Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Life, light and shadows

The past three weeks have been taken up by a combination of things, all on top of the daily routine. I am in the second week of a 'Lenton Living History' fortnight at The Crocus Gallery in Church Square, which is going well, but a little time consuming insomuch as I have to be there 11am–4pm. On the plus side, I am enjoying it, but it did take some preparation, which I could not have done without the help of others, especially Susan.

Then, last week I went to Central Hall in Westminster and did a presentation to a workshop on how councillors and local communities can work together better. My topic was 'Re-inventing doorstep services in Lenton'. There were about fifty people at the workshop. The fact that only three were councillors was a little disappointing, but since only six attended the conference, to have 50% of them present was an achievement of sorts. All this took time and I won't do it again. It was outside what I would now call my 'comfort zone' (which I will come back to in a future blog). I need to focus my time and energy, but then this is not a new thought, as some of you will know.

Today, I want to play catch up and draw your attention to three local happenings.
On Sunday, Susan and I went to Highfields Park and the Lakeside Arts Centre to see an exhibiition about the Wollaton Antiphonal and other medieval books in the Wollaton collection now in the care of Nottingham University's Manuscript Department. It was beautiful to see such works close up and a real privilege. Then we went and had tea at Dunkirk and Old Lenton Community Centre to celebrate 'Dunkirk in Bloom' week, which was organised by our friend Maurita and her colleagues in TRAD (Tenants & Residents Association Dunkirk). Our councillors and MP were there, as well as others we had not seen in a while, so it made a very enjoyable end to the afternoon. The pic above shows a row of three hanging baskets on Beeston Road, Dunkirk, looking towards the flyover.
This little corner of New Lenton is at the Derby Road end of Park Street. Behind the wall and trees is a long disused petrol station site, where a developer is planning to build yet another mini-supermarket (it will be our third), plus eight 2 bedroom flats. Whatever happens, I hope this softened corner of New Lenton will not be protected. It is not a site without its problems and the present view on the Derby Road is as such as that a decent, sympathetic, development is preferable to how it looks at present:
As you can see, the pavement at this point along the Derby Road (looking north-east towards the city centre) is very wide and the developers want to build the new shops and flats right up to the edge of the site. The only trouble with this proposal is that the tree will have to be cut back quite severely and even then will block the light from the windows of at least three flats. There is also a bus-stop here (see the bus shelter to the left of the tree) and there will be a single entrance/exit from the site just beyond the tree. I will be submitting comments to the planners, but I fear that indifference will reign and the developers will get their way. We shall see.
Whilst looking at the old garage site, I took this pic of Lenton flats from Park Street and wondered just how long the flats will be here? There is a shadow over their future and to talk about it seems to be a kind of heresy. What gives the topic an added sense of urgency is the fact that Nottingham City Council has decided to 'decommission' the Radford high-rise tower block. In other words, pull them down. They are considered a fire risk and this alone is probably enough to justify the decision, but to have made the decision without any consultation with the tenants is inexcusable and, I am sad to say, typical of the way Nottingham City Council treats the people who elect it and finance it as taxpayers and Council Tax payers.
So, what is the future of the Lenton's five high-rise tower blocks? Their future hangs in the balance, literally. The flats are clad in concrete panels, which were tested last year to see how long they have left (concrete panels can corrode from the inside, because of the metal mesh used to hold the concrete together). I have yet to see a published report of the findings. I will try and find out what has happened over the next few weeks and report back. Dave Trimble, our city councillor, says nothing is likely to happen in the 'foreseeable future'. In itself, good news, but whilst I trust Dave, I have little confidence that the City Council will that mindful of local feelings and opinions when it comes to making a decision. We shall see. In the meantime, I hope local residents and tenants will be mindful of the possibilities and will make it clear to the City Council that the future of Lenton's high-rise flats is something they must discuss with them before finalising their options when it comes to deciding the future of the flats. Otherwise…
…it will be like a scene from Dr Who. They will disappear before our eyes, panel by panel, floor by floor until they are no more. Even worse,the flats will be sold to a private developer for £1, who will do everything Nottingham City Council says is impossible and instead of working class people being the beneficiaries, it will be aspirational, young middle-class things wanting to live the high life in a great location. You have been warned.

Civil servants who are forced to take redundancy will have their payouts reduced from a maximum of six years to just one year's pay under a tough and "non-negotiable" new compensation scheme published by the Government today. The law is being changed to make this possible.

1 comment:

Inspector Clouseau said...

Your architecture there is so different. It's pretty cool.

Nice work. I came across your blog while “blog surfing” using the “Next Blog” button in the Nav Bar at the top of my blogspot blog. I occasionally just check out other blogs to see what others are doing.