Barbican Quarter Action Group. New Website

Barbican Quarter Action is the new campaign group set up to protect the Barbican Estate and its vicinity, including Golden Lane, St Paul’s, Smithfield, Farringdon  and Clerkenwell from inappropriate and ill-considered development by the City of London both now and in the future.

The current campaign is focused on the plans for Bastion House and the Museum of London site: Barbican Quarter Action is asking the City of London to rethink, reset and stop this unacceptable development.

To learn more and to find out how to join the campaign please visit the website www.londonstartshere.co.uk which was launched today.

Arts Centre Renewal Project

Barbican Arts Centre Renewal

Deputy Mark Bostock and BA Chairman Adam Hogg had an introductory meeting with Simon Fraser, Allies and Morrison and Asif Khan of Asif Khan Studio who have been appointed to deliver the renewal project.

Our objective was to establish links between Barbican Residents and the design team, express the initial thoughts of the BA renewal group and to explore how best to ensure that residents’ interests could be incorporated in the process.

We stressed that the Arts Centre was part of the Barbican Estate and should not be considered in isolation and that residents were unlikely to be seeking major changes.

Francis Pugh, Gilbert House resident, is taking the design team on a tour of the estate to enable them to see it from the residents’ perspective.

We agreed that it would be appropriate to set up meetings with residents in the early autumn to develop a dialogue.

We understand that they have incorporated the future of Beech Street into the project.

The submission the BA renewal group had made to the Arts Centre earlier on this year was shared with the design team and is set out below:

Arts Centre renewal – the residents’ view

We welcome it – residents want the arts centre to continue to be world class, with a rich and diverse programme that attracts diverse audiences

We ask you to remember:

*There’s a lot that is right with the arts centre at the moment. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

* That the arts centre is fully integrated with the residential estate, with residential blocks, the Centre, GSMD, Milton Court and Beech Street buildings such as cinemas, catering facilities and exhibition halls all interconnected.

*That the estate is a carefully designed iconic piece of urban design: respect the architecture and original design intentions and don’t upset the balance of the neighbourhood.

*The spaces, including major vistas between and under buildings are of equal importance to the buildings themselves. So too are the roofscapes, the architect’s 5th facade.

*That the centre of the estate is one of the most tranquil places in the City of London – and that is one of the features that makes it liveable

*The lakes and the lakeside are important features of the Barbican Estate – restore the lakes and fountains and maintain them

The design of the Centre means that the arts activities within the building create very little disturbance for neighbours. Please don’t increase noise and light pollution.

Currently, some of the restaurants/events spaces cause disturbance because of thin glazing and out of date mechanical and engineering services: these need to be brought up to current standards to remove nuisance and improve energy efficiency

Management of the public outside the building is an issue for residents: they need to be well managed throughout the day and night.

Specific existing points of irritation

The service road off Silk Street – causes noise nuisance to Gilbert House

The failure of the lake pumping and water aeration system has resulted in the loss of the lakeside fountains and deterioration in water quality in hot weather. It has also led to the loss of ‘white noise’ which helped mask extraneous sounds, as well as mitigating the urban heat island effect.

The Yellow Shed on Ben Jonson Highwalk – destroys an important vista along the whole Highwalk and its removal has been promised for years

The closure of the Frobisher Crescent Highwalk when the Centre is closed – restricts residents’ access across the estate

Suggestions

Make more of the Conservatory – and open it to the public more often

Keep the main entrance in Silk Street

Keep the library in the complex – it encourages footfall

Bring back evening music to the foyers

Have a prominent box office and information point

Steer heavy footfall on the Highwalk away from immediately above sub-podium flats

Provide plentiful electric vehicle charging points in car parks

Make the the balconies more biodiverse and visually interesting. Similarly the planting on Frobisher Crescent and the entire length of the Lakeside Terrace

Establish consistently high standards of design for all furniture, signage and temporary installations, within and outside the Centre. Ensure these standards are maintained and not eroded by ad-hoc interventions.

Once you’ve renewed the Centre, make sure it’s always well maintained.

Published

New interim manager to head Barbican Estate Office (BEO)

Rosalind Ugwu has been appointed to manage the BEO whilst a permanent replacement for Michael Bennet is ​sourced.

For the past ​seven months the ​Leaseholder Service Charge Working Party has been meeting with City Officers to get a fuller understanding as to how the BEO operates and identified key issues meriting a full independent review.

Rosalind will be focusing on these key issues, as well as overseeing the work of the BEO. They include:

  • The independent review of the structure and performance of the BEO (in conjunction with residents’ representatives).
  • Working with residents and their elected representatives on matters relating to the Barbican Estate.
  • Review of processes and procedures within the BEO (including appraisals, one-to-ones, training and development, absence management, performance management and reporting, reviewing and updating Job Descriptions). Some of this will, of course, link into the independent review above.
  • Proposals around cost savings and the wider financial position with the Barbican car parks (including resident consultation and liaison).
  • Customer service provision, customer satisfaction, complaints and estate surveys.
  • Staff morale.

We welcome Rosalind to her new role and the City’s commitment to work with the Residents’ Consultative Committee through the Leaseholder Service Charge Working Party on these issues.

Adam Hogg              Chairman Barbican Association        

Christopher Makin    Chair Residents’ Consultative Committee

Published
Categorized as RCC

Hustings for Elections to the Court of Common Council

The Barbican Association and Golden Lane Resident Association will be inviting all the candidates for the wards of Aldersgate and Cripplegate to present themselves to their electorate.

Cripplegate

7.00pm Monday 7th March at St Giles Church, Barbican

3.00pm Saturday 12th March at Golden Lane Community Centre

Aldersgate

7.00pm Tuesday 8th March at St Giles Church, Barbican

Published
Categorized as Events

London Wall West Consulation

Proposals  for London Wall West – make your views known by 31 December 2021

London Wall West is the area  which currently houses  Bastion House, a 1970s office building, and the Museum of London, which will be moving to Smithfield Market.

Following the decision not to proceed with the Centre for Music, the City of London  Corporation has produced early proposals on how the site might be developed. These proposals can be found on the website www.londonwallwest.co.uk.

The Barbican Association (BA) has already questioned the need to demolish rather than refurbish the existing buildings; how the decision is consistent with the City’s climate action strategy ; and whether there is demand for a further large office-led development. We shall continue to make these arguments. However  we are where, we are. It is  vital that residents comment on the proposals at this  stage as we seek  to make changes before they go before the Planning Committee in  Spring 2022.

The BA is strongly opposed to  the excessive height and scale  of the three new buildings. Building 1 on the Bastion House site would, at 17 floors, be three floors higher than the existing building with a much larger footprint. Building 2 on the rotunda, at 14 floors, would be more than double the height of buildings  on Aldersgate Street to the immediate  south. We estimate that the square footage of the new buildings is  at least four times larger than the existing ones, all designated for office use. The arguments we urge residents to consider when responding are:

The  proposals pay scant regard to the nature of the Barbican Estate and its residential community, including other residents in the immediate vicinity.

The  proposed  buildings are significantly larger in height and scale than both the existing buildings and also those towards St. Martins-Le-Grand. They  appear to project further to the north and south  of the existing Bastion House, negatively affecting Monkwell Square, the existing public gardens and the historic London Wall.

The   proposals are at odds with the conservation area status and open spaces, heritage, and architecture of the Barbican. In particular, the new buildings will completely fill the view north from St. Martins-Le-Grand blocking current views of a Barbican Tower against the skyline.

They will detrimentally affect access to day- and sun-light of those living nearby and add significantly to light pollution.

The public realm and community aspects of the proposals raise issues of  footfall , noise, security, maintenance, and existing access by vehicles. We are concerned that the lives of residents throughout the Estate could be severely affected.

Please make your views known through the website  www.londonwallwest.co.uk,  and also by emailing  at LondonWallWest@barbican.org.uk , or phoning on 0800 082 0464 .

Remember the consultation closes on 31 December 2021

GUILDHALL ELECTIONS MARCH 2022

Have YOU registered to vote?

The elections for Common Councillors, which include Cripplegate and Aldersgate wards, will be held next March to decide who will represent Barbican residents for the next three years.

Every vote counts as the elections are your way of ensuring your voice is heard and your priorities help shape the Barbican’s future.

Preliminary Ward Lists show that in some Barbican blocks over 33% of residents haven’t registered.

DEADLINE DAY FOR REGISTERING IS THURSDAY 16 DECEMBER

You must be registered to vote.

You can now register to vote online and should have received a letter in the post with a link and individual password. If you don’t have this information, request a vote or find out more at: www.speakforthecity.com

Car Parks and Estate Concierges

The paper below from the Chairs and Deputy Chairs of the Barbican Association and the Residents’ Consultation Committee following the City’s proposal to remove all four estate concierges from one car park and two from another.

This has been circulated to RCC representatives who are asked to discuss it with their residents.

They will have an opportunity to ask further questions at the RCC premeet on the 20th and to vote on it at the RCC meeting on the 27th.

This is for your information and we ask you to join in the consultation process with your House Group.

The City’s proposals to remove 6 Estate Concierge positions and the recommendations of the Chairs and Deputy Chairs of the RCC and the BA

This summary is for residents of terrace blocks and their block representatives on the Residents Consultative Committee (RCC) – the tower blocks already pay the full cost of their Lobby Porters. The details behind this summary were given at a BA / RCC meeting.[1] 

This is an urgent and important matter and the RCC asks all representatives to consult quickly and widely with their resident and leaseholder members preferably through open Zoom meetings to allow residents and leaseholders not currently in the Barbican to attend and contribute.

  1. The Barbican’s residential flats, mainly privately owned, sit above car parks owned and managed by the City of London Corporation (the City).
  2. Barbican leaseholders pay a quarterly charge to the City to cover the services we receive from our managing agent, the Barbican Estate Office (BEO).
  3. Part of this service charge pays for 36% of the costs of the Estate Concierges (Concierges) previously called Car Park Attendants. The remaining 64% is paid by the City as their contribution for the work Concierges do managing the car parks.
  4. This percentage split has slowly become more unrealistic as resident usage has increased substantially over the years.  Best recent estimates suggest that residents should now be contributing more like two thirds of Concierges costs if we were to fully pay our share of the 24/7 services we receive.[2]
  5. This year City Budgets have been reduced by 12% in an attempt to rebalance income and expenditure post Covid and the City’s contribution to Barbican car park costs has been reduced by the same amount leaving the car parks unable to pay all Concierges this year.[3]
  6. When budgets were cut a detailed review of individual car park costs and potential new income streams was carried out by the City.  This resulting in four car parks being shortlisted for full or partial Concierge removal – Breton, Bunyan, Defoe and Speed.  The two finally selected (Speed to fully lose Concierges and Defoe at night) were selected on their income/expenditure shortfall and the availability of ‘next-door’ concierge support.
  7. This proposed reduction of Concierge numbers has caused considerable outrage across the estate.  However, the Task and Finish Group investigation showed that this reduction is less to do with City cuts and more to do with the fact that we as leaseholders have not been paying our fair share of Concierge costs. 
  8. Further City budget cuts are almost inevitable in the next few years, the aftermath of Covid and Brexit will change British cities substantially in the next decade and the City of London will potentially be affected more than most.
  9. The consequences are clear – we will either slowly lose more Concierge posts or, if we wish to keep them, leaseholders need to gradually increase our contribution to the car park budget until we pay for our true share of Concierge time.
  10. We have estimated that the current average shortfall per terrace flat is circa £127 per year given the current level of City cuts.  This shortfall will obviously grow in years to come.[4]  Clearly if we agree to pay a surcharge to maintain Concierge levels large flats and houses would pay more and others, e.g. studio flats, would pay less.

A separate but strongly related issue:

  1. Representatives of the RCC and BA had for three months, prior to the Concierge problem surfacing, already been holding discussions with senior officers to work through the potential repercussions of both the Lisvane Report and recently rediscovered commitments made by the City in 2003 to give the RCC a greater say in decisions affecting the management and operations of the residential estate. 
  1. City officers have recently acknowledged that although much of the 2003 document is now out of date the spirit of the 2003 report is still valid and residents should have a more substantial say in how their service money is used.

Taking these related issues together the Chairs and Deputy Chairs of the RCC and BA believe that we do not have enough time before Concierge redundancies are due to take place to consider a number of detailed and, in some cases, complex financial issues.  Not least a detailed examination of the car park accounts and the way changes to resident contributions to the Cities car park account would be handled legally by the City in the longer term.

The interim solution we propose is essentially to buy time (6 to 8 months) by paying a greater share of the Concierge cost for this financial year. An average of £127 per terrace block flat. This is a payment for a service we are already receiving. We propose that we should also, in parallel, use this time to undertake a thorough review of all the services being provided by the BEO to find compensating reductions in these budgets but not in the front line services we receive.  

The alternative is the immediate removal of the Speed Car park Concierges and loss of night time provision in Defoe: other Concierge box closures would surely follow.


[1] A much fuller description of all these matters was given at a meeting on the evening of Thursday the 9th of September for the benefit of both RCC and BA representatives. If you could not attend please debrief a colleague who attended.

[2] The change of the role name from Car Park Attendant flagged to Estate Concierge flagged above shows how we have all long regarded these roles.

[3] This point is vital – this is not like previously suspect car park accounts with contentious figures for return on assets etc.  This is a real reduction in available cash to pay wages.

[4] We would have to pay something in the region of £600 per flat to completely pay for all the Concierge time we use rather than just cover the budget shortfall. Should we want to keep a full 24/7 service the time taken to reach this full payment is a matter of negotiation with the City and probably dependant on how fast other service charges can be reduced – see below.

Published
Categorized as Car parks

Results of the Poll on the Future of Bastion House and the Museum of London

Should the Barbican Association consider mounting a campaign to persuade the Corporation to carry out a proper study into repurposing the buildings as an alternative to demolition?

Yes 387 votes 88.15%

No 52 votes 11.85%

439 total votes

Our thanks to all who participated

The BA has written to Andrien Meyers the Chair of the Property Investment Board requesting a meeting.

We have been led to believe that the City has carried out a review which justifies its proposal to demolish rather than refurbish and have requested that he share it with us. We have also asked him confirm that a proper assessment of the embodied carbon in the existing and any proposed future building is being undertaken.

Latest on the future of the car parks and concierges

Further to our request to Andrew Carter for a meeting to discuss the future of the Car Parks and Concierges we can confirm that:

  • A joint Task & Finish Group is being set up to seek ways of managing the Car Parks in a cost-effective manner whilst maintaining levels of service to residents. Once terms of reference for the T&F have been agreed we will share them on the website.
  • A meeting to discuss the wider ramifications of the City’s cost saving proposals will be convened between the Chairs and their Deputies of the BA and RCC with Andrew Carter and officers and will take place in early September to allow attendees to return from their holidays.
Published
Categorized as Campaigns