Two of TV's brightest stars have waged war on six of London's ugliest blots in a campaign to highlight and improve derelict areas.
Joanna Lumley and Anthea Turner took part in the launch of the findings of Operation Eyesore, a people's poll to highlight and help breathe life into the most dismal parts of the capital. The scheme is run by The Central London Partnership, McDonald's, London Tonight and Capital Radio. Short TV programmes, with appearances from the celebrities, will be shown in the coming weeks, each focussing on a 'blot'. The first was shown on London Today on Monday. But ironically nearly all the sites are already being lined up by local councils for building and area improvements.
Elephant & Castle was voted the number one hate area, followed by the 'tagliatelle' of fencing and concrete outside Waterloo station. Operation Eyesore said that the warren of decay around Battersea Power Station had reduced the 'temple of power to something like a rotten, stubby tooth on the London skyline'. The poll, which had hundreds of responses, also pinpointed Camden Town tube station, Marble Arch subway and the filth clogging the shore of the Thames at St Saviours Dock.
Sir John Egan, chairman of Central London Partnership, said teams, including developers, councils and maybe architects, would be formed to draw up plans for highlighted areas. They would lobby the government for cash, but also look at the possibility of locals providing funding, maybe through local authority taxes.
Southwark council said Elephant & Castle would be transformed within a decade and would have a new shopping centre four times the size of the present pink centre. The council said: 'Identifying the site has strengthened our hand in seeking government support to help regenerate this area. The outcome of a £25-million bid for a single regeneration budget is expected to be announced this month. The money will help support projects as well as pump-prime a £600 million transformation of the Elephant & Castle.'
London minister Nick Raynsford, who launched the poll verdict at London Weekend Television centre, said too many people 'passed the buck'.
'Nobody accepts responsibility, somebody blames somebody else or the site is in mixed ownership. We want to highlight the bad areas, create a catalyst for action and say it is all our responsibility. This is especially important, coming two weeks after Lord Rogers' Urban Task Force report on urban regeneration on avoiding gobbling up more and more countryside.'