1. 'anything goes'


    "The other reason London’s tall buildings are so oddly spread is local democracy. In the conservative borough of Westminster, the council resists almost all new tall buildings; despite soaring rents, no new skyscrapers have been built there since the 1960s. In the corporatist City, expensive architecture is prized. Almost anything goes in poor Labour-run authorities such as Lambeth, Southwark and Tower Hamlets."


  2. Save The Kirkaldy Testing Museum!

    Southwark is about to let another gem disappear.

    The Kirkaldy Testing Museum is a museum which preserves a unique Victorian Materials Testing Machine in working order in the premises built to house it.

    It also tells the story of the Kirkaldy family who ran the business for almost 100 years and the wider history of materials testing.

    The Testing Works were built at 99 Southwark St and opened in 1874.
    Manufacturers sent materials from all over the world - they tested parts for everything from James Eads 1867 St Louis Bridge over the Mississippi River to the 1951 Festival of Britain Skylon.

    There may only be 3 more openings due to an issue with their lease -unless the situation is resolved, the museum will have to close in June.

    "The museum is run entirely volunteers. but we desperately need more help. At present we can only open one Sunday per month. More people to help means opening on more days and hence more visitor income."




  3. The clue is in the title


  4. Come together! Community planning around London …

  5. before … and after (February 20th, 2014)


  6. Thoughts on the Blackfriars SPD

    The Blackfriars Supplementary Planning Document was approved by Southwark Council at their cabinet meeting last night, Tuesday 28th 2014. The council argue that it’s a positive approach to the large-scale development which is coming to the Blackfriars Road now that the “market has discovered the potential” of the area. The SPD states that it’s aim is to sensibly manage the oncoming development, local residents would argue that because it is a short, general document and because there is no mention at all of public infrastructure, such as new schools or health facilities or civic centres or green spaces, or heritage protection - it could in fact lead to irresponsible development. Or rather that the council should be honest and reclassify the document correctly as a business development plan.
    It should be recorded that the document was ‘consulted’ on over many months, with council officers attending community groups and tenants groups. Residents and groups duly responded in depth to the document but not one person or group received a reply. 
    Below is one councillor, Adele Morris’s view on last night’s meeting and the potential effects of the type of changes to the area perhaps now invited by the SPD. 
    Her views are interesting to consider in light of this - http://www.london-se1.co.uk/news/view/7371 
  7. Despite the last ditch attempt of squatters who managed to delay the demolition by a few days- it is farewell to Blackfriars Road only mansion block and the historic 18c King’s Head pub. BPS spoke to the squatters before Christmas, they had grand plans to turn the buildings into London’s first Bitcoin pub and to turn the mansion block back into flats and open a community centre. They argued because locals Charles Dickens, Charles Babbage and Charlie Chaplin had frequented the pub - and because the original bar was still in tact - there was grounds for its preservation - and cited the rescue of the Pineapple in Kentish Town as precedent (http://www.camdennewjournal.com/reviews/books/2012/nov/heroic-local-why-history-pineapple-inspiration-those-fighting-save-their-pubs). BPS was impressed at their optimism and wished them well. BPS also thought perhaps the developers had met their nemesis, a tenacious group who knew the law and would argue what they had to in order to get their way. It was not to be. 

    A nice exchange on the London SE1 website illustrates local feeling about the group and the sad loss of the buildings -



  8. Tall towers - part 2

    BPS has been told that Southwark design team have rebuffed Maccreanor Lavington’s tower, included in their initial Barratt home scheme for St George’s Circus - http://barrattblackfriarsroad.com/ - not because they’re worried about shade, wind tunnelling or that the proposed tower is abutting a Conservation area but because … they specifically want a glass tower, not a brick one. It would be interesting to understand more about their reasoning, particularly as the proposed scheme is all in brick - and Maccreanor Lavington are excellent architects who specialise in working in brick. In fact, they’ve built the award-winning and very acceptable brick H10 hotel on Waterloo Road that will be looked at by the Barratt scheme, around St George’s Circus. In fact, their award-winning architecture featured recently in this interesting article in the FT on the welcome return of … brick.

    Great article  from  on ‘How Brick is back    



    Render of the proposed scheme by Maccreanor Lavington architects


  9. Tall buildings

    BPS is neutral on towers. If they don’t involve the loss of a heritage or character building and are architecturally peerless (ie. not Strata), BPS is not against them. It’s a case by case issue for BPS. However, there have been several recent articles that we’ve found interesting/cautionary.



    "But Mr Rees says his personal view is that some skyscrapers are being built in unsuitable locations. "From Bermondsey to Battersea, you are confronted by isolated tall buildings and I believe this damages the city," he says.

    "If you are building tall, you should cluster buildings together," he adds "It’s no good building over each Underground station across London."

    "I think we will end up with a very ugly looking place with random tall buildings."


    Current Southwark planning policy states that towers are only appropriate at the North end of Blackfriars Road, clustered around the bridge. Already coming are South Bank Tower (128.4m), 1 Blackfriars (170m, plus a 6 storey and 5 storey building), 240 Blackfriars (80m) and 245 Blackfriars Road (aka Ludgate and Sampson, 9 buildings, tallest 42 storeys). Currently called in for review is 20 Blackfriars Road (141m and another of 23 storeys). Now, Southwark Council are proposing in the upcoming Blackfriars SPD, supposedly a guideline document, that Southwark Tube Station and St George’s Circus are suitable sites for 70m towers. The Southwark tube site was recently acquired and St George’s Circus site is being developed by Barratt Homes. Southwark Council views the towers as important in creating a corridor, linking Elephant and Castle, along London Road and Blackfriars Road, to the river - and no doubt in their mind to the money of the City of London.

    The local community, however, is by no means convinced of the benefits of tall buildings. BPS was recently told the heartbreaking example of a resident in sheltered accommodation behind the Palestra. Visited by a councillor, the pensioner who answered was wrapped in a blanket. She said that her home was now cast into permanent shadow. She could no longer get warm and was “waiting to die”. 

  11. Farewell Colorama.

    Scroll down to Nov 14th 2012’s post to learn about the building’s history and attempts to save it.


  12. Hail the new preservationists!

    BPS is saddened that the need is there, but also delighted, to hear of the newly formed East End Preservation Society. Member, historian Dan Cruickshank, spoke eloquently in the Guardian about why it has been founded:

    "Worried local people say the character of the East End, already one of the most densely populated in England, is at risk of being destroyed by a "powerful lobby of rich vested interests" including developers, expanding City firms and the mayor, Boris Johnson.

    Last month, more than 200 campaigners and local people attended the inaugural meeting of the East End Preservation Society where speakers including art historian and broadcaster Dan Cruickshank said the high-rise development boom represented a “collapse of local democracy” that is fast stripping away the historical streetscape, heritage and scale of the area and creating a legacy of social problems.”


    In the article London’s deputy mayor for planning, Sir Edward Lister, argues that with the need for jobs and housing, ‘the skyline cannot be frozen, the capital cannot be held in statis’. What Lister fails to add is that often heritage buildings can redeveloped and incorporated into schemes but developers will never countenance this as they only think of the bottom line, it’s quantity-led rather than quality. More fundamentally, most of the new central London schemes are luxury flats that are bought by overseas investors or as buy-to-let (Overseas buyers now account for anywhere between 50% to 85% of all prime London property purchases and almost all of the new developments that are bought off plan. http://www.londonlovesbusiness.com/property/residential-property/five-reasons-why-the-london-property-bubble-will-burst/5892.article). They generally do not help with the demand for housing from within London, a large proportion of which comes from low income renters, middle income first time buyers or new families. Also, as a large amount of the new developments involve the demolition of social housing and displacement of residents - they arguably exacerbate a housing crisis. The housing problem is also not just about the lack of stock (or available land, it’s well known that large chunks of land are ‘banked’ by developers to constrict supply and increase value), it’s also about the lack of affordability. Tied into stagnant wages, demolishing historic buildings, often home to small businesses and replacing then with expensive office buildings arguably only provides certain types of jobs for certain types of people, and what is needed is more granular development that provides diversity of job opportunities. Lister also doesn’t address the ‘local democracy’ issue. Community groups and civic organisations are anything but ‘static’ in their aims and approaches, they could also, alongside high-end developers or volume house builders, help to grow London. SAVE’s planning proposal for Smithfield’s is a great example - 


  13. 22 Blackfriars Road by Past London taken September 9, 2011
    22 Blackfriars Road by Alex Pink February 24th, 2010
    22 Blackfriars Road by D Alexander
    Building demolished May 2012, site currently derelict



    22 Blackfriars Road building built pre 1890, demolished May 2012, site currently derelict

    22 Blackfriars Road by Past London taken September 9, 2011 

    22 Blackfriars Road by Alex Pink February 24th, 2010

    22 Blackfriars Road by D Alexander

    Old Bailey account of trial of the building’s 1890 owner James Adams 


    We have re-blogged the sad loss of 22 Blackfriars Road (demolished in 2012) as the row of buildings it was part of has been brought into the news thanks to an artwork, the ‘upside down building’. A faithful recreation of the facade of 20 Blackfriars Road, flipped, the artwork is in part funded by the developers, but maybe don’t hold that against it? At least someone’s drawing attention to the area’s historic buildings, also that the area is being … turned upside down.


    The whole row of buildings are all due for demolition as part of a large, mixed-use scheme granted permission in 2008. Sadly, 22 Blackfriars Road was knocked down only so that the developers planning permission remains valid. It has been a derelict site for a year - when it could have been adding to the sum of architectural happiness to the street and all Londoners. The overall scheme has currently been called in for review by the Secretary of State due to two of its towers affecting world heritage views. However, things seem to be underway again according to a new section 106 agreement inked between the developers and Southwark Council in May 2013. Reading this document, pictured above, BPS is relieved to know that if ever we decide to set up a bank, we can still, even when in ‘special liquidation’ (ie. having been bailed out by the Irish tax payers and now with massive debts), proceed with huge money-spinning property schemes. Well, at least they’re in partnership with Blackfriars Limited, a company registered in Guernsey. BPS is sure there is a hilarious irony to a tax payer-bailed out bank being in league with a tax-dodging developer but we’re too polite to point it out. 

    for all planning or affordable housing geeks (the detail of the affordable housing is in the Section 106 agreement), the application no is 07-AP-0301. 



  14. There goes the neighbourhood


    Goodbye Blackfriars Cafe, as the sign says, it’s ‘demolition in progress’ time. Don’t worry though, a newly Pret A Manger has opened right opposite. What’s that, you miss your affordable fry up, your mug of tea, your group of regulars, the family who ran the cafe, a place where people knew your name? Tough luck. This is progress.  

    This is a bit off the heritage agenda but stick with us - there’s a great newsagent and local convenience store, Charlie’s (Express Supersave), directly opposite the new Pret and Sainsbury’s. They need your custom if you’re in the area, 156 Blackfriars Road. Their trade has been 80% down since the newcomers arrived. Charlie’s stocks naan, jamaican bread, rye bread - all ordered in after requested by local customers. Have you ever tried asking Sainsbury’s to stock something? Don’t bother. They won’t.


  15. Good news story!

    Well done to amazing local resident, Anne Critchley, who has persuaded those hard to please heritage boffins at English Heritage to give the Former Sons of Temperance Friendly Society Building a Grade II listing.

    Sited at 176 Blackfriars Road, BPS had always enjoyed the fact that the Temperance Society building - advocates of tee-totalism - sat next to the ‘Imbibe’ bar. Originally a pub called the The King’s Head, alcohol had been served at the site for over one hundred and fifty years (records show the building dates to pre-1830). Sadly, Imbibe was closed two weeks ago and its Georgian-era home is being demolished on December 13th 2013. In it’s place will be yet more bland box flats (see previous posts). 

    Full details:



    Photo: Ewan-M @ Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/55935853@N00/

    In brief:

    Summary of Building

    Friendly society headquarters, now offices, 1909-10 by AC Russell.

    Reasons for Designation

    The former Sons of Temperance Friendly Society building at 176, Blackfriars Road, of 1909-10 by AC Russell, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Historic interest: the purpose-built headquarters of a large international temperance association and affiliation of friendly societies; * Architectural interest: an eye-catching piece of Edwardian street architecture that evokes the design of contemporary pubs and banks; * Signage and iconography: the building retains its original signage, stained glass and mosaic roundels, all loudly announcing the identity and character of the organisation for which it was built.