Fighting on all fronts: Barbican battles rage on


What a spectacular summer we are having, where a slow, meandering stroll past the chiller cabinets at Waitrose is now a chilly indulgence.  

I have building works on both sides of me whose harsh drilling gifts me with a free alarm clock most mornings, so keeping the windows open is a sacrifice at the moment.  

I feel for the residents of Golden Lane and Breton House where a giant crane arrived this week to erect another giant crane heralding the start of their building works.  On the subject of generators planned for the site, my husband informs me that sugar helps deaden the sound but I don’t think he was talking about a cuppa.

The gardens are such a gift in the sunshine and, even though the grass is parched, we are blessed with an outstanding social venue. Defoe House residents enjoyed their regular summer party a few weeks ago and I’ve noticed a few kiddie birthday parties recently.  

A couple of friends have recently joined the Barbican Lawn Tennis Club which is a great deal if you want to practise, and they also have coaching (email [email protected] for more details).  

Slots are limited, but not sparsely so and beginners are welcome, so I’ll be taking my rusty arm along this week and the only thing I’ll have to overcome is my pride.

The Barbican Estate residents’ consultation committee met for an extra general meeting on 25 June and one of the interesting items of discussion was the asset maintenance and stock condition surveys which are likely to complete latest June 2019. This report will be very helpful in terms of future charges and issues such as Garchey maintenance.

It was reported that there had been a 56% response to the recent Garchey survey. At least 400 Garchey units are still in place, and some residents definitely want to keep them. Flipping now to the planning proposal to replace the large ‘BBBB’ signs with lit-up replacements, and there has been very strong opposition to this with nearly 50 written objections. We are waiting for a response to objections from the planning committee.  

The Beech Street Major Transformation programme is warming up with input from various City committees. It is recognised that (at least) the partial removal of traffic from Beech Street is critical to enable the widening of the northern footway, which then facilitates the redevelopment of the adjacent exhibition halls.   

Some traffic modelling has been done and the option with the least headache all round seems to be an eastbound closure to vehicles, so this is being investigated in more depth. They are also looking at changes to the junctions at either end of the tunnel, improved lighting, and public art.

We’re all gagging for less traffic down there but the end date is estimated to be autumn 2023, although they are hoping to speed that up some.  Documentation with figures has been circulated on this so if you would like to get down and dirty in the detail, then check with your house rep.

The Barbican Association General Council (our BA) met on 12 July and covered the construction noise consultation, TfL Tube noise, and the proposed City of London School for Girls expansion among many other issues.

Consultation over construction noise seems to indicate that we might have to suffer an extra hour of work in the week plus additional work on Saturday. The BA is seeking to clarify some queries and voice our concerns.

The TfL Tube noise project is going well and thanks goes to all the drivers: the City has agreed funding to monitor the impact of Tube noise in residents’ homes. Mary Durcan CC has arranged a meeting with the relevant member in City Hall.  

Adrian Bastow CC has also been active on the port health committee to raise this issue. City Matters is also keeping the pressure on and the BA met with TfL representatives after continued effort from the Tube Noise Action group. Thanks also to Randall Anderson CC and John Tomlinson CC for their ongoing support.

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London Assembly Member Unmesh Desai and local councillors have been keeping the pressure on TfL.

Barbara Robeson has drafted an online petition, supported by the BA, for a lift at Barbican station. Previously, TfL has said that property ownership issues and the space required means that this idea cannot fall into one of their current ‘step free access’ projects because it is too expensive. I’m sure the BA will keep the pressure on because the alternatives for wheelchair users and pushchairs are quite a schlep.  

Gilbert residents are interested in extending the hours of operation of the lake aerators, fountains and waterfall because the white noise works well for deadening extraneous sound, especially on summer evenings. I’m assuming this won’t be a problem when the students are not at school and it may also help deaden the noise from their repair works too.

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The City Corporation is currently consulting on a plan to turn Moor Lane into the Square Mile’s first ‘Ultra Low Emission Street’.

Meanwhile, the City is consulting residents on a project to close the south end of Moor Lane to all but ultra low emission vehicles. The chairs of the relevant house groups have been invited to give availability for a meeting after 24 July and Helen Kay is co-ordinating.

Finally, this is a heads up that the Barbican Estate’s 50th anniversary is next year and the BA is looking for ideas to celebrate.  So far, my ideas have only stretched to painting Gilbert’s railings gold, but I know that would go down badly! Let me know your ideas and I’ll pass them on to our BA team.

Helen Hudson has lived in Defoe House on and off since the 1970s, and is the residents’ representative for Defoe on the Barbican Association General Council.

Cover image by Riodamascus (Creative Commons).