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ASH protesters lack staying power

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Having protested outside the AJ120 event earlier this year, Architects for Social Housing (ASH) campaigners were at it again last week – targeting the RIBA Stirling Prize awards at 66 Portland Place.

Equipped with a loudhailer and tub-thumping pamphlets, the activists were denouncing the inclusion of NEO Bankside on the Stirling shortlist.

The project, they claimed, had ‘set a very dangerous precedent for the mechanics of social cleansing in London’.

But the security guard posted on the door for the evening was less impressed.

‘We had the Falun Gong guys holding a vigil on the pavement outside here every day for 15 years. That’s a proper protest,’ he told the AJ. ‘That lot [ASH] were done and off in an hour and a half.’


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Readers' comments (1)

  • 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

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