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Michael Ball

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Comments (42)

  • Comment on: Garden Bridge failure should be likened to Kids Company scandal, MPs told

    Michael Ball's comment 12 June, 2019 1:19 pm

    The beneficiaries of Kids Company were some very deprived children in South London. The beneficiaries of the Garden Bridge Trust were supposed to be... What? Thomas' glittering career? Boris and assorted senior officers at TfL and Lambeth Council who looked to be getting significant feathers in their caps?

    And who were the beneficiaries of Boris' beneficence? Who got the £43m of wasted public funds? Bouygues, who got £20m for a cancelled construction contract; Arup, who got £9m for an engineering and design contract; and Heatherwick, who got a significant portion of Arup's fee as a design sub-contractor.

    TfL clearly believe that if they repeat the same nonsense people will believe it: but, as the AJ has demonstrated, £9m of public funds should not have been doled out to the Garden Bridge Trust since at least two of the six conditions of payment had NOT been met - the GBT didn't have access to the land to build the bridge, or an implementable planning permission, or the funding to complete it, or the money to maintain and operate it. The truth is TfL paid out that money in Feb 16, the fag-end of Boris' tenure as Mayor, to render it far more difficult for Boris' successor to cancel the project - and Sadiq almost fell into the trap by initially announcing that it would be cheaper to complete the project than to cancel it... Luckily he then invited Hodge to investigate and found out otherwise. Why Sadiq hasn't sacked the TfL Commissioner for such incompetence or treachery is anyone's guess.

    Meanwhile the beneficent bounder Boris stalks the land, untroubled by his cavalier deceit - indeed he fashioned the current political crisis with his cavalier deceit over Brexit, and is currently proposing his candidacy as Premier on a similar cavalier deceit. Can no one rid us of this troublesome fiend?

  • Comment on: Pilbrow & Partners reveals fresh plans for London Fire Brigade HQ overhaul

    Michael Ball's comment 8 May, 2019 10:16 pm

    And poor old U+I (strapline: "Regeneration Rethought"), who pride themselves on doing a good job, yet after two years of pre-app have managed to come up with a scheme which the Council have now designated a Departure Application...

    All applications depart from the plan, of course, but a Departure Application departs so incontrovertibly that there simply is no pretending otherwise. Although U+I will still try - senior 'nice guy' Richard Upton has been doing just that, denying that it was a Departure application - hasn't he talked to Lambeth?

    But it's hardly surprising since they've hardly talked to anyone - a shameless absence of meaningful consultation over the past two years: all that they managed were some drop-in exhibitions for a few hours every six months, advertised a few days in advance... And yet they knew that the Lifschutz scheme had been stopped by a well-organised community opposition, right through to public inquiry.

  • Comment on: Pilbrow & Partners reveals fresh plans for London Fire Brigade HQ overhaul

    Michael Ball's comment 8 May, 2019 1:48 pm

    Poor old London Fire Brigade! Gorgeous listed purpose built HQ on the river next to the only UN building in the capital... and what do they do? Mothball it for 15 years while they twiddle around with developers attempting to overturn the planning policy specific to this site, which clearly states (1) it's industrial land (2) towers are not appropriate!

    First came LDS/Native Land 2006-2013 with their 15 storey towers of swank, minimum affordable housing ('viability'), and an under-the-table side salad of £44m to LFB coffers, to pay those clever senior LFB executives, presumably. They were refused on the daylight impact (QC: "shouldn't be over-prescriptive with BRE guildelines in dense urban areas"; inspector: "shouldn't you be more protective of daylight in dense urban areas?")... So along comes Pilbrow/U+I with more of the same, only this time its 26 storeys of swank!

    Are the LFB providing the definition of institutional madness - making a mistake and repeating it? Or will Lambeth 'Garden Bridge' Council provide the definition of institutional madness by granting approval this time? Or are we collectively providing the definition of madness by letting developers, fire chief execs and council leaders all collect a handsome salary at our expense whilst leaving public land to rot for 15 years?

    Poor old London.

  • Comment on: London ‘should follow New York’ in banning glass towers

    Michael Ball's comment 26 April, 2019 8:25 am

    At last somebody in power who is talking about embodied energy! Not only are most towers appalling in terms of maximizing density whilst minimizing material mass and embodied energy; not only do they usually have a built-in obsolescence; but the real estate economics of towers means that they render perfectly serviceable buildings uneconomic to refurbish and upgrade, which therefore end up demolished, wasting even more embodied energy.

    What is utterly disgusting is that these arguments have been available since at least 2002 (when the City Corporation commissioned a report on embodied energy) but have been ignored by most professional architects, as well as policy-makers and decision-makers, and indeed have been entirely dismissed by Inspectors and Secs of State on the few occasions that they have been referred to. We have wasted 20 years when we could have been addressing the climate change catastrophe on this issue, while allowing 600+ towers to be approved in London.

    These monuments to folly - and their architects - will be looked on aghast by those still standing when the sea has drowned most our big cities.

  • Comment on: Foster + Partners’ Tulip tourist tower approved

    Michael Ball's comment 2 April, 2019 12:45 pm

    It's neither a tulip nor a bulbous penis extension, but a unicorn's horn sans unicorn - such a fitting epitaph to these ends of days, bringing the logic of thirteenth century san gimignano to twenty-first century Britain

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