Podium Phase 2 Works – application now submitted

The planning applications for the Podium Phase 2 works have now been submitted. The relevant reference numbers are 22/01178/FULL and 22/01179/LBC (Listed Building Consent).

As you will undoubtedly be aware, the works are “for the installation of new waterproofing & drainage infrastructure. Works comprise the removal of existing tiled hard surfaces, membranes and soft landscaping, demolition of existing link building between Ben Jonson House and Frobisher Crescent, alterations to the existing entrance to Exhibition Hall including the construction of a new entrance portal, installation of a new waterproofing membrane across the site and the repair and replacement of drainage system and the reinstatement of a new tiled hard surface with a new soft landscaping layout……”

There is a huge amount of detail provided with the application which can be viewed on the Planning website on the links as shown above.

The Standard Consultation Expiry date for any comments/representations is shown as 10th February 2023. 

So is this finally the end of the yellow shed?

It certainly seems that it is and evidence of this is provided in many of the 100+ documents submitted with the application but the following two may be helpful in viewing the key elements of the plans – “Podium works link building demolition and plan” and the “Full public realm design illustrative master plan”.

This project has been subject to a long-standing consultation process and the proposals have been  displayed on the yellow shed between Frobisher Crescent and Ben Jonson House for some time. The Design & Access statements are always interesting, however, and Volume 1 and Volume 2 provide both some good historical context as well as the details of the necessity of the works.

So many blocked downpipes…..

It is probably worth pointing out that on Page 12 of Volume II in the section headed Downpipes, the following description can be found “The downpipes have been inspected by Flowfree. Of the 109 downpipes identified as starting at gully points within Phase 2 of the podium, 106 of them are partially or completely blocked. The pipes will need to be unblocked, repaired and/or replaced to allow the drainage system to function correctly”. This clearly explains why there is so much flooding on the Podium whenever it rains……but 106 of 109 sounds an excessively high proportion!  

For further information

Any further information can also be viewed here.

For any queries, please call 0800 772 0475 or email info@barbicanprojects.co.uk

Barbican Centre – HVAC replacement works in Frobisher Crescent

Another planning application from the Conference Centre has also recently been submitted. This one is “to undertake HVAC replacement works to improve the functionality, presentation, sustainability of the Conference Spaces on level 4 of Frobisher Crescent”. The planning reference number is 22/00942/FULL and can be viewed here. The Design, Access and Heritage Statement gives full details of the proposals and can be viewed here.

In brief and by way of background, “A major income stream comes from renting events and conference spaces in the Barbican Centre. A suite of conference rooms are located on level 4 of Frobisher Crescent. The current spaces have inefficient and outdated heating systems, which have been altered over time and are now comprised of a combination of different systems and elements, wall mounted storage heaters, underfloor heating, ceiling mounted electric heaters. The conditions in the rooms are not comfortable and this is leading to a reduction in rental income. The existing system is inefficient, uncomfortable for users, and detracts from the visual appearance and quality of the spaces”.

What is being proposed? “The proposal is to improve and rationalise the HVAC system serving level 4 conference rooms, removing existing chilled water pipework and electric heater batteries, replacing this with direct expansion heating and cooling coils on the existing air handling units. To improve the interior presentation and condition of the spaces it is proposed to replace the various heating units with a new radiator installation to corridors and reception areas, with wall mounted units that will be consistent in design and finish throughout each space. The new air handling coil and radiator installation would be fed from new air source heat pump installations which would be located in existing plant rooms on level 5 above, immediately adjacent to the existing plant rooms that currently house air handing systems and ductwork installations that currently serve the spaces”.

In summary therefore: “The Barbican Centre wishes to undertake work to improve heating provision and energy efficiency in order to improve the conditions within the Frobisher Crescent Conference suite. These works are essential to provide an acceptable level of heating and comfort for building occupiers. Care has been taken to ensure the proposals involve minimal alteration and neutral impact on the special architectural interest and historic fabric of the building”.

If anyone wishes to comment on this application they can do so here.

Barbican Centre – formation of community room in library

The expected planning application for the formation of a “Community Room within Library, with new steel screens and doors and alterations to existing screens” has now been submitted. The planning reference number is 22/00895/LBC and can be viewed here.

The background to and aims of this proposal were posted on this website on 5th September. However, there are a couple of interesting visual and detailed documents that have been submitted with the application which are worthy of viewing.

The first is a document titled “Photographs for Proposed internal alterations to Barbican Library to form a Community Room” and the second is the “Design, Access and Heritage Statement” which gives some more of the background and the proposals.

Designs for the proposed community room are also on display in the Barbican Library and a public information session is to be held there on Tuesday 18th October between 1pm and 2pm and again on Tuesday 25th October between 7pm and 8pm.

Trial excavation holes on the Podium

Barbican Podium Phase 2 works

The Barbican Estate has applied for permission for the “Excavation of 43 temporary 500mm x 500mm trial hole investigations across the Barbican Podium, land above Beech Street”. The application reference number is 22/00825/LBC and the full details can be accessed here.

This is, clearly, all to do with the Barbican Podium Phase 2 (BPP2) works.

By way of reminder the BPP2 development “encompasses a series of waterproofing, demolition and public realm works to the upper podium of the Barbican Estate, specifically the section of the podium that is primarily located between Frobisher Crescent and Ben Jonson House, above Beech Street Tunnel….Phase 1 of this refurbishment was completed in 2015. The proposed BPP2 development comprises essential repair works to the existing podium structure of the Grade II listed Barbican to address significant water damage, resurfacing to remove and replace damaged and non-compliant tiles and the implementation of a new landscaping scheme that will increase the amount of greening to address biodiversity and climate action targets of the City of London (CoL). Extensive consultation has been undertaken with the CoL, heritage stakeholders and the public throughout the development of these proposals as part of an iterative design process….

Prior to the submission of applications for planning permission and listed building consent for the BPP2 works, it has been agreed with the CoL that a number of trial holes/pits will be excavated to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the structures immediately beneath the upper podium, including the waterproofing membranes. These investigations will inform the delivery of the wider landscaping works in due course, the warranties associated with such works and the maintenance regime of the space thereafter. As a result of the Grade II listed status of the Barbican Estate, Atkins Limited has prepared an application for Listed Building Consent to the City of London Corporation, in its capacity as the Local Planning Authority, for the excavation of 43x temporary trial holes to allow for the investigations detailed above”…….

For further information please read the Design, Access & Heritage Statement. The location plan for the trial holes can also be seen here.  

Anyone wishing to comment on this application can do so here.

The Standard Consultation Expiry date for comments on this application is 3rd October 2022

Community room in the Barbican library

By way of a reminder, in 2019-2020 the Barbican Association agreed to support an application for CIL neighbourhood funds* (CILNF) for the creation of a room in the Barbican library that could be used as a community room and made available to residents and residents’ groups and other community groups – on a similar model to the Artizan Street Library community room.

(*The Community Infrastructure Levy Neighbourhood Fund (CILNF) is available to support projects being delivered within the City of London (the Square Mile) only. The scope of projects that can be funded by the CILNF is wider than that for general Community Infrastructure Levy funds ….. to allow local communities to determine their priorities and how the CILNF should be used).

The Barbican Library itself had produced plans to convert some of its space into a community room some years earlier but hadn’t secured funds from the City, so it was suggested that with BA support there could be a bid for CILNF funds.

The BAGC supported this proposal, as there has long been a need for community space on the estate and the Lilac room is of only limited use (see following section on the background and the proposal for the room). There will be no change to the exterior of the Arts Centre and the room will be for the use of the community. We are now aware that a listed building consent application is finally going to be submitted to the City of London’s Planning Department in the next week or so.

Background to the Library room proposal

The Barbican Estate itself has long lacked a community space: in the past a disused flat in one of the blocks has been used, as well as the old church hall by the columbarium – but this became unusable because of flooding and is now rented permanently to a children’s nursery.

Over the years the Barbican Association has campaigned for a proper community space that can be used by Barbican residents, and it is a topic that arises repeatedly at its Annual General Meetings. There is community space available on the nearby Golden Lane estate that is available to any City resident, but in the past it has been difficult to find out how to book it (albeit that is not the case now), but it is well used and therefore often not available.

When the City’s Housing Office moved to its current position within the Barbican Estate in 2006-7 and accommodation was built on level 02, the Lilac Room – a meeting space for the office – was made available for residents’ use. It is well used, but is mainly available only in the evenings, is an underground room with no lighting, has limited capacity, and is only useful for limited uses.

In 2016 the Barbican Association organised a public meeting for all residents in the northwest of the City (the Barbican, Golden Lane, and houses and blocks of flats within the surrounding wards), followed by a survey to assess demand. The public meeting was well attended and the survey got 242 responses, not all of them from the Barbican, which was considered a good response. Both the meeting and the survey results showed strong support for a community space for people living in the area.

The survey showed strong demand for a space that could be used for different community based activities – notably community organised activities, together with adult education and local clubs and societies, with some support for space that could provide for older people and people with long term conditions such as dementia and their carers. It also showed that most of those surveyed thought that the current provision for these activities was inadequate or poor.

Three models for providing community space were offered in the survey:

1)         a neighbourhood civic centre (combining public services and community space and uses)

2)         a community hall (like a traditional village hall) or

3)         a virtual community centre (a variety of spaces made available for community uses on a limited basis).

The neighbourhood civic centre was the most preferred option, with the virtual community centre the least favoured.

Although the proposed library community room doesn’t quite fit any of these models, it is the one closest to the neighbourhood civic centre model, being owned and run by the local authority and providing library services. “It would bring together publicly funded services…In addition there would be meeting rooms available at a low rate for community services.”

When the head of libraries put forward a proposal to turn space in the Barbican Library into a room for community use, similar to space that exists at Artizan Street Library, the Barbican Association gave the proposal its full support as it was thought that it would provide the sort of community facility the Association has been seeking for many years, for the benefit of residents in general, both in the Barbican Estate itself and in the surrounding area.

The bid

The initial bid was for funds to put together a project plan, finalise the design (the library had already done much of this work), get accurate costings, and get planning permission. The bid took some time to get approved (changes of City officers) but the money was granted in July 2021 and the work went ahead, led by Simon Cribbens in Community Services and Carol Boswarthack in the Library.

Discussions with the planners have determined that there is no need for a planning application (there is no change in use) but Listed Building Consent is needed.

The design work is completed (see details below*) and a planning application is about to be submitted in the next week or so. Quantity surveyors will produce costings, and once permission has been granted and the costs estimated, the BA in collaboration with the Library will put in a further bid for a CIL grant to fund the creation of the room.

The proposal

The proposal is to create a self-contained room in the south east corner of the library – in the area that currently forms a soft seating area within the arts reference library, overlooking the lakeside. It will be walled in to ensure it is screened from noise in the Barbican foyers and to create a self-contained space within the library.

It will have an entrance from the library but also a new entrance into the arts centre lobby to allow the room to be used outside library opening hours. Access out of hours will be by arrangement with the Arts Centre.

The room will accommodate up to 90 people, it will have a cupboard with chairs and tables to be used in the room, and there will be an overhead projector fixed adjacent to a lowered ceiling, with four speakers for the soundfield system.

The room can be booked by individuals or groups through the library. The library will charge but, as with the City’s other libraries, there will be a sliding scale in which residents pay the lowest, local community and charity organisations pay more, and commercial hirers pay the highest rate.

Creating a Better Barbican

Please help create a Better Barbican by volunteering to join the Leaseholder Service Charge Working Party that:

  1. Works with City Officers to improve the City’s processes and policies that ensure service charges provide good value when delivering the services defined in our Service Level Agreements
  2. Examines leaseholder service charges and the basis of their calculation, ensuring that information about service charges is transparent and is communicated effectively to residents and the Barbican Residents’ Consultation Committee (RCC)  

Membership of the working party is for three years. Residents with specialist knowledge and experience are particularly welcome.

The Service Charge Working Party reports quarterly to the RCC and its work covers six key areas:

  1. Reviewing and commenting on the service charge reports to be presented to the RCC 
  2. Examining past service charge expenditure to compare with current or planned levels of expenditure
  3. Reviewing draft service charge budgets and discussing with officers the basis on which these estimates have been made
  4. Engaging with officers to understand the processes and policies around achieving value for money within the service charge
  5. Considering whether more forecasting is required and review what is and isn’t currently forecasted
  6. Forwarding any relevant comments that may impact on service delivery to the Working Parties of the RCC including the Asset Maintenance Working Party and Service Level Agreement Working Party

If you would like to know more, or would like to volunteer, please email chairspeedhouse@outlook.com by Friday 15 July stating:

  • Your name
  • The skills/knowledge you have to offer
  • The areas of the working party’s activities to which you aim to contribute
  • That you will take the Minutes on a rotational basis
  • If you are a current/prior member of this or another Barbican Working Party

Current and prior members of this working party are welcome to apply as their valuable knowledge will complement the fresh perspectives brought by new members. Decisions on membership will be made by the residents delegated by the Barbican Residents’ Consultation Committee.

Thank you for helping to create a Better Barbican.

Christopher Makin

Chair Residents’ Consultation Committee (RCC) http://democracy.cityoflondon.gov.uk/mgCommitteeDetails.aspx?ID=188

New Barbican prohibition signs

The new Barbican Prohibition Signs finally received planning consent on the 6th July and have been ordered. There are enamel, colourful measuring 300mm x 600mm approx. 1 foot  high x 2 feet in width and scheduled to arrive by the end of August. 

The new signs will be sited in approved locations in the main ‘problem areas’ of the estate where skateboarding, parkour, cycling and other forms of anti-social incidents have occurred most frequently. Wherever possible they will be sited nearby to the existing byelaw signs.

They will be erected in the agreed locations across the estate in early September.

Housing Net Zero Action Plan Workshop for Barbican residents

Etude, the City’s consultants, have been working with Barbican residents, the BA, and the RCC to produce an action plan which outlines a starting point from which to make detailed retrofit plans for each of the City’s housing estates, including the Barbican.

Etude will be running an online workshop for Barbican residents on Monday 5th July, 6.30-8pm via Zoom.

The workshop will give Barbican residents an opportunity to see the outcomes of the City and Etude’s net-zero housing retrofit action plan for the Corporation’s housing assets as a whole, and on the Barbican Estate in particular. This could be the first step to greener and more comfortable homes for Barbican residents.

This is an exciting time and we urge you to attend this important workshop that you can register for here.

Regards

Christopher Makin, Chair RCC
Adam Hogg, Chair BA