July 24 2014 Latest news:
by Rory Brigstock-Barron
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Royal Mail Group (RMG) representatives are set to meet with concerned community members today after two years of “silence” over plans for Mount Pleasant.
The Mount Pleasant Association (MPA) – which represents the five communities surrounding the nine-acre site in Farringdon Road – said RMG’s planner DP9 made contact with the group less than an hour after its “alternative vision” for the site was released last Thursday.
The group has been actively opposed to RMG’s plans since they were first released in 2012, saying the “fortress-like” high-rise complex, set to provide 12 per cent affordable housing among 681 flats, would hamper connectivity in the area and blight the landscape.
They also claim that despite making countless attempts to contact the Royal Mail over a two-year period, RMG have refused to meet or even engage with the group.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson is set to make a decision on the plans, which he recently publicly praised, after calling in the scheme at the request of RMG.
Edward Denison, secretary of the Mount Pleasant Association and lecturer at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, said: “After two years of silence, the Royal Mail’s planners DP9 have at last approached the MPA with a request to meet.
“We don’t know for sure that it’s because of the alternative vision but they called us 30 minutes after it was published in the Evening Standard.
“We’re still making it clear that this is not the meeting that we’ve always been asking for, but we understand that representatives of the Royal Mail will be at the meeting.
“The MPA still wait to hear from, let alone meet, the Royal Mail themselves.”
The MPA’s vision was drawn up by, among others, Francis Terry, the son of one of Prince Charles’ favourite architects, whose drawings helped stop the initial plans for the Chelsea Barracks site.
Instead of the high-rise towers offered by the current plans, “Mount Pleasant Circus” would be made up of old style mansion houses and, according to public space analyst Space Syntax, create routes through the development twhich are 75 per cent more accessible.
Create Streets, the social enterprise which has brought the alternative scheme together, also said it would offer seven per cent more housing, with 730 flats compared to 680.
RMG do not yet have a developer for the site and the MPA say that while their vision would likely cost more to build it would be far more valuable investors, which represents better value for the British tax payer’s 30 per cent share in the company.
The MPA have published a five minute video at mountpleasantforum.wordpress.com comparing the two schemes.
Mr Denison said: “It’s essentially the first meeting we’ve ever had so we need to establish who’s who and establish the grounds for future communications and bigger discussions.
“But we need to make clear where we stand and that they can’t solve everything with one meeting.
“We don’t want Boris to be able turn around and say that the lines of communication are now open, that’s not the case.
“Soon we will have a neighbourhood development plan and we will have a statutory right to be consulted, so they were going to have to speak to us sooner or later.”
A spokesman for the Royal Mail said: “Royal Mail has a meeting arranged with the Mount Pleasant Association on 9 July 2014.
“Royal Mail’s proposed scheme to redevelop parts of its Mount Pleasant site will create 681 new homes, including the maximum reasonable proportion of affordable housing. It will also create a significant amount of new publicly accessible open space, new thoroughfares and jobs in this inner city area, and enable the continued operation of our mail centre.
“Royal Mail held two public consultations on its proposals before submitting its planning applications to the London Boroughs of Camden and Islington in April 2013. During these public consultations, we engaged with local residents, community groups and businesses, as well as elected representatives and the planning authorities. As a consequence of our consultations, the density of our scheme reduced by 32 per cent and the public space increased by 45 per cent from our original proposals.
“We believe our proposed scheme will greatly contribute to the regeneration of this inner city area, create new jobs in the wider economy and enable us to retain our mail processing and delivery site which is vital to our operations, and the service we provide to our customers, in London.”