Named and Shamed

Named and Shamed

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Squalid roads, buildings and locations in Croydon named and shamed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Croydon Regeneration

The Croydon Guardian reports that tonight Croydon, "once described as a 'complete concrete hell' by David Bowie, will announce a multibillion-pound regeneration plan that will, potentially, turn it into a beacon of sustainability, drawing on ideas from other European cities including Barcelona.

The architect Will Alsop, who once tried to reinvent Barnsley as a walled Tuscan hill town, is to mastermind the transformation, which has as its centrepiece 'a vertical version of the Eden Project' rising more than 30 storeys in Park Hill Park.
Effectively a giant greenhouse in the form of a skyscraper, it would become Croydon's primary visitor attraction with different species planted in 'sky gardens' on each floor.

Alsop has proposed hacking back 'a forest of car parks' choking the town centre, shutting eight-lane highways to through traffic and building a pedestrian-friendly 'emerald necklace' of parks.

The river Wandle is also to be brought back to the surface 40 years after it was buried in culverts and Alsop hopes to revive fishing for Wandle trout
."

The plans don't stop there:

"20,000 new homes will be built to increase the town centre population from fewer than 5,000 residents to 50,000. Glass apartment blocks will be connected by high-level covered walkways crossing the main Wellesley Road, which will be reduced from eight lanes to two.

Pod-shaped buildings will rise up on stilts and scores of public squares and miniature parks will be built throughout the town centre, inspired by the regeneration of Barcelona after the 1992 Olympics
."

Admirable in every way. However, I do have two caveats in respect of the ambitions of the council and the architect:

1 Why is the council wasting so much time and resources on trying to build the unwanted and unnecessary arena in Dingwall Road?

2 We have seen plans like this, eg high level walkways, before. Those of you with long memories may recall an exhibition held near the Fairfield Hall in the early 1990's. This was to showcase proposed designs for a "brave, new Croydon". We were treated to stunning models and drawings showing; glass walkways, communal gardens and elegant office/residential tower blocks. Needless to say, these plans came to nowt.

I wonder if any of us will live long enough to see these plans come to fruition?

3 comments:

Botanics said...

I am not sure that 'admirable' would be my reaction. I have yet to track down what they actually have in mind but the brief description left me bemused. Indeed had I seen someone giving a presentation on this and the reports are basically accurate then I'm not sure if I'd have laughed at them or just walked out embarrassed.

Park Hill is a nice park, one of Croydon's better ones, that just needs smartening up a little and is certainly not as embarrassing as some of the others. It is also tucked out of the way and not the most accessible of places. So why would anyone consider plonking a 30 storey tower on it? If you want to stick it in a park stick it in one that needs regenerating such as Ashburton Park which does at least have a tram stop next to it, and is also near a shopping centre that needs boosting. Better still have a reality check and don't do it at all.

Isn't the centre of town only having 5,000 residents a good thing? Why on earth would you want to dump another 45,000 on it? Madness.

OK so having Wellesley Road so wide and busy straight through town isn't ideal, but where is the traffic proposed to go? At least at the moment it is kept out of the way of more pleasant residential areas such as Addiscombe.

I am not sure what the beef with car parks is. The shopping centres certainly needs the multi-storey ones they have which aren't that intrusive really. Some of the open ones dotted around could do with mopping up or disguising but it isn't a problem that hits me.

Croydon is over developed already. The best solution for the Gateway site for example is neither the unfortunately named Ruskin Square or the Arrowcroft scheme, but a low density, low level development to give us some breathing space and lets us see the sky without actually needing to look vertically upwards.

Ken said...

Botanics,

I just don't see these plans ever coming to fruition.

That being said, an increase in the number of town centre residents would improve the area, and prevent it becoming the wasteland that it becomes every evening when the office workers and shoppers go home.

Ken

botanics said...

I am still not sure as to whether this was meant to be purely an exercise in blue sky thinking or whether it was meant to be more grounded and come up with serious ideas. Indeed I've still only seen the press reports on the subject so I don't know whether there are any really good ideas in there. Perhaps the thing to do is wait for the press to have their fun with the story, which should only take a few days, and then wait for the real story.

I am sure that the exercise wasn't cheap, whatever the point of it was.