Friday, 27 June 2008

Boris advisor: Towers will not be allowed in inappropriate locations

Good news: We had feared that Boris Johnson was about to backtrack on his pre-election pledges to oppose tower blocks in low-rise suburban London. But yesterday his senior planning advisor Sir Simon Milton said tower blocks must fit into the "local context" and will not be allowed in inappropriate locations, even if they have "wow-factor architecture". He said Boris will favour "high-density development" but not necessarily "high rise".
Read the full story in the Evening Standard.

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Wednesday, 25 June 2008

ITV coverage of our demo

At last... here's the ITV coverage of our first demo (on 1st June). Sorry, it took ages for someone to find the time to do all the technical stuff to put it online! But if you haven't seen it already, it is worth the wait.
If the video is jerky then we recommend hitting play, then hitting pause for a moment, and then play again.

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Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Planning Magazine story

Planning Magazine recently ran a little diary piece on our June 1st demo, which you can read here. You need to subscribe to read the whole thing - or just click on "Read more..." below where we have pasted a copy of the story.

Diary - Planning, 13 June 2008
Developers got a fruity local response over retail plans for Walthamstow town centre last week.
More than 200 residents, using tomatoes supplied by local traders, pelted effigies of the developers behind plans for a major scheme in north-east London.
Residents and market traders are up in arms over St Modwen's proposals for an 18-storey tower, a Primark store and a Vue multiplex cinema. The site is directly next to Europe's longest daily open market.
"The development will cast a shadow over Walthamstow, devastate the market and kill off any hope of bringing back our cinema," says Caramel Quin, co-founder of the Fight the Height campaign. It is calling on the developers and the London Borough of Waltham Forest, which owns the site, to reconsider the proposals.
"This is being done to 'regenerate' the area, according to the council and St Modwen. If they won't reconsider, we'll be asking mayor Boris Johnson to call them in," Quin adds. Could this see the first test of Johnson's election pledge to veto tall buildings?

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Sunday, 8 June 2008

Please help our sister campaign!

Friends of Queens Market are also fighting St Modwen, the developers behind the Walthamstow Arcade tower block plans. And they are fighting to save their own historic East End market (Queens Market in Upton Park) from being blighted as a result! In short, we have lots in common and we must help each other...
St Modwen has recently submitted a planning application for Queens Market. And it will see tower blocks of up to 30 storeys, while the market is halved in size. Increased rents for stallholders will mean collosal changes to this ethnically diverse market that helps huge numbers of families on low incomes eat healthy food. (Sound familiar? it'll be Walthamstow market that's threatened by St Modwen's next planning application!)
Anyway, FoQM have checked with Newham council, and it turns out that residents from other boroughs can send in objections to the plans. Please download the two files below, which make it very quick and easy to object, and SEND YOUR OBJECTION TODAY!
And when it's our turn to fight a planning application from St Modwen - which could be very soon indeed - we hope that the good people of Upton Park will return the favour.
FoQM objection info
Objection letter template

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Giant town square telly approved :-(

The bad news is that this week the council planning committee ignored public opinion (39 letters of objection and a number of public speakers) and approved plans for the Olympic-funded giant telly in Walthamstow Town Square, backing on to the children's play area.
The only tiny bits of good news are that...
1) Rather than being there forever, the screen only has planning permission from this summer till summer 2012, after the London Olympics. So if it's unpopular, too loud, vandalised or otherwise a failure then we can hope the council won't grant planning permission for it to stay.
2) The insanely long operating hours of 7am till 11pm every day of the year were not approved. Instead the applicant will have to come up with revised operating hours and return to the planning committee with them for approval. So we will have the opportunity to lobby for shorter hours (i.e. only switch it on when there's something genuinely worth watching!) and for the sound to only be switched on when appropriate. This would also result in energy savings - by our estimates, the screen would have the same carbon footprints as 59 households if switched on for the proposed 18 hours a day.
Oh, and finally, one councillor made a big thing of the fact that there weren't many people in the public gallery - suggesting that this meant no-one cared! We don't really see why people should have to spend their evening watching a council meeting, at which they're not allowed to speak, in order to prove that they care. But if this is the way that the councillors see it (i.e. they might have even voted differently if they had a bigger audience) then it's essential that a huge number of us turn up when it comes to the planning applications for tower blocks in Blackhorse Road, the Arcade site, etc.

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Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Please join BAG... now!

It takes 2 seconds to fill in an online form to join Blackhorse Action Group and to give them your comments on the insane overdevelopment planned for the area. The plans include 10 tower blocks, the tallest of which will be 23 storeys (230 feet).
So please visit the Blackhorse Action Group website and sign up now!
And also check out the BAG Flickr page where they have posted yet more fab pics from Sunday's demo. Are we the world's most photographed (and photogenic) protestors or what?!

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Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Indymedia demo coverage and Evening Standard article

Do read this Indymedia story, including yet more fab pics of Sunday's demo. Many thanks to Peter Marshall for coming along (and for letting us use this pic).
Also forgot to post a link to this Evening Standard feature from last week that singles the Arcade out as one of the tower block proposals that Boris Johnson may veto.

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Monday, 2 June 2008

Pics from Sunday's demo

Thanks to the 200+ of you who turned up on Sunday for the tomato-chucking and the TV cameras! And thank you to the countless residents who emailed with their support - it's great to know that we have even more supporters (and we're going to need you all when it comes to fighting these tower block plans!)
Many thanks to photographers Nick Watts and Tom Glendining for the pics. And of course huge thanks to Alan, Tina and Rowena for being game enough to have tomatoes chucked at them.
Finally, before this turns into an Oscars speech, we mustn't forget to thank the London Borough of Waltham Forest and St Modwen Properties Plc, not to mention their allies Primark and VUE Cinemas. Without their hideous, market-killing proposed tower block development, none of this would have been possible...
We have uploaded a few more pics from the protest - click on "Read More..." below to see them. (Oh and if you're from the media and need print quality pics, email us!)

And here are the rest of our favourite pics...

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BBC coverage of Sunday's demo

Will post the ITV news story too, as soon as we have time! Or if anyone else has recorded it and has time to stick it on YouTube and send us the link, that'd save us a job...
Oh and as ever with YouTube, if the video is jerky then we recommend hitting play, then hitting pause for a moment, and then play again.

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