Residents Call for Objections as Tower Hamlets Homes Major Works Threaten Lubetkin’s Vision for Sivill House

Tower Hamlets Homes plans to replace windows in Lubetkin’s famous Sivill House threaten to “destroy the integrity of the composition” says leading architectural authority on Lubetkin’s work John Allan, The Twentieth Century Society and residents of the block.

The landlord’s submitted proposals for the new windows include raising the ‘transom’ (the horizontal aluminium bar that divides the bottom pane and upper windows) by 30cm/12 inches. They claim, this is to improve the safety of the building. However residents claim window’s safety has never been an issue in its 53 year history and their suggestions for child-safe window locks were rejected by Tower Hamlets Homes.

On the proposed changes, Allan said “…The original window frame proportions – as with all else in Lubetkin’s designs – were very carefully considered, such that the transoms very deliberately align with the balcony rails across the façade….”

“…Raising the height of these transoms will violate this relationship and result in a disturbing discordance, throwing the whole elevation into disarray…to alter this ‘dialogue’ would be to fundamentally destroy the integrity of the composition…”

“…It should be recognised that Sivill House is unique in Lubetkin’s oeuvre…and this refurbishment project should be approached with exactly the same degree of conscientiousness as would be expected in the conservation of any other designated heritage asset…”

“If Building Control have any safety concerns…they should be addressed by other means internally…rather than by any alteration to the essential geometry of the exterior façade.”

Sivill House Residents and the CTRA are calling on local residents to object to the plans in order preserve Lubetkin’s legacy of which they are very proud. The deadline for objections is 14 November 2019.

***UPDATE*** – THE DEADLINE FOR THE PLANNING CONSULTATION HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO 25 NOVEMBER 2019.

Gascoigne Greening Project – Have Your Say

In 2014 Green Dreams Landscape Architects produced a master plan for Gascoigne Estate after extensive consultation with residents. Now the funding has been approved, Green Dreams have been appointed to deliver the project to make Gascoigne Estate a greener and more pedestrian friendly space.

The CTRA strongly supports this initiative and is happy to support the Gascoigne Neighbourhood Association with their project.

Please look at the proposed plans and images available and complete the survey so the Gascoigne Neighbourhood Association can make sure the plans reflect resident’s wishes.

CTRA to plant 135 Trees on Columbia Estates – Volunteers Needed

The CTRA has taken delivery of 135 trees donated to us by the Woodland Trust. The sapling varieties have been specifically chosen to encourage wildlife and will of course grow to improve our air quality, absorb sound and improve the look of our estates.

Species include: hawthorn, rowan, blackthorn, silver birch, hazel, common oak, dog rose, hazel, crab apple and dogwood.

We now face a race against time to get them into the ground. The plan is to plant the majority of trees outside George Loveless House on the Dorset Estate and on the corner of Hackney Road and Columbia Road. Others will be placed around the estates.

We need strong volunteers to help us plant these trees that will improve our estates. Email gardening@columbiatra-org-uk to get involved. Planting will start this weekend on Saturday 17 November 2019.

Tackling Drug-Related ASB – A Community Art Approach

A year ago today, Weavers Community Action Group (WCAG) commissioned street art by the Columbia Road Cartel. It appeared on the streets around Columbia Road E2 where open drug dealing had escalated to unprecedented levels

The street art was the local community’s answer to what had been a lacklustre response by local agencies to an issue that was affecting daily lives. Fast cars driven by drug dealers were putting pedestrians at risk and residents felt intimidated by users congregating in numbers on local streets. Petty crime was increasing.

To the WCAG’s surprise the artwork received widespread media attention with coverage in local, national and even international press and broadcast media outlets. Members of the WCAG were invited to appear on local radio, London news programmes and national programmes such as The One Show, Inside Out London and BBC Politics Live.

Highlighting the issue brought agencies and local residents together and a great deal of work followed:

  • Members of WCAG joined the local Safer Neighbourhood Panel and were elected as vice-chairs
  • The WCAG was invited to meetings with local Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs and senior police officers to discuss the issue
  • The London Borough of Tower Hamlets’ Neighbourhood Management Pilot, launched in April 2017, planned their approach in part consultation with WCAG
  • The WCAG visited the local CCTV office and identified ways to streamline reporting of drug dealing so that it could be captured on local cameras and agencies could be dispatched to the scene more quickly
  • The local council worked with the WCAG to put a case forward to BT to remove the free mobile call feature in local InLink boxes that were being used to arrange drug deals locally
  • A police operation, supported by WCAG’s co-ordinated local reporting resulted in over 100 arrests. Impact statements by WCAG members were used to inform resulting sentencing
  • WCAG members met with residents’ groups from other parts of the Borough and housing associations to share best practice

One year later, thanks to the subsequent response of local agencies and hard work of the WCAG the situation in Columbia Road has greatly improved. Incidents of drug dealing on our streets have fallen. Of course it is not ruled out that street dealing has moved to another location and living so close to Shoreditch and its growing night time economy brings new ASB challenges. The WCAG continues to work with agencies to monitor drug dealing on our streets and reduce the incidents and effects of anti-social behaviour on our community.  

__________________________________________________________________________
The Weavers Community Action Group (WCAG) is made up of local residents, representatives of residents’ groups and business owners living and working in the Weavers Ward who are concerned with the escalating problem of drug dealing, use and drug-related anti-social behaviour on our streets and in or near our homes. As this is an important issue for local residents, the CTRA has taken an active role within the WCAG since its creation in April 2018.

“It has been a busy year!” – Your Outgoing CTRA Committee’s Annual Report

At the Columbia Tenants and Residents Annual General Meeting on Monday 9 September 2019 the outgoing Committee delivered their report of the year.

In it the Chair, Kevin McKenna outlined the key areas the CTRA has focussed on this year:

1.Dealing with things that make living here more difficult:

  • ASB – trying to reduce the amount of drug dealing on local streets and the disruption this causes in our blocks
  • The new building on Baroness Road and the major works renovations to several of our blocks – Making sure resident’s concerns are listened to by THH, the council and the building contractors
  • Problems related to the market and local social establishments – Loud busking, outdoor drinking being too noisy late in the evening, into the night.
  • Filming on the estates – trying to reduce the problems caused by too much disruptive filming happening on our estates

2. Supporting things that make living here better

  • Estate improvements (“curtilage” works) – making sure that residents opinions on these are taken on board
  • Improving our green spaces with community gardening projects
  • Enabling community social events
  • Forming links with other community groups – so that we can have an even bigger impact

The Chair went on to say, “The CTRA covers nearly 1000 homes. The CTRA can only achieve the things you all ask of us through collective action. One neighbour volunteering an hour our two every month or so, all adds up to a huge potential contribution to the quality of life of everyone who lives in the area. Please continue to volunteer and please encourage more of your neighbours to come and be part of all we do.”

Vice Chair, Penny Creed commented that “It has been a busy year!”.

Read the full report here.

New Front Doors

The Columbia TRA has been hearing reports that some residents have been experiencing quality issues with new front doors installed by Tower Hamlets Homes and/or their contractors as part of major works programmes. So that we can gain a clear understanding of the scale issue we request that residents contact us with a short outline of any problems they have encountered with their new door. Email vicechair@columbiatra.org.uk

Community managed gardens blooming

Columbia TRA have taken over the management of a number of flower beds from Tower Hamlets Homes in the last year and you may have noticed the difference in colour around our estates.

Beds around Sivill House, Chambord Street and George Loveless House have already benefited from the hard work of our volunteer community gardeners.

As we take on more beds, we will be looking for more residents to help plant and maintain them either on a regular or ad hoc basis. Email gardening@columbiatra.org.uk to register your interest.

Chambord Street. July 2019
Sivill House, July 2019