November 1st, 2012
UPDATE: Keep an eye on future events UCLUSAVECARPENTERS
Last night I had the pleasure of attending a talk organised by the UCL Student Union about the future of the Carpenters Estate in Stratford, East London. By the start time of 1800 the lecture theatre was more or less full. Present were a majority of students, a few lecturers and three members of UCL management on the front row (including Andrew Grainger, Director, UCL Estates) both to see what they were up against (of which more later) and to answer the inevitable questions.
A write up by Michael Edwards is available here:-
and my own notes from the evening are available below.
The session started with the showing of a few short video clips about the estate, the last from the Guardian website.
Below the screen from left to right (from the audience) Michael Edwards lecturer in Planning at UCL, Janiz and Osita Madu from Carpenters Estate, Murray Clarke, Lecturer in Architecture at UCL, Julian Cheynes, and Hannah Webb of the Students Union.
The session continued with each of the speakers being allotted five minutes each to express their views about the UCL proposals to expand Eastwards on to the land on which the Carpenters Estate now stands.
From one of the Carpenters residents we learned that in James Riley Point only four families remain, that there was no consultation with the residents and that a cabinet meeting last Thursday decided to allow the the redevelopment to go ahead. But there’s a catch. UCL don’t have the money to do it. They don’t have £1 billion.
Another objection raised by one of the residents was that there are three other Universities nearby. Queen Marys at Mile End, Birkbeck and U.E.L.
The residents are seeking support from UCL with regards to their plight and looking to UCL to help rehouse them given that UCL are responsible for the loss of their homes. But UCL don’t see it that way, they are approaching the purchase of land as if it had already been cleared, a tabula rasa situation, thus avoiding the moral responsibility they would otherwise have to shoulder in taking on this project.
This ties in with their web statement
or -> HERE <-
which I correctly identified as
@annaminton Which having read it, amounts to “it’s not our fault you’re losing your homes, blame Newham Council”.
— Single Aspect (@singleaspect) October 26, 2012
Murray Clarke talked about social inclusion and four challenges including sustainable cities having a mix of people and health and human well being. He said he thought that there would be room for both UCL and 700 units of social housing. Carpenters had 700 homes on it before “decanting” was begun. 400 households have already been relocated but have the right of return.
Julian Cheyne was next to speak and talked about how UCL are shifting the blame as if they are buying an empty piece of land. UCL puts forward the view that the land is empty. It isn’t. It houses the Carpenters Estate.
At one point a student piped up to have go at the management with respect to how they could afford this venture given what had been happening at the existing UCL and gave the following examples:-
- No London Living Wage paid to outsourced staff
- £9000 tuition fees charged
- 13% cut to academic staff salaries
and pointed out that the students present were against the demolition of peoples homes.
When the main speakers had finished speaking at 7pm there was an opportunity for people in the audience to speak, I didn’t note all their comments but many can be found here:-
One of the people who stepped forward was from the Heygate Estate called Jerry Flynn. He said that Heygate had had 1200 homes, now all empty bar one. Only 15 families rehoused and only 150 on the right of return list. Of the proposed affordable homes numbering 235 only 8 are earmarked for social housing, i.e. at rents at cost. He also mentioned the money to be made from student accommodation and how this would form part of the redevelopment.
There were a couple of mentions of direct action and demonstrations from other audience members, one or two of whom were quite strident in putting forward their views.
Michael Edwards spoke up about estate regeneration in general saying that only one move should be required of the residents in other words that regeneration done well ought to enable residents to move from their old homes to the new since people who move off an estate for a number of years tend to get settled there and don’t move back, their children move to a different school etc.
One student was heard to say in response to the UCL plan that “This plan makes A. C. Grayling look progressive” referring to the failed private University that wanted to charge £18000 p.a. tuition fees.
One of the two speakers, Janiz Madu of the estate tackled the management quite forcefully saying they had seen off many developers before and would see UCL off too if they persisted. It was encouraging to hear and she got a round of applause.
In response the management didn’t have a great deal to say, they admitted that they don’t have the funding and at one point during the evening one of the more vocal students in the audience pointed out that UCL had taken money from dubious sources such as the mining company BHPBilliton who have a bad human rights record.
The evening ended bang on 8pm following a straw poll by the chairman to ask if anybody wanted to stay late and the result was a no vote.
Ouch! – Twitter exchange tonight 19/11/12
A right row is brewing between UCL academics and Newham Council following some careless remarks by Sir Robin Wales:-
Robin Wales spoke next, stating that “sometimes academics are full of shit” and that “a lot of regeneration is nonsense talk”.