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Geraldine Dening's comments

  • Assessing Aylesbury: What's the true cost of demolishing council estates?

    Geraldine Dening's comment 20 November, 2015 10:28 pm

    Correction. The maps were by Professor Loretta Lees, an international expert on gentrification.

  • Assessing Aylesbury: What's the true cost of demolishing council estates?

    Geraldine Dening's comment 20 November, 2015 10:19 pm

    At the CPO inquiry Professor Jane Rendell presented maps (link below) of the displacement of Aylesbury Estate council tenants and leaseholders - so far. I'm not surprised Duggan Morris Architects are eager to distance themselves from such practices. Social cleansing by any other name would smell as rank.

  • Assessing Aylesbury: What's the true cost of demolishing council estates?

    Geraldine Dening's comment 20 November, 2015 12:17 pm


    With regard to the decision-making process requiring what Ben Derbyshire calls 'intensive involvement of the affected community', at a 2001 ballot responded to by 76% of Aylesbury Estate residents, 73% voted in favour of refurbishment and against demolition.(http://www.theguardian.com/society/2001/dec/27/1)

    As to reasons 'to doubt the thoroughness of the process that gave rise to the Area Action Plan, which was adopted by residents of the estate', in 2009 Aylesbury Tenants and Leaseholders First made a submission to the Government Inspector on the ‘systematic failings of the Aylesbury Area Action Plan consultation process.’ (https://aylesburytenantsfirst.wordpress.com/resources/)

    Where architectural practices such as HTA, Mae, Hawkins\ Brown, and PRP - to name just a few - come into estate regeneration with a fixed set of objectives, pre-determined by councils, housing associations, property developers and politicians, for the demolition and rebuilding of the existing estate, and then use the consultation process to generate the reasons and excuses to achieve this, Architects for Social Housing (ASH) begins by asking the community about their needs and wishes, and uses these to generate objectives and initiatives to bring this about. It is a process that moves from the inside out, from community to genuine estate regeneration – one that leaves the existing community intact.

    ASH, which is not (despite the AJ's insistence) a protest group, is employing this consultation model in our current architectural work with Central Hill and West Ken & Gibbs Green estates. Last month, with just such a proposal, we helped save half the homes on Knight's Walk estate, which you may read about here, since the AJ has refused to publish our architectural work. https://architectsforsocialhousing.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/knights-walk-recommendation-to-cabinet/

    For those wondering – and it seems there are many who are, in the profession and outside – this is what an ethical architectural practice looks like.

    Simon Elmer
    Architects for Social Housing

  • Housing campaigners protest outside AJ120

    Geraldine Dening's comment 8 November, 2015 4:58 pm

    I see the Architects’ Journal have recently recoloured our ‘Fight for the Aylesbury’ protest planes red. Unfortunately ASH couldn’t afford red paper at the time, so thanks for the photoshopping. But are you trying to imply something?

    Simon Elmer
    Architects for Social Housing

  • AJ120 activist is cereal protester

    Geraldine Dening's comment 8 November, 2015 10:49 am

    Oh dear, I didn't realise I'd been outed by the AJ! I thought that was the job of the Daily Mail. Or do I detect the McCarthyite hand of Paul Finch at work?

    I wasn't, in fact, at the Cereal Cafe protest, as I was too busy watching England lose to Wales. But I did write on the event page afterwards:

    1) Opening a shop that sells children's cereals for £4 a bowl in a borough in which 49% of the kids are living in poverty is an insult to the thousands of Tower Hamlets residents who have to eat on less than £4 a day.

    2) Estate agents growing rich from people’s struggle to keep a roof over their head are instruments of gentrification and the homelessness that is a direct result of it.

    3) Demolishing council housing and evicting the people in them to build luxury apartments for the City boys who profit from their homelessness is social cleansing.

    4) Cutting benefits to the poor in the name of austerity while cutting taxes for the rich is class war.

    5) If you don’t already know this, you never will, which makes you part of the problem, if only for your choice to remain ignorant of social realities.

    If you wanted to report the facts, you had only to contact me, rather than repeating the lies of the tabloids.

    Simon Elmer
    Architects for Social Housing

  • The ethics of regeneration: architects react to protest claims

    Geraldine Dening's comment 8 November, 2015 10:28 am

    In response to Alex Ely’s reaction to the AJ120 Awards protest by Fight4Aylesbury and ASH (19.06.15 below), allow me to correct the factual inaccuracies in the answers he gave to his own question about whether his practice, Mae Architects, is acting ethically in participating in the £1.5 billion regeneration of the Aylesbury estate.

    1) First, the Aylesbury estate is not being ‘regenerated’, it is being demolished for new developments.

    2) The estate did not ‘vote in favour’ of demolition; on the contrary, at a 2001 ballot responded to by 76% of residents, 73% voted in favour of refurbishment and against demolition (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2001/dec/27/1).

    3) And far from the council’s decision to demolish being made ‘following extensive consultation’, in 2009 Aylesbury Tenants and Leaseholders First made a submission to the Government Inspector on the ‘systematic failings of the Aylesbury Area Action Plan consultation process’ (https://aylesburytenantsfirst.wordpress.com/resources/).

    4) Finally, rather than ‘designing private housing to pay for social housing’, there will be 680 fewer homes in the projected development for social rent, and these will be for up to 80% of market value, far beyond the financial means of the current council tenants (https://southwarknotes.wordpress.com/aylesbury-estate/).

    The exact opposite of the ‘Robin Hood’ moral standpoint Ely rather grandly characterises himself as taking, Mae Architects are stealing from the poor to give to the rich. Behind this facade of misinformation, assumed neutrality, and responsibility passed to no less a Notting Hill sheriff than ‘society as a whole’, it is with such collusion in the social cleansing of council estates and the communities they house that architects warrant their description as ‘the funeral directors of the working classes.’

    Simon Elmer
    ASH (Architects for Social Housing)

  • ASH protesters lack staying power

    Geraldine Dening's comment 25 October, 2015 8:31 am

    Rather than sniping at us, why doesn't the AJ publish our Petition to the RIBA? We waited until 9pm for a representative to come out and receive it, but perhaps the Taittinger detained you. Here it is in full:

    ASH Petition to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

    Architects for Social Housing (ASH) reminds the RIBA that in its Code of Professional Conduct published in January 2005, under Principle 3 on Relationships, paragraph 3.1 states that architects should: ‘Have a proper concern and due regard for the effect that their work may have on the local community.’

    In addition, we remind the RIBA that in the Guidance Note 1 to the same Code, on the RIBA’s definition of Corruption and Bribery, paragraph 1.13 states that a bribe is: ‘An incentive to act against one’s professional obligations or duty to others.’

    On behalf of our 400 members, and of every architect who does not want to collude in the social cleansing being pursued through Government and Council housing policy, Architects for Social Housing calls on the RIBA to lobby the UK government on existing housing policy and the Architects Registration Board for a review of the moral duties of British architects.

    Specifically, we call on the RIBA to make the participation of the architectural profession in the following projects not a decision, as it is under current guidelines, for the conscience and ethics of the individual architect or practice, but professionally prohibited by a New Architects’ Code of Conduct:

    • Projects in which there is no review process for viability assessments that undervalue the sales value of properties and land, thereby reducing the quota of affordable and social rent housing;
    • Projects in which exceptions to Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act regulations on affordable housing and social rent quotas have been triggered by payments in lieu to Councils, and therefore conform to the RIBA definition of a bribe;
    • Projects in which affordable housing is not built on-site but relocated to land that is already owned by the Council, often on existing housing estates, which are then demolished without ‘due regard for the local community’.

    Further, we call on the RIBA to lobby Government to fix the quota of affordable housing in any given project to a minimum of 40%, and to index the definition of affordable to earnings, rather than the 80% of market value currently in place, which makes a mockery not only of the laws of the English language, but of the London Mayor’s claims to be building homes for Londoners.

    Finally, we object to the use of the term ‘brownfield land’ being applied to existing council housing estates, a usage that equates the residents of these estates to toxic or industrial waste that requires cleaning up before redevelopment, and we call on the RIBA to lobby for the rejection of the term’s use within this context in Government housing policy.

    Architects for Social Housing

  • Social housing activists protest at Stirling Prize ceremony

    Geraldine Dening's comment 16 October, 2015 9:07 am

    Like RSHP architects, Native Land claim that Neo Bankside has paid for the construction of 132 affordable homes, 125 of which are completed, 7 of which are still under construction. 82 of these are for social rent and 50 for shared ownership. However, 20 social rent and 18 shared ownership homes were already being delivered or had been planned by housing associations on three of the six sites. Neo Bankside’s actual contribution was a total of 94 affordable homes, of which 62 are for social rent and 32 shared ownership. Even on its reduced affordable housing, Southwark Council has lost 38 homes. For these figures, see http://35percent.org/neo-bankside/

    - Architects for Social Housing