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Bonkers Blog July 2016

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16 July (Part 2) - No more Clockwork Oranges

Last week’s Places Scrutiny meeting wasn’t just an excuse for Councillors Peter Craske and John Waters to make exhibitions of themselves, it was also a useful source of information, it usually is and Chairman Melvin Seymour generally strikes just the right note being neither overly officious or jocular as some who could be named - notwithstanding his ignorance of the history of Thames crossings.

For many the most interesting feature would be Peabody’s vision of the future for South Thamesmead and Executive Director Pauline Ford and Head of Neigbourhoods Nicci Talbot-Morris put on a good show. Their plans were based on conversations with more than 3,000 residents.

PeabodyOne of the major goals is to “change perceptions of Thamesmead”.

There has been a consultation with all the residents “around the Wolvercote Road area, 600 residents, about redeveloping those homes over six to eight years”. The proposal is to “move and rebuild at much higher density”.

13 tower blocks would be refurbished and residents have welcomed the idea. The Yarnton Way wall which divides the estate would be removed and communal areas upgraded.

82% of residents responded to the consultations and those who had reservations have been given individual attention. The consultations are ongoing.

Owner occupiers were particularly concerned because the value of their homes is “very low” and the price of the replacements “will be relatively high due to the poor ground conditions”. Existing tenants will continue to pay “social rents”.

The offer to owner occupiers is that Peabody would buy their old home at 10% above market value with an option to take an up to 50% share in the new home on which no rent would be paid. Those down sizing will be offered a £3,000 per room bonus. “It will tie up Peabody capital for a long time but there are no hidden catches. It probably sounds too good to be true but it is true.”

Peabody has recently repossessed the Lakeside Centre which requires extensive repair. It will become “a community based facility”. £1·5 million is available to “kick start” the refurbishment.

Councillor Danny Hackett (Labour, Lesnes Abbey) asked for an update on plans for Harrow Manorway.

The plans for a “pop up High Street” (temporary shops along Harrow Manorway north of the fly over) have been shelved because the demolition of Coralline Walk is likely to be earlier than at first envisaged and the life of the pop up would be too short for it to be viable. The “resources” will be diverted to the Lakeside Centre.

SawyerCouncillor Seán Newman (Labour, Belvedere) asked what “resilience” there would be post Brexit against Peabody’s loss of European funding. Mrs. Ford said that Peabody did not get any EU funding. Cabinet Member Alex Sawyer, resplendent in pink pyjamas and rainbow socks could not contain his mirth. Peabody had checked all their funding arrangements and “there are no concerns at all. We are well funded into the future”.

Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, North End) was concerned about transport links and Mrs. Ford rightly said that transport in Thamesmead was too often a question of “spending a very long time going a very short distance”.

In Harrow Manorway Bexley Council is the design lead and was keen “to segregate pedestrians, cyclists, buses and cars and create an environment which is appealing”. Bexley’s Deputy Director of Regeneration and Growth said that “the space down the middle [of Harrow Manorway] is safeguarded for the future, potentially trams”.

The Deputy Director said that the cost of trees can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds so there is a balance to be struck between cost and how long they would be there. There will be a statement on transport in Thamesmead in about two months time.

Cabinet Member Peter Craske said he “had not followed Thamesmead until tonight but it is a tremendous opportunity” and then bored everyone to death with some ancient tale about the redevelopment of Birmingham.
Harrow Manorway

Alternative artist’s impressions of Harrow Manorway photographed from projected image.
Will we have to drive on the wrong side of the road? Left image.

As some of you will know my son works on road safety issues and is a consultant to the European Union. He told me only a couple of months ago that Germany has been putting a lot of effort into segregated carriageways and seen a big spike in the cyclist death rate. He said it appears to be caused by putting a tree barrier between the tracks, the end result of which is that both sets of road users forget about each other’s presence. Then when it comes to a junction and vehicles turn right (left in the UK), Bang!

Maybe Bexley should forget about its £100,000 trees.


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