Chris Brown, Chief Executive, Igloo Regeneration
In particular, Chris was keen to stress that “it’s the people’s ideas that matter” and not necessarily the professional’s. One way of gauging people’s ideas if using social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, which can sometimes highlight local campaigns and issues important to communities.
As part of this, Chris questioned whether the Tottenham Plan was true ‘regeneration’ in that it was seen as property-led and ‘top-down’ and failed to bring the community along with it, resulting in residents marching against the plan once it was published.
Chris also discussed new and emerging mechanisms where communities could influence their local areas, such as the Community Right to Build (although with concerns over whether communities are ready for such powers) and Custom Build (different to Self Build) where businesses provide the homes people want but they are customised to suit the residents’ needs (with the best system currently found in The Netherlands).
Simon Bevan, Director of Planning, London Borough of Southwark
Simon started his presentation by covering the most famous building in Southwark, The Shard. Surprisingly there was little controversy over the planning permission for The Shard in that there were only 17 objections! Similarly, the One Blackfriars skyscraper had no objectors turn up to speak at Planning Committee and, in fact, one supporter turned up to speak to support the application!
Simon discussed how a top priority for Southwark Council is to deliver housing and, in particular, affordable housing with a total of £80m commuted sums for affordable housing raised from various developments. The council is building 1,000 new council homes by 2020, such as at Nunhead Green which received planning permission recently.
The rival bids between the approved Bankside Neighbourhood Forum and the Southbank Employers Group (SBEG) for ‘neighbourhood plan’ designations were also covered by Simon, who suggested that either side would have to be disappointed to some extent whatever the final decision on designation is. Simon described how Better Bankside Business Improvement District (BID) and the local residents’ forums have well-established ways of working together and seem to agree on many ‘quality of life’ issues. However, Simon did suggest that it can sometimes be problematic where communities don’t necessarily agree amongst themselves on what they would like to see happen on the ground.
Gordon Adams, Head of Planning, Battersea Power Station Development Company
Gordon kicked off his presentation by explaining that, from his experience so far, for a complex regeneration project such as Battersea Power Station, it is important to foster a mentality of “we’re all in it together” between public and private sector partners to ensure the project is delivered. In fact, a key focus of the Development Company has been on ensuring ‘delivery’. The Development Company is a Malaysian consortium including the Malaysian pension fund.
Gordon outlined how the site has a unique planning status in that it is in the Central Activities Zone (CAZ), the Vauxhall Nine Elms and Battersea (VNEB) Opportunity Area and has been designated a new town centre (when development starts).
The key heritage, design and transport issues were covered by Gordon, including the phased replacement of the famous chimneys and the establishment of the Northern Line Extension.
Gordon’s presentations ended with two videos showing the progress so far and political and financial support for the project, as well as visualisations of what the scheme will look like when complete – certainly to remain one of the world’s most iconic buildings!