From construction worries to continued Tube noise pollution, Barbican Estate residents are fighting on all fronts. Defoe House resident Helen Hudson has the update on local issues.
I write these pieces about a week before you see them and I compare them to the year before when I’m done.
Last year at this time I was commenting on what miserable weather we were having; but today is another sunny blue sky day and long may those last!
On the ups and downs of life, I’ve been renovating a long-unused studio flat (on a budget) for the last few days so City Hardware has been my second home and family.
The latest business rates increases have been tough on them (as with all high street retailers) but they also now have to contend with a recent doubling of their rent in a one-two-uppercut move which is already knocking out other shops on our parade.
They may be more expensive for some items (definitely not all) but their experience is essential if you are a DIY novice like me, so here is a plea to support them where you can, so that we have a chance of keeping them local.
I’ll let you know how my renovation goes and here is my written round of applause for Paul, one of the BEO engineers, who literally had to break apart my very glued up Garchey this morning.
You may have noticed the BEO email included an update from the City of London School for Girls. Clare James, who is chairman of the board of governors, has notified us of their decision to proceed with the expansion project.
Their intention is that they will only build on existing land and will require minimal space in Thomas More Car Park.
However, the statements are still vague enough to be worrying for the neighbours close by. Building on existing land might mean anything depending on how cynical your imagination gets.
It can only be hoped that the meeting they are planning to invite neighbours to – which should be sometime in the next six weeks or so – clarifies the plan enough so that residents can enjoy a worry-free winter.
On to the Tubes and, as I already mentioned last month, the recent works by the Transport for London (TfL) did ease problems for many residents, but some are still getting a high level of noise and vibration.
Our hardened team of expert residents continue to deal with TfL. As an example, there is an annoyingly short stretch of line under the west end of Defoe House where the track has a join that causes misery with every train.
TfL is communicating but will not, unfortunately, meet with House Groups for another couple of months.
So, to summarise, we have several prongs of attack at the moment: the City (port health and environment committee) is continuing its work on options and the legal status of TfL under the Railways Act; we are continuing to seek support from MP Mark Field and the GLM’s Unmesh Desai to keep up the pressure on; and a short piece in the Evening Standard and a provisional BBC Radio London interview shows that political and media interest continues.
TfL appears to be willing to communicate more fully and this includes an invitation made to the Barbican Association to walk through the tunnel to see the situation there.
Committee wise, last week saw the regular meeting between House Groups and the Barbican Centre when they let us know their plans so we can feedback and inform residents ahead of time if there are any events which might cause disturbances.
Plans are in the early stages for a mini-golf course on the Lakeside Terrace next summer. This would replace the picnic area we’ve had for the last two summers and would last for about three months from mid-June.
The plan to replace our 4B signs is back on, in a revised version. The latest idea is modelled on the style of the monolith on the Lakeside Terrace, with the sign in an opaque material surrounded by light which can be dimmed as well as turned off. The centre wants to arrange an opportunity for some residents to view the new proposal before they submit their applications.
The centre is also planning another Sound Unbound weekend for 18 and 19 May 2019 to include some music outside, like they have done in the past.
Still at the meeting and they also confirmed that the new switch off time for the Lakeside fountains is 8.30pm.
Lastly, there have been reports of non-residents in our gardens, so if you see someone in the private gardens who you don’t think is a resident, please call your local car park concierge or the Barbican Estate Office on 020 7029 3958 who will investigate.