A planning application has been submitted by Midland Railway for the erection of a new goods yard at Somers Town. The proposal will involve the demolition of 4,000 homes currently housing over 10,000 people on this 7 acre site....these are the details of a 1874 planning application which gained consent and was implemented resulting in the completion in 1887 of the Somers Town Goods Depot near Kings Cross. It all seems fairly innocuous at first glance until you look at the figures more closely... 4,000 homes on a 7 acre site...Lets put that in context - a rough calculation gives us a value of 3,000 HRH (that's habitable rooms per hectare, the standard measure of housing density) the average for London today is around 400 HRH and even in the densest of schemes rarely goes over 1,000 HRH and then only in high rise developments. The housing on the site in 1874 would have been mostly 2 storeys. 4,000 homes on a 7 acre site ...but there is a bright side. Of the 10,000 people living on the site in 1874 some would have still been alive in 1917 and living elsewhere, which is just as well. On a cold winters evening in February of that year a Zeppelin flew overhead and bombed the site. Thankfully those days have long gone as indeed has the goods yard. The cleared site which lies just behind the British Library on Midland Street is up for sale, no guide prices, but you're probably looking at the thick end of £30+ million.
June 2007 Archives
People often ask how frequently we visit construction sites in London - this sequence for Berkeley's City Quarter may give you some idea....
The Land Use Bill goes for its second reading on Friday. It plans to stop the practice known as garden grabbing. So what is garden grabbing and why does it need to have a land use bill to stop it. In essence garden grabbing is ..wait for it...building a property in a garden...ok so it's a bit more complicated than that. The crux of the matter is that gardens are designated as brownfield sites in just the same way as industrial sites are and local authorities have targets as to how much brownfield they convert to residential. Now, if you're a developer, gardens, which by there very nature are already in an urban or sub-urban context with all that entails (transport links, roads, sanitation, electricity etc) make a much more viable (and indeed profitable) alternative to say a disused nuclear power station (I'm exaggerating, but you get the drift). There's also another bonus to garden grabbing. Anecdotal evidence suggests that once development starts at one end of the street, a bizarre domino effect kicks in whereby all the other gardens (and invariably the existing houses as well) get developed, as the neighbouring residents, disgruntled by all this "change" sell out to the developers. Of course there is one other way garden grabbing could be curtailed....don't sell bits of your garden in the first place.
For those who remember the TV series The Professionals, Chambers Wharf will have a special significance (they filmed part of series 5 there) for those who don't it's still a great building and one of the last remaining prime riverside sites in inner London. But if you want to go and see this brutal piece of architecture you'd better get a move on, St Martins Property Investments has just submitted an application to demolish it. The application states that the new build will be mostly residential, no sizes as yet, but one thing's for sure it's going to be big...very big.
Bob Monkhouse, Lady Antonia Fraser, Tony Benn, Roy Jenkins, Polly Toynbee, Anjelica Huston all went to or had children who went to The Holland Park School in Kensington and Chelsea. It's going to be demolished. Planning permission was granted on Wednesday for a new development on the site of the school's playing fields along with a brand new school complete with a swimming pool in the basement. And thats not all, the 24 keyworker units on site will be for the teachers at the school with rents in the region of £130 a week for the 1 bed flats.
Imagine that you're a big construction company competing for tenders worth millions of pounds and you're constantly up against other construction firms that are doing exactly the same thing... everyone trying to undercut everyone else....now imagine all the construction companies getting together, deciding on a price they were going to charge and then adding a little bit extra to the bill...so whoever won the contract would compensate the others from the inflated price...it's not a new idea, it's called price fixing and the Office of Fair Trading doesn't like it.. especially when, according to Construction News, there are over 100 firms implicated in this alleged £3 billion racket.
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