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Save Bernard Morgan House

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There is another way: the history of alternative schemes proves that resistance works

'There is another way' was the slogan chosen by Coin Street Community Campaigners who famously forced the property owners on London's South Bank to ditch their scheme for an office city in favour of a new resident-led neighbourhood.

The fruits of their successful campaigning is in evidence today for anyone walking along the South Bank. Oxo Tower Wharf, the Iroko Housing Co-op and many others are part of a resident-led development of low cost rented housing built where there would otherwise be office blocks or expensive apartments. 

In other parts of London, there is also a history of successful campaigning. A good example is the Odhams Walk development in Covent Garden. An up to date case study is the Mount Pleasant development where local residents have brought to a halt an over dense development of private housing.  

A short distance from here, a plan by King's College to demolish a row of housing overlooking St Clement Dane's Church was recently changed under pressure by Save Britain's Heritage.

In all of these cases, campaigners commissioned or created alternative designs, more thoughtful, more relevant and more cleverly put together than the original. Read more from the action group, Create Streets (active in blocking original plans for Mount Pleasant).

People who live in a place know a lot about what makes that place work and especially what make that place work better in the future. We are therefore lucky to have the chance to examine alternative plans as a way of realising how much might be possible with a little extra thinking, designing and analysis.

There are now three alternative proposals. One by Fred Scott (Bayer House) demonstrates how a tower identical in most ways to Great Arthur House positioned near to Hatfield House together with a sunken set of gardens can create an innovative scheme.

Charles Humphries (Basterfield House) has suggested two alternative schemes both of which dispense with the tower block and create lower rise accommodation. He also explores sinking the new scheme to the level of the rest of the estate and in one case, moves the school onto the London College of Fashion site releasing space for the creation of 102 rather than 66 homes.

There is a desperate shortage of low cost housing in the City and Islington especially with the sale of Bernard Morgan House and the YMCA in Fann Street - this is an opportunity to redress the balance.

Proposals for housing blocks of between five and seven floors would remove the need for a tower block and create more homes and more green space.

A shared green space adjacent to Basterfield House would bring the benefits of nature to existing as well as new communities.

If you have already commented for the August deadline, you may either write a new set of comments or an additional set. What you need to do next:

  1. Have a look at all of the proposals

  2. Update yourself on the current proposals and the various commentaries

  3. Respond to the two planning authorities

  4. Please add copies of your response if you are happy to do so to the RCS site forum.

For links to proposals and planning portals click here.

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