Friday, 30 May 2008

About us - why Fight The Height?

Fight The Height was originally founded by Cleveland Park Residents' Association but now has members from all over Walthamstow. What brings us together is our opposition to the tower block planned for the "Arcade" site (on the corner of High Street and Hoe Street) and to the many other tower blocks planned for Walthamstow, such as the ones currently being fought by Blackhorse Action Group.
The general problem with tower blocks in Walthamstow is that they're out of place in an area that's typically low-rise, two- and three-storey Victorian houses. Plus no-one wants to live in them - according to a recent survey by the Architecture Commission, less than one per cent of people would live by choice in a tower block. What's more, the main argument in favour of tower blocks is that we need high density housing, but there are better alternatives - as explained in this interview with the experts from The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment.
There are a couple of other reasons why the Arcade tower block in particular - which developer St Modwen and LBWF council plan to be around 18 storeys - would be disastrous for central Walthamstow. For starters, it will contain a massive Primark, which would put many small shops and traders on Walthamstow Market out of business. And it is also due to include a VUE multiplex cinema... and while Walthamstow certainly needs a cinema, the right place for it is undoubtedly the highly listed EMD/Granada two doors away. A multiplex in the Arcade development would be the final nail in the coffin for plans to get the beautiful EMD reopened.
What do we propose instead? Put simply, we think the council - which owns the land - needs to go back to the drawing board. And this time it needs to: a) genuinely involve the community in the design process; b) come up with a low-rise design that includes facilities that the community wants and needs; and c) balance the need to recoup money from the site with the need for a quality development that residents want - right now the council is simply planning to sell to the highest bidder!
[Many thanks to the Walthamstow Guardian for the use of the photo. It was taken by David Edwards and is copyright Newsquest]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was born into a tower block in 1964. Hightown Towers Thornhill Southampton, top floor (13. My only vision of the outside world was a window i wasnt tall enough to see out of. My first memory of being on the ground is around 5 years old. the social isolation during formative years has taken thrrty years to deal with. I had a good mother so fotunately wasn't totally messed up by the experience. I am now 44 living in Australia. Please don't make the same mistakes again, history is there to be learned from and not so we can repeat what we know doesnt work. Peter