Southwark residents in the Blackfrairs Rd area have had enough of the Council's approach to planning - and are ready to block traffic in protest!
Southwark Council has spent the past decade inviting planning applications from big developers for tall buildings along Blackfriars, and then have changed their planning policies to allow the proposals. After an application was lodged in 2006 for the 220m Beetham tower at 1 Blackfriars Rd, Southwark introduced a new tall buildings policy for the northern end of Blackfriars Rd, which explicitely rules out tall buildings at the southern end. But then Barratts bought up a series of offices at the southern end, and proposed a 300ft tower, and, hey presto, Southwark announce a new Plan to allow tall buildings at the southern end.
The application for 128-150 Blackfrairs Rd would see the loss of employment-generating offices capable of providing 1,000 jobs, and replacing them with 5 blocks including a tower providing 336 flats - although it's not clear if any of these will be affordable, given Southwark's proclivity for accepting large wodges of cash from developers to spend on new council housing in Peckham. There will also be some shops and a few small offices, plus a public square just about large enough to swing a smallish cat.
But local residents from Webber Row Estate, Styles House, Peabody Estate, Nelson Square and the Albert Triangle have joined together with the Blackfriars Action for Responsible Development (BARD) to protest in the simplest and most effective fashion, by occupying St George's Circus. The demonstration will take place on Monday 27 October from 7.30 - 9.30 in the morning and again in the evening from 5.00 - 7.00pm with the occupation of the island at St George’s Circus and people circulating the Circus using the pedestrian crossings. A statement from the group says
"We are united by a love of Southwark and value the friendly, co-operative, supportive nature of our community. We are a federation of local tenants and residents groups called ‘Southwark Residents Say No’. We are appalled by the current application to develop 128-150 Blackfriars Road adjoining St Georges Circus (including the erection of a tower over 96 metres tall) and at the planning policies of Southwark Council as a whole. At a meeting on 13 October we decided to stage an event at St George Circus to give voice to our protest."