In advance of the Public Inquiry due to commence shortly we wish to publish comments by Nina Edge of the Welsh Streets Home Group which originally appeared on the Building Design Website on 24th July 2014.
These comments are published in their original unedited form.
"Clarification of the Welsh Streets and Constructive Thinking collaboration.
Welsh Streets Home Group (WSHG) accepts the decision of LCC to consent
to Plus Danes Proposal for the Welsh Streets. If at the eleventh hour
the designs can be amended and improved, we will accept that too!
Welsh Streets Home Group, along with English Heritage sought a proper
design review of Welsh Streets design proposals, due to widespread
concerns the design proposal in March 13. We would still welcome
discussion regarding the potential to amend the existing Triangle plans
to deliver higher density new housing, with potential for increased
refurbishment, mature trees, small traders and street pattern. Given
the proposed houses remain small, and the plots large is room for
alternatives to be developed with no loss to the number of units
delivered, and hence no loss HCA development grant.
commissioned some sample design options in Autumn of 2012 and Summer of
2013. The idea was to catalyse debate, improve design awareness and
measure market interest in existing houses. Our feedback exceeded that
which Plus gathered in response to the Triangle proposals, and showed
massive interest in refurbished units and the unique park-side feel of
the area. It was hoped to engage the scheme’s managers in incorporating
these findings in design development, and thus avoid the critical
attention the Triangle work is now attracting. The designs were sent to
the chief executives of LCC and Plus Dane who have not responded to the
Design Diplomacy initiative.
It is not possible nor appropriate
for a small un-funded residents group to produce full scheme drawings or
proposals that would be laughable. It is an achievement though for WSHG
to have tabled discussion designs that show moderate amendments could
deliver a scheme more suited to an important inner suburb. In doing so
they had hoped to address objections, and dispense with the threat of
legal action and delay. Any delay via call in or other legal challenge
threatens a long-suffering community with further anguish.
within the power of Plus Dane the client and developer in this scheme,
to produce an amended brief if they want to deliver a scheme that sits
well in urban design and planning recommendations. Until or unless Plus
Dane show an interest in upping the scope of their design ambitions a
scheme will see houses in some cases smaller than the terraces they
replace presented mostly in semi detached and terraced squares. The
squares around vast 40m x 50m blocks of private gardens all fenced in
individual 20m lengths. There is no criticism of Triangle, the scheme’s
architect, who we appreciate have merely responded to the client’s
brief. When the scheme is built we will see the number of homes on the
site halved, and a scheme that reflects the client’s need to spread the
HCA grant very thinly over a huge site, as if to create a situation in
which mass demolition becomes necessary. Presenting designs in response
to this paucity of design ambition for Toxteth was a tactic to move the
polarized and highly personal debate forward."