oh dear.  Clearly somebody didn't do their research.  Remember the hubub when the White Hart/Tommyfield threatened to try and open until 1am.  The Cleaver Square residents got their way, I believe.  Gosh, it would be great if a modern, suave, inner-city, urban-priest would show up at this point to protect our poor "run down" Kennington and save the day...  I wonder whether there might be the odd loose canon in the area who could lend a hand?

Fortunately, some rather tall soul has noticed this attempt to ruin our quiet residential area (ignoring the double red-route main road that never sleeps) and has scrawled in GREAT BIG letters on the hoarding "4am", so I spotted it as I strolled around the area.  Surely it's illegal to place a licencing notice so high up that nobody can actually read it?  Already a concerned reader and local resident emailed me to ask for support.  So, here is some support:

46 Kennington Park Road is in Princes Ward.  Cllr Stephen Morgan (our resident enthusiastic emailer), Cllr Mark Harrison and Cllr Lorna Campbell will no doubt only be too pleased to hear from you.  They have actually posted the news on their own blog, but judging from lack of comments, nobody is reading!  Just click on their names, and you can send them an email!  Why not email them all for good measure?  There's more information about Making A Representation re. licencing here.

I'm rather late off the mark, so you'll need to send in a response by 27th April 2012.  Be quick, and can somebody tell the Kennington Association et al?

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Major new Art Hub development for Kennington and planning permission approved for Pathways at St Anselm's

I've been sitting on this little nugget for ages, but was advised to keep it under my hat.  A year or so ago, 373 Kennington Road (currently the place in which Cactus TV studios are based) was put on the market for £2.7 million, carrying planning permission for residential development on the site.  At the time, I heard a rumour that it had been purchased by new owners who intended to turn into an art gallery, but after that, things went suspiciously quiet...

It has now been brought to my attention that Space Station Sixty Five (a gallery that is currently based in East Dulwich) plan to open a sister gallery in Kennington at 373 Kennington Road.  According to Lambeth Weekender, It will officially open in 2014, but is to host preview shows in the meantime.  The gallery directors note that it will have arts studios, a cafe, a bookshop and a retail centre (so, no residential development, it seems)!  It's being billed as a "community arts hub".  Cheekily, the directors also suggest it will put Kennington on the "London arts map", but arguably, we cornered the arts market some time ago, with the City & Guilds School of Art (Kennington Park Road), Gasworks (Vauxhall Street), Danielle Arnaud Contemporary Art (Kennington Road) and Beaconsfield Art Gallery (which is currently being expanded by Damien Hirst, in Newport Street).  Also, I think there's a new gallery planned for Tyers Street in the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.  But, it certainly will change the landscape, and bring additional arty folk to Kennington. 

If the Beefeater gin distillers ever manage to pull off their plan to convert the gin factory into a visitor centre, that quiet corner of Kennington would become a hive of activity.  I've no idea what that means for the future of the TV studio, but the site is 1,673 square metres, so it offers quite a few possibilities.  In hard times, the addition of any creative business that might provide employment should be welcomed, and in another coup for Kennington, St Anselm's Church were granted planning permission for their own Pathways project (a combined restaurant, cafe, educational, worship and community hall facility).

In less positive news, it looks as though the 216 Kennington Road Tesco is due to come to fruition soon.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Missing Cat (Cookie)

I had an email yesterday from Pierre, who lives on Monkton Street, to say that his cat, Cookie, has gone missing and has been missing since Sunday night.

In Pierre's words, he's "a very sweet and endearing cat – and we think that he is not too far from our house, just lost, confused and scared in someone’s back garden in the neighborhood." 

They've knocked on the doors of locals in St Mary’s Garden and Monkton Street and have been touched by everybody's concern.  In the meantime, has anybody seen the cat?

Thursday 26 January 2012

Beaufoy Building sold to Diamond Way Buddhism and Bellway Homes

Lambeth Council announced yesterday that a charity named Diamond Way Buddhism have exchanged contracts (not completed) with The Beaufoy Trust to purchase the Beaufoy Building and the land surrounding it on Black Prince Road.  Interestingly, at the KOV meeting yesterday, Diamond Way implied that they'd only recently been involved in the purchase and weren't involved in the earlier bidding process...  That might be worth digging deeper on.

Lambeth Council also owned the car park surrounding the Beaufoy, and contracts on this have been exchanged with Bellway Homes with plans for a residential development. 

Completion on both pieces of land will take place once planning permission has been obtained for both planned schemes.  The sale of the entire site is said to have generated £9 million, of which £7.5 will be awarded to Lambeth Council and £1.5 million to the Beaufoy Trust.  £200,000 has been earmarked for the local community, and the three ward councillors, with community input, will apparently be making the decisions about what the money should be spent on.

Diamond Way Buddhism plan to use the Beaufoy as a community facility, place of meditation/education (though not as a school) and residential accommodation. Ordinarily, they would run meditation sessions most evenings and sometimes debates.  Diamond plan a non commercial cafe for the building.  They will move in and begin work on the building and plan to open the building for tours as soon as it is safely possible.

At last night's KOV meeting, Diamond Way acknowledged that their centre would bring the total Buddhist centres in the area to three (the others are Jamyang on Renfrew Road and Kagyu Samye Dzong on Manor Place), which will make Kennington and surrounds a potential Buddhist hub.  Diamond are apparently similar to Jamyang, but differ in that Diamond are a lay organisation.  They've about 150 members in the UK, but are more popular abroad.  As soon as the news was announced, I received an email with a link through to here asking whether Diamond Way Buddhism was a cult...  Slightly worrying, but if you're concerned you can read one person's blog on the matter here and I found a somewhat wider debate over here which may not mean anything to people unless they've some idea of how Buddhism operates.

Bellway Homes plan to build 79 flats in the car park area, down from an originally proposed 89.  40% of the Bellway flats will be affordable housing, which entirely meets Lambeth's target.  As per last night's KOV meeting, they're also hoping to invest in a nearby playground.

Take a look at the diagrams from last night's meeting, if you didn't manage to make it there yourself. 

Please note that on the plan below, the grey building referred to as "Lilian Baylis Secondary School" is actually the Beaufoy!

The following are the plans and sketches from the Buddhist centre:

I've had lots of kind emails asking whether I've disappeared, so just to clarify... This is one of an occasional post that I hope to make on Lurking about SE11.  I'm not planning to blog in the same detail that I was before, but neither am I inclined to close the blog.  I've stepped back from Lurking because I feel that part of the reason that I set up the blog (to try and encourage online conversations to move offline) has not been entirely successful.  I plan to remain involved in local organisations and stay in touch with some of the fantastic people I've met, but I think it's vital to spend more time offline than online and to work on the other projects.

Friday 7 October 2011

Boris bikers beware - cycle accidents in Kennington on 6th and 7th October

Cyclists, motorists and pedestrians, please be careful on the roads. I noted some time ago that I intend to blog about all cycle accidents, mostly because I think it's very important to offer evidence to TFL on improving road safety for all users, but particularly cyclists and pedestrians.

Yesterday on 6th October 2011, at around 10:15am, a female cyclist (possibly Boris Biker) in her 20s was taken to St Thomas' hospital with minor injuries after having been involved in an accident on Albert Embankment with an ambulance.  The ambulance was flipped on to its side, but both crew members escaped with minor injuries.  It resulted in the closure of Albert Embankment for several hours yesterday.

Today (7th October 2011), a male Boris Biker heading south on Kennington Road near Kennington Cross was involved in an accident with a car.  A witness on Cycle chat noted that the cyclist was knocked unconscious, but came to by the side of the road.

Additionally, I didn't report it at the time, but on 20th September, a male cyclist was involved in an accident with an HGV lorry in Vauxhall Cross near the tube station, in which he suffered serious injuries.

Please be careful cycling through SE11.  There are some very wide and busy A-Roads running through and around Kennington, and we have numerous cycle lanes, a Cycle Superhighway and stacks of London Cycle Scheme aka. Boris Bike docks in the area.  Vauxhall Gyratory and Elephant and Castle roundabout are particularly difficult.

Ale Festival, Apple Day, Incredible Edible Festival, Urban Bees, AGMs - events this weekend and beyond

This is a late post, but I'm hoping some of you might catch it in time to attend some of the following events.  This weekend is a good one to stay south of the river unless you're inclined to join demonstrations because it's going to be tricky to get north of the river by road.  Trafalgar Square and surrounds will be unpassable on Saturday due to the Stop the War Assembly, and Westminster Bridge will be blocked on Sunday due to the anti-Health and Social Care Bill Block the Bridge event.

But there are plenty of autumnal ways to eat, drink and be merry in Kennington this weekend:

There's the Garden Museum's Incredible Edible Big Harvest Party.  The Garden Museum is over in SE1, in the old church next to Lambeth Palace.  They're celebrating local food growing with community stalls, seed bomb making, an Incredible Edible scrapbook(!?) and the opening of an insect hotel.  Visit (and bring your own seeds) on Saturday 8th October from 10:30am - 4pm

Then there's the annual autumn Roots and Shoots Apple Day 2011 where there will be over 100 different types of apple to sample, along with juicing and fruit preservation workshops.  That's at the top of Walnut Tree Walk, just off of Kennington Road.  There will also be activities for children; apple bobbing, corn dolly making, story telling etc. - This is one of my favorite days.  Go and visit on Sunday 9th October from 11am - 4pm.

Then the Old Red Lion pub (42 Kennington Park Road) Ale and Food Festival with stalls, music, a hog roast and a fine selection of ales.  It's held on Saturday 8th October and Sunday 9th October from 12 noon.

Also, some future dates for the diary...

Don't forget on Monday both the Kennington Association and the Vauxhall Civic Society are holding their AGMs on Monday 10th October (oops!).

The Kennington Association AGM will be held at the Durning Library, beginning at 6:30pm.  Their special guest is Val Shawcross, member of the London Assembly for Lambeth and Southwark.

The Vauxhall Society AGM will be held at St Stephen's Church, St Stephen's Terrace, SW8 1DH at 6.30pm to begin at 7pm.  The guest speaker will be Sue Foster, Lambeth's Director of Housing.  She'll be speaking on regenerating Vauxhall.

On Saturday 15th October, there's an Urban Bee open day and Foragers Walk, starting at noon from St Agnes Place Keeper's Lodge (in one corner of the park).

Then, on Sunday 16th October, Keyworth Primary School in Kennington (that's Faunce Street in SE17) is to be turned into a pop-up restaurant by food writer Philip Dundas in aid of "Magic Breakfast".  You'll need to book, but for £30, you'll receive a three course meal (with wine).  To attend, please RSVP philip@pip-dishes.co.uk or call 07764 336 220.  Magic Breakfast is a charity that provides free health breakfasts to schools in which over 50% of children receive free school meals and who might not otherwise eat a health breakfast.

A Little Bit of Art - Gallery in Iliffe Yard open Saturdays from 10am - 3pm

There are a number of artists studios in Iliffe Yard, just off Crampton Street in SE17.  One of them, A Little Bit of Art, is opening (alongside GAS Art Agency) on Saturday mornings, beginning tomorrow, Saturday 8th October 2011, from 10am - 3pm.  I presume they'll continue to open on Saturdays as long as there is interest.

A Little Bit of Art specialises in affordable printed artworks and you can go and visit them at 20A Iliffe Yard, SE17 3QA.

Kennington and Vauxhall are stuffed full of galleries and artists, and you can't beat visiting the places in which beautiful things are created.  Do drop in to the Electric Elephant Cafe, a tiny alternativey-feel venue that serves great coffee.  We visited ages ago, and chatted happily with the staff.  Iliffe and Crampton Streets both have a strong community spirit.  And whilst you're there, and if it's open (2pm-6pm on Saturdays), consider dropping in to 56a Crampton Street, where there's an anarchist cafe and library.

Thursday 6 October 2011

Nine Elms Sainsbury's submit plans for seven blocks of tall housing with larger store

I'm running a number of other projects in different places, so am find it difficult to keep Lurking about SE11 updated.  I'm going to try posting shorter updates with less analysis, and will run a series of quick updates...

Back in early September, Sainsbury's submitted planning permission for a huge development on their Nine Elms site, comprising seven new buildings (including 3 towers of 19, 28 and 37 storeys).  They hope to win permission for 671 residential flats and a gym, but it sounds as though it will be an entire complex of mixed-use space.  The firm plan to demolish the existing building containing the food shop (although a temporary store will be open whilst the works are taking place).  The new Sainsbury's would occupy two floors and be much larger than the previous store.

There's more information on the Sainsbury's website for the Nin Elms project here, and you can read the full planning submission (if you have a free fortnight) on Lambeth Planning database under 11/02326/OUT

Sainsbury's are including within their submission a space for a children's tutoring facility as well as an "energy centre" (clues anybody?), community floorspace (1,860 square metres), office floor space.  When I saw the original plans, they hoped to provide retail space for other non-Sainsbury's related businesses.  There will also be space for a children's playground and a new route linking Wandsworth Rd with New Covent Garden.

Tradescant Road also wrote a brief post on the submission.

Crucially, what still appears to be missing, of course, is any form of public green space.  That's how the Bondway was defeated.  But perhaps Sainsbury's is too far away from the Bondway to fall under the same ruling.  Anyhow, because I'm so late with this one, it's theoretically too late to submit comments.  I would suggest, however, that it would be worth doing so anyway, because Lambeth Council quite often consider and accept comments up until a proposal comes to be considered  by the Planning Committee.  Just click on the reference number above, and then click "submit comments".

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Beaufoy Site to become housing and Lambeth Council U-turn on Shelley site - KOV September 2011 update

The Cllr Mark Harrison (Prince Ward) had plenty to say on behalf of Lambeth Council at KOV last night, which I've broken down into six main points, as follows:

Beaufoy site
Lambeth Council had hoped the Beaufoy sale would be concluded by last night, but since it hasn't, the developer couldn't be present at the meeting due to commercial confidentiality issues. Local residents still don't know who the developer is to be. Cllr Harrison informed the meeting that the Beaufoy would be brought back into use and restored with housing brought to the site (40% to be affordable). The Beaufoy Trust will gain capital receipt to help young people into training and education, and a portion of the money they receive will be spent in the immediate area. Due to central government cutting the Council's capital grant budget by 60%, the Council are having to bridge the gap by selling off assets.

Until last night, I was optimistic that the site could be developed as part of a mixed-use education/housing site, but that is clearly no longer possible. I'm afraid I can't think of anything positive to say about this, so I will refer you to a statement made in 2006 by Cllr Sam Townend (old Labour councillor in Princes Ward) who said that Lambeth Council wanted to see:

(1) Ownership [of the Beaufoy] being taken away from the Council and handed back
to local people as trustees (obviously under the supervision of the Charity
Commission) if there is sufficient interest by local people to make this viable.
(2) A modernisation of the objects of the [Beaufoy] Trust to reflect the
educational needs of people living in Kennington and Vauxhall now.
(3) The deployment of this community asset towards the educational needs of people
living in Kennington and Vauxhall now. The way this would be done would be a
matter for the new trustees in consultation with residents of Ethelred TMO,
Vauxhall Gardens and Kennington.

I don't think there's any doubt that this represents a failure on the part of the Council. Yes, it could certainly be argued that there has been a major financial crisis and a change of government, but the Beaufoy has been empty for over 10 years, well before either the financial meltdown or the ConDems.

Shelley Site
As well as a U-turn on the Beaufoy, Lambeth Council have conceded to local pressure from the Save the Shelley School campaign and will be adding an additional 2011-2012 school class on the site, to be run by the Archbishop Sumner administration. You may remember that Lambeth Council argued the case that school places were needed in the south of the Borough, and made a statement accordingly in May 2011:

As there is no projected demand for an educational use for the Shelley site we
propose to sell the site to raise funds to help every child in Lambeth have a
primary school place in the future.
A common sense reading suggests that Lambeth Council have changed their mind. Fair enough. But in an amusing manner, the expansion is not a straightforward concession to local pressure. Indeed, the 2011-2012 Archbishop Sumner primary class is only being added because excess pressure in the south of the Borough has meant that two "bulge classes" had to be added at schools in the centre of Lambeth (it wasn't possible to add classes in the south itself), which in turn put pressure on the centre of the Borough, and pushed the "bulge" upwards, creating a "domino" effect. So the Shelley site pressure group parents' have got their own way, seemingly against the wishes of the local councillors! Feel free to read the September 2011 Scrutiny Committee minutes if you're interested.

The Scrutiny minutes even state that the VNEB expansion won't require significant additional places until 2021, but who knows? Cllr Harrison did note that the Council was taking the Shelley site's population projections very seriously. Anyhow, having added a bulge class for 2011-2012, the bulge has to progress upwards throughout the school, so it will be nearly impossible to free up the Shelley site for six years! The Council are clear that there's no permanent funding for expanding Archbishop Sumner, but Cllr Harrison noted that it does keep the options open for the time being, and that much depends on what Southwark Council have planned because Archbishop Sumner could also be affected by a domino affect across the border due to the development of Elephant and Castle. All very complicated predictions...

Also, read those minutes carefully, and note too that a German-English bilingual free school seem to have made an application/expression of interest on the Shelley site, of which an outcome will be made known this month. Could it be that Lambeth Council is adding the bulge class to Archbishop Sumner (rather than, say Vaxuhall School) to prevent their site being purchased by a free school? If a Free School wanted to purchase the site, the Council would not be able to sell and claim their sought-after capital receipt, as the site would be tied up in Free school battles for years. Hmm. Very interesting, eh?

Black Prince Trust
The Black Prince Trust is close to finalising their lease on Site A of the old Lilian Baylis school. Site A comprises sports facilities which will be run by Sports Action Zone, which was handed over by Lambeth Council into a public trust earlier in the year. Work will start on the new gym once the lease has been finalised. The Council is concluding its selection of the developer for Site B, (that part of the school site to be sold off, including listed buildings). Work is being undertaken with community groups using the current site to help find them alternative accommoddation. eg. Your Story will be housed in the shops at Lambeth Walk.

Stock Tranfer for Ethelred Estate
There will be a ballot on Stock Transfer to a Housing Association for the Ethelred Estate which, if it went ahead, could unlock £100 million of investment into the Ethelred Estate and other Lambeth estates. The Association proposed is the only tenant lead housing association in the country.

Linear Park for Tyers Street
Cllr Harrison is, with VGERTA, looking at the posibility of turning Tyers Street into a linear park. This would certainly ease some of the green-space deficiency in the north of the Borough, and since all of the coaches were moved on, the streets seems to be under-parked. The proposal is still at a very early stage. Email your thoughts to Cllr Harrison mharrison@lambeth.gov.uk or Chrys (VGERTA Secretary) vgerta.secretary@gmail.com

VNEB Manifesto
Finally, Lambeth Labour have assembled a VNEB "manifesto". Technically, that's party-political, so I'm going to direct you to the document that was handed out by Councillors at the KOV meeting and likely say no more until election time.

Planning updates on Kylun Towers and 8 Albert Embankment - KOV meeting September 2011

Tall Building and silhouette Image taken from http://www.silhouettesclipart.com/
A full agenda for the Kennington Oval Vauxhall Forum, which kicked off with apologies/reasons for absence from TFL and Treasury Holdings.

Absence by TFL re. the Vauxhall gyratory plans:
Lambeth Council are leading on a visionary exercise which will precede any other work by TFL. Carolyn Dwyer, Divisional Director of Public Realm, is the contact concerning the visioning work at Lambeth Council. Once the Council have undertaken their consultation, TFL will be able to present further on the future of the gyratory. [You can read my last post about Vauxhall gyratory options here.]

Absence by Treasury Holdings re. the Northern Line Extension:
Treasury Holdings' current consultation on the NLE finishes at the end of September and they can't release information prior to sign off and analysis, so there's nothing to add until that point. [The most recent statement on the NLE adds little to the discussion, but can be found on the TH site.]

Vauxhall Island Site - Kylun Towers
In other news, the developer Kylun have appealed, concerning their proposed Towers, to the Secretary of State against Lambeth Council on account of non-determination. To read the plans for the Kylun Island site in the middle of Vauxhall, see here. Vauxhall Society recently wrote a rather withering post on Lambeth's inability to come to any decision at all about the site for a whole 13 months. The Kylun discussion will go to committee on 18th October and there's still time to make submissions. Apparently, the hearing won't be held until April 2012.

Cllr Jane Edbrooke emailed me a few weeks ago with Lambeth Council's "official line" on Kylun which comes from a Lambeth Council "spokesman":

"We have already made clear to the developer that we are refusing their current application and we’re surprised by their comments and actions. Senior Cabinet Members met with the partners of Kylun Towers in July and were very clear about Lambeth’s expectations for the site. It is crucial that the development is to the benefit of the established local community and general public realm and these aspirations must be met in any planning application."

8 Albert Embankment - Fire Brigade Site
I posted back in August about a re-submitted planning application for 8 Albert Embankment which contained a few changes on the previous application. However, it often takes a while for community groups to notice certain applications and to get organised, and as you can see from the comments of the August post, that is the case concerning 8 Albert Embankment and Whitgift TRA.

Last night at KOV, we heard an eloquent and impassioned plea from the residents of Whitgift House of Whitgift Tenants and Residents Association who are concerned about the impact of the 14 and 22 storey towers on their homes and Lambeth High Street Recreation Ground. Whitgift House is the building which would be most impacted by the re-development of 8 Albert Embankment. In winter months, the ground floor and first floor of Whitgift House would only get one hour of sunlight each day. Their "anti"campaign is, they noted, supported by Cllr Mark Harrison, Cllr Steve Morgan and Kate Hoey MP. All residents in Whitgift Hosue have signed up to the campaign against 8 Albert Embankment, and indeed, every resident (excepting one) has put in an objection to the development.

The TRA's main objections concern over-shadowing, blocking of the light, too much parking and low levels of social housing in the development. Whitgift residents wanted a third assessment on the light issues, but after speaking to Planning Aid, they've been told there's no point as Lambeth Council have performed their own assessment. The Council's assessment says the minimum standards have been transgressed but that that's fine for Whitgift House because they're within an urban environment! There are only 25 flats in Whitgift House. Additionally, residents are arguing that 8 Albert Embankment falls within Vauxhall Conservation area, containing amongst other bits and pieces, the Royal Daulton Building and thus arguably constitutes a separate area from the rest of "main" Vauxhall where tall building has been ear-marked by the Mayor. (Whether this will work is debatable on account of the permision granted to 81 Black Prince Road, but we shall see...).

Thursday 1 September 2011

Funding awarded to Lady Margaret Hall Settlement and Vauxhall Gardens Community Centre

Well done to Lady Margaret Hall Settlement (north Lambeth charity, currently based at Mowll Street in SW9) and Vauxhall Gardens Community Centre who have been granted monies from Capital Community Foundation to run various projects in the area. Take a look at the news section of their blog for more info.

LMHS won their monies to run a business training course for their All Sewn Up students to enable them to set up their own businesses. They'll also be running ESOL food/hygiene courses in conjunction with the currently centre-less Portuguese Community Centre.

Vauxhall Gardens Community Centre have won a grant to enable them to run a Memories Project in the area, aimed at older people. I look forward to being able to link to their findings.

Readers might also might like to know about the following LMHS courses running this term (all cost £125). If you're not personally interested, you might consider forwarding these to members of the local community whom you think might benefit:

Clothes Making courses:
6.45pm - 9.15pm (Monday evenings) beginning 19th September and running for 11 weeks
10.00am - 12.30pm (Friday mornings) beginning 23rd September and running for 11 weeks

Soft Furnishing courses:
10.00am -12.30pm (Thursday mornings) beginning 22nd September and running for 11 weeks
1.00pm - 3.30pm (Thursday afternoons) beginning 22nd September and running for 11 weeks
6.45pm - 9.15pm (Thursday evenings) beginning 22nd September and running for 11 weeks

For further information on any of the courses, call 020 7793 1110 or email mailto:admin@lmhs.org.ukwho are based at Unit 1, 11 Mowll Street, SW9 6BG. Nearest tube Oval.

One Nine Elms in Vauxhall by Green Properties: New development of the week

Hello, good morning, and welcome to, yes.... another tower consultation!

Today's new development is brought to you by the owners, Green Property, and imaginatively titled "One Nine Elms" on account of it being placed on the site of the current 22-storey Market Towers at 1, Nine Elms Lane.   The building will be a re-development as it's not currently an empty site, but the leaflet below indicates that the office tower has become "outdated", and I think most would agree that it is a bit dingy:

© Copyright Thomas Nugent and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

I cannot mask my excitement about another tower, but sadly, there aren't really any published details on the development as yet.  All they say is that they hope to be a gateway to the new linear park, which is similar, I think to something Vauxhall Square developers claimed, what with their proposed twin towers appearing to form a mouth at the entrance to the linear park.

All we know is that Green Property hope their proposals will create an "urban oasis" which will deliver new homes, jobs and local amenities.  Since 30-60 South Lambeth Road already suggested the swimming pool (in what is already likely to be an interesting battle), and Vauxhall Island site proposing the cinema (although the developers their have suddenly gone quiet), One Nine Elms will have to come up with some even more interesting amenities.  Perhaps a bowling alley!  Ha!  We'll find out soon, since Green Property intend to submit a planning application to Wandsworth "later this year", which doesn't leave a lot of time to consult.

Anyhow, the dates/times as follows:

Thursday 15th September, 4pm - 7pm
Saturday 17th September, 10am - 2pm

Venue will be Ground Floor, Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane, London, SW8 5NQ

Once the consultation has taken place, they'll have a website http://www.onenineelms.co.uk/ which you'll be able to visit in case you can't make it, along with the usual crew, to scrutinise shiny posters and point at miniature plastic models of Vauxhall.


Wednesday 31 August 2011

Un-co-operative Lambeth Council: Friends of Lollard Street Adventure Playground, Kennington found it closed this morning

Playground closed sign taken from http://2.bp.blogspot.com/__oAMmP-IOX4/S5e56iBSsCI/AAAAAAAACQo/JqdqMBHPpq4/s320/Playground_Closed_by_sullivan1985.jpg
I'd just like to draw readers' attention to a letter on Lollard Street Adventure Playground published on the Kennington Association news blog this morning from Anna Tapsell who is both chair of the Kennington Association (KA) and Treasurer of the Friends of Lollard Street Adventure Playground (FOLSAP).
FOLSAP have been working for some time to prevent the closure of Lollard Street Adventure Playground and to think about how it might be run in future, given the reality of Council cuts.

It seems, according to the letter, that the Council agreed at a meeting on June 16th that £45,000 was available to potentially be allocated to a local management group were they to put forward a viable business plan.  FOLSAP report that they did develop a business plan, but were later told at a meeting on 18th August that, contrary to the previous information, £45,000 would not be available to a local management project. 

Clearly the Lollard Street Adventure playground project had to go to tender, but FOLSAP are alleging that their experience with the Council has not been one of co-operation.  Given that our Co-operative council are not appearing terribly co-operative, perhaps constituents of other councils should take heed.  FOLSAP say the process began too late and that councillors/officers have presented mixed and non-transparent messages.  They raise a question as to the "propriety of the tender process"

In Lambeth, the letter asserts, having such playgrounds open is a "safeguarding issue", given that many parents leave their children there in place of after-school care.  Most worryingly, when Ms Tapsell visited the playground this morning, she found:
"just a scrawled ungrammatical note pinned to the gate saying that it would be closed this week. No explanation or other information about when it might be open. Two little boys were there with their table tennis bats. Their parents were back at work."

Additionally, the playground will now, according to the letter, only be open for one session on a weekday!  It won't be open on Saturdays at all.  Back on 7th April, at the KOV meeting, Cllr Harrison re-assured local residents that Lollard Street Adventure Playground would not be closing.   Arguably, one could liken a playground that runs for only one session a week to a closure in everything but name. Moreover, there are still questions to be asked about why it's closed this week, and why no information is available concerning its re-opening.  Indeed, opening the playground for such limited hours is likely to lead to it becoming less popular.  See the case of the Kennington Park Adventure playground in which two playgrounds will merge on to one smaller site to make way for housing, given alleged non-use of the land... where is it?  Ahh, yes, this is what I wrote back in September 2010:
The defence offered (by the architect) in favour of consolidating the [Kennington Park] site was that the One O'Clock club only opens for 3 hours per day for 4 days per week.  The One O'Clock club is apparently "not well used" (at peak times, the architect suggested that 20 children use it)...
Even more worrying, given recent civil unrest near these parts, is Lambeth's failure to understand that adventure playgrounds are a public place off the streets for children and young people to gather.  To fail to allow local organisations any say in the supposedly mutual process of running facilities is distinctly un-co-operative and short changes residents.  Short-term cost cutting of youth services will likely only lead to further social unrest.  A recent report from the Department of Education notes that a quarter of excluded primary school students expelled in 2009-2010 were from Lambeth.  There's no point in having police officers visit primary schools to warn children away from gang life if no alternative facilities are in place for their use and their parents are not at home to supervise on account of being at work.

It would be really good to see whether our MP still has any teeth when it comes to influencing the local authority and working for the good of less-affluent north Lambeth residents.

Monday 22 August 2011

Consultation for Vauxhall Swimming pool and student apartments on 30 - 60 South Lambeth Road

(Image retrieved from Google Maps 22nd August 2011 ©Google 2011)

(Image taken from developer Downing's Vauxhall site)

A two day consultation event will be held in September concerning a planning application on 30 - 60 Lambeth Road, SW8 for 580 student apartments and leisure use, including a 20m x 9m swimming pool!! The site is waste ground at present and used for car storage, so it won't be missed. The complex would be located almost opposite Vauxhall Park.

The suggestion of a swimming pool has been raised repeatedly by local residents and is an exciting possiblity, but we know from other sources that swimming pools are very expensive for local authorities to run (with real costs per visit in the region of £12) so we'll have to see what happens... It's not clear whether it would be a council-run facility or a private facility which would be open to local residents.

The commerical property developer, Downing would be developing the site, and according to Oval News, want to submit a planning application in Autumn 2011. The good old Labour councillors of Oval Ward didn't mention the swimming pool aspect on their blog, which is strange, but maybe they didn't spot it... The developers even have a Vauxhall blog up and running for plans concerning their new site: http://www.downingvauxhall.blogspot.com/

According to the information I've seen, the swimming pool would be at lower ground-level, visible from South Lambeth Road (could be interesting if they move the bus station there), with the student housing on upper floors. The information I have doesn't mention how high the planned building will be (it mentions the fourth floor, but no higher). They'd have to go some way to beat proposals such as the defeated Bondway and the St George Wharf Tower... I think the development falls within the VNEB development area.

The consultation will be held at Vauxhall Christian Centre (105 Tyers Street, SE11) on Thursday 8th September (4pm - 8pm) and Saturday 10th September (11am - 4pm).

This is a consultation not to miss! Perhaps they're hoping that the swimming pool suggestion will entice locals so much that we will completely fail to notice that student accomodation can be disruptive for local residents... To be fair though, there isn't much residential housing nearby (Langley Lane and Lawn Lane perhaps). Surely it wouldn't present residents with greater disturbance than that currently presented by patrons of Fire though?

Edit 22:02 on 22nd August: Vauxhall Society have since published their article on 30-60 South Lambeth Road which is apparently proposed at "32-storey or so" (would be useful to have that clarified). I didn't know that the building was proposed to be that high when I wrote my article so I have not put their negative slant on it. I'm sort of resigned to Vauxhall turning into Sky Scraper corner now. I reckon Downing will ask for 32 storeys and be granted about 25. Obviously, a tower that tall is likely to cast shadows over Vauxhall Park, which will probably cue a renewed "shadows over the park" debate. However, I'm inclined to think more local people will be swayed by the swimming pool than they will be the shadows argument, so kudos to Downing for being quite clever with this proposal. Kylun want the Triangle site to contain a 41 storey tower, and all we'll get is a cinema and champagne bar. Downing only want 32 storeys and local residents will get a whole swimming pool...! Anyhow, readers MUST go and check out Vauxhall Society's article because somebody has a lovely way with words. They say:

"Isn’t the ‘street scene’ perhaps animated enough around Vauxhall Cross, some might ask, without drivers being distracted by kerbside vistas of aquatic romping?"
I'm rather in favour of a slightly reduced tall tower (25 sounds reasonable, right?) but I definitely support the aquatic romping. Vauxhall rather lacks aquatic romping at present...

New St George Wharf Pier at Vauxhall to open mid-September

I had a nice little post planned for this morning on the new pier at St George Wharf in Vauxhall, but the lovely Tradescant Road blog has pipped me to the post, accusing me of *horrified shriek* edging my way into his SW8 patch! I am so naughty... But who wants to let a small matter of a postcode interfere with interesting local goings on? So, do go and read his post, where he has purloined some photos taken from the pier itself looking back towards St George's Wharf.

You'll see above two unique photos, (captured by my fair hand on Friday night in the face of hundreds of bemused drinkers from Oval cricket ground). The pier isn't quite finished yet and is still boarded off from the general public . I think it needs a few finishing touches as there appeared to be a bit of building detritus still in place. Naturally, I've done a bit of digging and have been told that the pier is to open officially in the middle of September.

Thames Clipper Services will run from the pier and frequency of boats will also be announced in mid-September. Oyster Pay as You go card holders will receive a 10% discount on Clipper tickets and travelcard passengers are entitled to 1/3 off of Clipper prices. I've not been able to determine whether any other services will use the pier, but I'm pretty excited about its opening...

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