Happy new year 2010

January 1, 2010 at 10:43 am 5 comments

Authors: Cyril Richert, Kate Williams, Julia Matcham

Dear reader,

On behalf of the Clapham Junction Action Group, we wish you a very happy new year 2010.

We have come a long way since our first battle over the proposed 42 storey towers at Clapham Junction. We have succeeded in stopping that development as well as a proposed 16 storey hotel nearby. As a result, the Council have become more focussed about what residents of our borough truly want, and hopefully their Core Strategy reference document will be amended to reflect this new thinking.

We didn’t set out to become involved in adventures further afield, but in retrospect, there was some inevitability about this happening. What is permitted in the way of ‘tall buildings’ or skyscrapers in any of the borough’s five centres becomes a precedent for developers throughout the borough. It is a virus that spreads.

We realised fairly quickly that ideally we should be pro-active about these matters and not wait to be accused of only being obstructive and against ‘regeneration’ (a word too frequently used by developers when they want to knock something down!). We should have some idea of what we want as well as what we don’t want.

We are planning to arrange a meeting of those who would be willing to join in a discussion of how we might develop as an organisation. That doesn’t mean promising your time on a regular basis …none of us are in a position to do that… but it would be good to know how people think, and if they have any areas of expertise which could be helpful.

Suggested date is

Tuesday January 19th (evening)

Let us know if you are interested (contact form here) and we’ll send you the venue and exact time a few days before.

We would like to make it clear that CJAG is not a political organisation. We try to represent the views of local residents only. It might occur that we disagree with the Council, but expressing different views, even strongly, does not mean systematic opposition.

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Entry filed under: Miscellaneous.

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5 Comments

  • 1. David Rosemont  |  January 4, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Whilst you should be interested in the views of local residents would it not be appropriate to involve the business community as well as surely they are significant stakeholders? More importantly little will happen without them and your meeting would simply be a talking shop.

    It’s often difficult to get a dialogue going and your website has in the past criticised lack of consultation, even when consultation had taken place.

    I think it’s also important that you accept that there are already local “Partnerships” in place to foster discussions about the future of areas. I don’t really know why your own group (if it is a group, with a proper constitution, elected officers etc) should not take part in such existing fora.

    My belief is that the proper democratic channels should be used. To be effective the discussion must involve all stakeholders including investors and employers, otherwise there’s a great risk that the real opportunities will not arrive, and all that happens is a series of fairly meaningless and small scale interventions.

    Have you made any approaches to get represented on established local groups, or are you really more interested in guerilla tactics for other reasons? There are already the Battersea, Wandsworth and Putney Societies, and Town Centre Partnerships, all with significant representation. Why does there need to be another framework? The case needs to be made, and I am not convinced as yet. Are you by implication saying that you don’t want to be involved in such groups?

    Another fear would be that some of your supporters have shown themselves to be capable of ritual abuse of other stakeholders and a lack of realism. If you are intending to get any “round table” established the ground rules have to be clear if you are going to interest a wider partnership.

    Whilst you say that the purpose of the meeting and any new initiative may be “non political” I think that local (and interested and aspiring national) politicians should be involved. Whilst scorn is poured by some on “regeneration” there can be little doubt that it is the key to the recreation of cities and towns of quality and I for one wish that some of the scorners had taken the trouble to get involved day one rather than just waiting to see which way the tide was going before jumping in with the usual plethora of negativity.

    The next few months will be very political indeed. The damaged state of the UK economy requires a degree of rigour and a new approach to get back on the rails, before any local initiatives can realistically be delivered,

    Happy New Year, Bonne Annee, Bloavez Mad!

  • 2. Cyril Richert  |  January 4, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    David Rosemont> Thanks for your comment which raises interesting questions.

    All along 2009 we have been involved in campaigns, mostly with the aim of providing a better information to the community. We have worked with the Battersea Society, the Wandsworth Society and the Putney Society. We have also worked with elected representatives.

    This website is regularly visited by thousands of readers. Last November, you may have noticed that we have opened our pages to the Wandsworth Society – on their request – to report on the Ram Brewery Inquiry. Last August we were working with the three Societies to produce a brief with our views on tall building policy, now submitted to the Council. And back at the beginning of last year we were organising a (successful) public meeting with the Battersea Society. Would all of that have happened if we were called Battersea, Wandsworth or Putney Society? Or Town Centre Partnership or a political organisation? I don’t know, but surely our involvement was appreciated.

    You must remember that the Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership supported the twin towers, which were refused by an unprecedented level of protest in the area. However we have never refused to participate and help any organisation. As already highlighted above, we have used this website to inform on the public inquiry last November in Wandsworth. We have also been invited to participate to the planning forum and we have attended the last 2 meetings at the Town Hall. I have also contacted Lorinda Freint on the 24 September 2009 but I have not received any answer. However, if you have any doubt, be sure that we are planning to contact all relevant representative groups and organisations in 2010 and work with them (including Ms Freint if she can excuse me for harassing her).

    Regarding political representation, we are in regular contact with the MP for Battersea. I have also a very interesting correspondence with the MP for Putney. After a first contact in January 2009, I haven’t received further responses from Jane Ellison for the Conservatives in Battersea, but if she is reading me she should know that I would be pleased to meet her again and talk about our projects. I am always pleased to meet with councillors in the area and I am actually planning to email some again later. Therefore, “not a political organisation” does not mean no politics!

    The question was either to remain a short-lived body or work on further goals (including probably informing the Community on some interest), given the support received previously. 2010 will hopefully give an answer to this.

  • 3. David Rosemont  |  January 6, 2010 at 10:20 am

    It seems that your group is no longer “The Clapham Junction Action Group” but something more akin to a wide ranging pressure group interested in the local (and sometimes further afield) environment. That’s fine; you should not assume however that you are alone in that or that yours is the only opinion that matters. At the same time it must be recognised that campaigns can be made more effective by the use of modern technology.

    It’s very clear that established local groups, partnerships etc have failed to grasp the opportunities (and threats) of the information revolution. My own belief is that some “oomph” has gone out of local partnerships and they need to be re-assessed. That means extending membership in some cases. It’s usless having different groups doing different things and leads to a huge waste of time, effort and money. Just look at East Putney, Clapham Junction, Young’s Brewery and many others. Result- DECADES of loss of opportunity.

    There is a Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership meeting this month, and they are open to the public. Unfortunately such meetings can be useless if there is no real discussion. An example is that we made a presentation of our hotel project at a such a meeting about two years ago now and it was generally welcomed by those present. On that basis we proceeded to make a detailed planning application but effectively the same scheme was refused planning over a year later. Result- hard feelings all round. It can make a mockery of “consultation”.

    I’ve been following the latest Station improvement ideas. It seems to me that it’s mainly tinkering and it’s not at all obvious what the overall strategy for the town centre is. For instance what happens to the existing shopping facilities when their footfall is diverted into the new entrance? What happens about the wider picture? It’s certainly not about making a town centre “fit for the 21st century”. Let’s be honest about that.

    Personally I believe that you will find it difficult to get the full range of politicians involved in your own project, particularly between now and May. They may all say they don’t like tall buildings- that’s somewhat predictable now. The question is- can they come up with real achievable ideas WITHOUT the widest participation and that means property investors and their professionals? My experience is that they tend to be rather reactive not creative by inclination, and don’t give their opinions out too freely until they can see which way the wind is going.

    The Wandsworth Challenge SRB Partnership did come up with ideas which did have known support. Personally I am hopeful that Lord Heseltine’s current cities initiative is an indicator of better things to come.

  • 4. Cyril Richert  |  January 6, 2010 at 10:50 am

    David Rosemont> I will comments some of your note below, but first let me say that I agree to most of it.

    It seems that your group is no longer “The Clapham Junction Action Group”“: any new name is welcomed, but it is not a priority. Moreover we do focus primarily on CJ, sot it still makes sense.

    local groups, partnerships etc have failed to grasp the opportunities (and threats) of the information revolution“: opportunities, certainly as it offer a cheaper way of communication, also being effective.

    Unfortunately such meetings can be useless if there is no real discussion“: it is indeed one of the problem: why are those meeting “confidential”? Having a loog at the website I see: Upcoming Events=No show case event found.
    http://www.clapham-junction.com/

    it’s not at all obvious what the overall strategy for the town centre is“: it is also one of the regular claim of the Battersea Society. If the WBC or whoever does not come with one, maybe the CJAG can give some ideas in 2010?

    you will find it difficult to get the full range of politicians involved in your own project“: certainly, but election time is also good for attention. I am an optimistic person 🙂

    Lord Heseltine’s current cities initiative“: I could not find any link with Lord Heseltine’s document/task force. Any link?

  • 5. David Rosemont  |  January 6, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Try http://www.centreforcities.org for the Heseltine connection. I’m sure you know that he was the original instigator of the SRB programme which was launched by the Conservatives in the early 1990s and which benefitted central Wandsworth and Tooting. The SRB funding was £19.6million for Wandsworth Town Centre and the target private sector leverage was £46million over 10 years. It achieved over £200million, being one of the most successful such partnerships nationally. That partnership included residents groups (as well as the usual amenity society) as well as a wide variety of other individuals and organisations. It was an ACTIVE partnership and had a real buzz! However there were some persistent absentees- I will not name them here but they know who they are! Some are standing for re-election this year.

    The Wandsworth Challenge Partnership (now differently named the Town Centre Partnership) recognised the need to involve the private sector and was chaired by a representative from that.

    I also commend to you Common Purpose, a graduate of which I am, and which is dedicted to improving relations between the private, voluntary and government sectors. Since the “spin” doctors took over in the 90s I think government has become much LESS open.

    Regards CJ Town Centre- I think I misinformed you and found out this morning that there was a projected meeting in December. Not sure if it happened or not or when the next meeting is, so you better contact the EDO who run such things.


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