Architect Director, One-world design:
I am a big fan of Cameron, and have met him several times and supported AFH for many years. However I think he may have misjudged this one.
sometimes it seems that people are scarred to say what they really think through fear of being shouted down. Nice scheme, wrong place. Nothing like the high line which essentially recycled an existing piece of structure - this is an expensive new 'park' that blocks the best view of London from waterloo bridge and the south bank. This is not a sustainability driven project and if it was there would be a multitude of better ways to spend £175million; and it is not a transport driven project (what is the cost:benefit ratio?). As great as it may be the existing situation is better. There I've said it.
This issue is very close to home for a small practice like ours. We lease offices in London, which the freeholder has plans to convert to apartments but will not say exactly when. It has to be said that some of the ground floor units which were initially designed as commercial space, make awful apartments, particularly those that lead onto the Thames path in Battersea as they is literally no privacy (perhaps the permitted development rights went too far in some instances). There is a shortage of smaller sized office space, i.e. less than 1000sqft but a lot of empty retail space around this size. Permitted development allows retail to be used as office for 3 years, however retail landlords are holding out for retail rents, even though the shops remain empty for years at a time. If the landlords rental expectations could drop then offices such as those required by architectural practices could be part of the solution to bringing life to local high streets.
Debate is of course important and ultimately will be beneficial. The AJ is taking up a lot of copy on this issue and although the recommendations are interesting I cant help by wonder who is best placed to give expert views on this issue. The issue is not as simple as height, density etc. - its not just an architectural or planning issue, its one of society, psychology and base human needs. There is a chronic housing shortage, there are limited models of providing space for new homes, I hear NO to highrise and NO to building on green belt, we cant all keep saying no to everything so lets find out what the best way of doing things are, at a human level, before rejecting ideas. Where is the sociological research? Too many opinions, not enough science?