Thursday, 17 September 2009

Cabinet get another Turkey ready for Christmas

Adrian Stannard [Waltham Forest Civic Society] provides us with a window on the Council Grotto, determined as ever to serve us with the lowest common denominator fare, no matter how inappropriate or unsound.

The Cabinet split along party lines this evening when the Liberals declined to support this report (attached) . The vote 6 Labour to 4 Liberals meant the report was passed and the council will look for a developer for the Arcade site which will include a swimming pool and cinema.
The Scutiny Committee raised 3 issues
1. A feasibility study was needed and a full financial appraisal before the proposals are progressed any further.
2. A feasibility study is needed inorder to assess whether the provision of a swimming pool/leisure centre would fulfil the role of an "anchor" tenant.
3. Any decisions concerning the Arcade site should be delayed until the current contractural agreement with St Modwen's has expired and the conclusions of the Healthy Living Hub exercise are reported to Cabinet in January 2010.

Cllr Sullivan, Chair of Scrutiny, said the council was heading for massive deficits and the Arcade proposals were unaffordable and "damn reckless".

Cllr Wheeler said these points were covered in his report and it was easy to find reasons not to proceed. "We know we have a package that will work". Financial arrangements will work but are "novel". It was necessary to move on otherwise the opportunity is lost.

Cllr Macklin was concerned at the interweaving of the Arcade site and the Pool & Track, whereas sports provision needed to be improved. Work should stop on the Arcade site plans and the council should focus on the other major issues that are looming. Taking the pool away still leaves the track to be managed.

Those in the public gallery gave a resounding support to Cllr Macklin's speech but were silent at the end of Cllr Wheeler.

Adrian Stannard

There have been an unfeasable number of feasability studies done so far, and yet so much of what has reached the planning stage has been utter tosh. It is time to take a step back, ignore the political / election driven imperatives to be seen to be doing something, anything, it doesn't matter what it is, and reconsider the vision for the whole town centre, including the EMD cinema.

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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

“And the wooden spoon goes to…”

................…St Modwen and the Arcade site scheme”.

It’s not all hard slog and protesting for Fight The Height’s foot soldiers. On Sunday 13th September at The Rose and Crown in Hoe Street their hard work was handsomely recognised. In front of an enthusiastic audience, FTH received a special commendation from Capacities Ltd for its ongoing Arcade Site campaign and on hand to receive a framed certificate and a wooden spoon was the group’s secretary, Barry Coidan.

The award ceremony was part of the first Ceausescu Awards run by Capacities Ltd, an educational agency promoting better participation of citizen in the design and management of city amenities. These “bad building prizes” are named after a remark made by Boris Johnson during his 2008 Mayoral campaign in which he accused his opponent of encouraging “Ceausescu – like projects”. Steve Butters, the agency’s director, addressed the audience for a few minutes to explain the agency’s aim and why Waltham Forest Council’s Arcade site scheme would have made Nicolae and Elena proud.

Other shortlisted projects, characterised by oppressive scale, bulldozed planning and architectural hype, included the Peninsula Square in Greenwich, Dalston Square in Hackney, the Aldgate Union Tower in Tower Hamlets and Newham’s Queens Market at Upton Park. Dalston Square won the golden spoon award with Queens Market scooping the silver spoon.

And the fight goes on. Our Council is still pursuing a major development on the Arcade site which would include a substantial tower – albeit financed by the Council Tax payers rather than private speculators. The Arcade site is now paved over: the Council belatedly seeking our views on what should fill the temporary open space. Anyone at the Day of Action in support of the EMD Cinema at the Rose and Crown would have seen the huge response to Fight The Height’s postcard project offering alternative uses for the Arcade site. We’ll happily share Waltham Forest’s residents’ ideas with our Council – if they have a big enough post bag!
If you’re intrigued by the Ceausescu awards and/or Capacities Ltd you can contact them at

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St Modwen Give Back Handers?

It has been scurrilously reported in this Guardian article

and this Telegraph article

that St Modwen, those fine, upstanding, members of the urban development community, protectors of architectural heritage, and bastions of sustainable living, offered bribes to those Phoenix Four scallywags.

I'm sure its just some sort of misunderstanding kind of thing; not so much a bribe as offering money to important officials to help them see complex decisions in a more straightforward and simple way. [So, definitely not a bribe then]

I am sure that when a thorough investigation is done, the reputation of those excellent St Modwen chaps will remain.

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Wednesday, 2 September 2009

How to object to the Cinema plans

Please visit

Or come to the Day Of Action on the 13th! (see below)

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