Architects working on plans for a new 24-storey tower block for students at the Elephant and Castle in London claim they have been threatened with violence in an alarming escalation of opposition to the scheme.
Last month a male staff member of Assael Architecture, which is designing the controversial block, was directly threatened by a man, described as a 'local resident', who told him that he knew he was working for the architect and said 'you'd better not be involved in this scheme because I know your face'. Practice head John Assael said the 29-year-old Part 3 student, Gary Stanesby, was threatened in broad daylight while taking some photographs on the site. Stanesby, who is a formidable six foot five inches tall, was not hurt.
The incident came amid a series of three consultative meetings with local residents over the scheme where tenants of the Draper Estate, which is close to the new tower, raised their fears about the scheme (see aj Letters 30.3.00).
The 700-resident block is being built for students from a number of London's art schools, but representatives of the 350 residents claim that the new transient student population will 'upset the balance of the local community'. They are also angry that the proposals will block out views from the adjacent 25-storey residential tower, Draper House.
Assael said that the threat of violence has soured the consultation process which had been entered into voluntarily.
'Its ugly. We've had three meetings already but it raises the question of why we should do the consultation at all,' Assael said. 'I don't even feel like going down there in the day,' he said