There is a campaign happening to get Thames Water to allow public access to the Nunhead Reservoir. Sign this petition to show your support.
The petition has already got over 1000 signatures and counting, and its been up less than 24 hours.
We’re gonna be following this closely so watch this space.
More luxury housing threatens the Bussey Building.
A new plan for more luxury housing near Peckham Rye Station threatens the Bussey Building, as well as the CLF Art Cafe and Copeland Park. It is yet another example of large scale redevelopment in a South East London centre which no locals want or need.
This article by Vice explains the situation in some detail.
A twelve foot iron mesh fence topped with razor wire now completely surrounds the Nunhead Reservoir. If you did somehow get past the fence, ominous signs around the perimeter promise that you will be torn apart by guard dogs. So it’s fair to say that it is now inaccessible to the general public.
Res had been growing in popularity for a while, not just for people shooting music videos, but teenagers, uni students, and families, all there to see the best view in South East London if not the whole city. Something like 500 people turned up on fireworks night last year, and soon after, construction of the new and incredibly sturdy fence began.
The Reservoir is owned by Thames Water, a (privatised) utility company. The company allows members of the public to visit around 100 of it’s properties, but unfortunately the Reservoir is not one of them. For whatever reason, they have decided to divert what must be quite a big chunk of their budget towards keeping people out. And after a while, it seems like they might have succeeded.
Res was probably Essy magazine’s favourite place in London. Speaking for myself, nowhere else has as many good memories attached to it. I spent most of last summer up there. We used to go looking around the actual reservoir or sit on the edge of the hill staring at the city. Sometimes bare people would go, like forty or fifty, and you would see people from school you hadn’t seen in ages. A few peoples birthdays were spent up there, and I remember going there to celebrate the end of AS exams. I even took my dad up there once just to show him the view.
Of course, the number of people who went up there meant there were some problems. Noise or litter could have been irritating for people living next door. There was also vandalism, which was probably what sped up Thames Water’s decision to tighten security. But while there were problems, the reservoir was undeniably valuable to the local area.
Families would go up when it snowed for sledging, and would take their dogs for walks there. On sunny days, teenagers and university students would play football, fly kites, or sit around looking at the view. A lot of people would go on summer evenings, gathering to watch the sunset, and a few had BBQs or lit bonfires. Res also brought out a friendly, communal attitude in its visitors; complete strangers would feel comfortable starting conversations with each other, asking for lighters or offering food or drink. A few locals even used to go up with bin bags to clear rubbish. There was a conscious effort to preserve the reservoir, to hold on to what it was and prevent Thames Water from finding a reason to do what they have now done.
So yeah, the reservoir getting locked off is a loss to the community, and yeah, Thames Water do have their reasons. The fact is that the reservoir was too good to lose so suddenly, it was too important to too many people. It has been open and used by the public for over 150 years, and now it has been shut off by some dickhead company because they technically have a right to, and because it is no doubt the cheapest option. With town centres all over south London (Deptford, Lewisham, Catford Bridge, Elephant, Brixton, Woolwich, the list goes on) being pulled down and re-modelled for luxury housing, with the social cleansing that is taking place in the capital showing no signs of stopping, the closure of Res, however justified, feels like another blow, another case of the invisible “powers that be” moving in and taking something important away. It feels like another place in the list of places which is being changed or destroyed by unseen authorities for unseen interests.
So fuck Thames Water. Unfortunately, it’s quite unlikely that they’re going to reconsider. There are almost definitely legal reasons which mean the Nunhead reservoir can not be opened to the public again any time soon. We wrote them some emails and a letter asking them, but as expected, they haven’t got back to us. So if you want to see that view, at least for now, it’s bolt cutters or Blythe Hill.
London is currently the region with the highest wealth inequality in Britain, and by a long way. The richest 20% of people own 80% of all asset wealth, while the other 80% share the remainder. This situation is not improving either; inequality is rising at a shocking rate, with the so-called “recovery” only benefiting the wealthiest fifth of Britons. “Good for the economy” seems less and less like “good for the people” and more and more like “good for the rich”.The changes happening in London are clear wherever you go, with shiny towers and expensive flats rising up across the south and east, and town centres (Brixton, Brockley, Lewisham, Deptford, Stratford) unrecognisable, either already glassed over or filled with cranes and scaffolding. It might seem stupid to outside observers that Londoners would complain about the “improvements” being made to their city. Surely new facilities, new more attractive housing, new jobs in the financial industry, are all good things. It would be ridiculous to complain about change if it were making things better. But the truth of the matter is that gentrification is not making things better, but pushing out, sweeping under the carpet the places and people that are already here. The soaring cost of living is pushing Londoners out of the city, so that it can be redesigned by rich professionals from Berkshire. London’s middle class is being destroyed, either escaping into the ranks of the super-rich or falling into the poverty trap. You needn’t look further than Lewisham to see examples of what is happening. The areas around Lewisham and Deptford stations are under extensive redevelopment; the Deptford Project – headed by Cathedral Group PLC – has been particularly unpopular. A video was released to advertise the Deptford Project, outlining the details of the development. It explained that the Project is aimed at “high earning individuals”, with rapid train links to London Bridge and facilities inside the tower so that the residents need not venture out into actual Deptford. The video was taken off YouTube with a dislike bar looking like Darth Vader’s lightsaber. Construction was even postponed in the face of local opposition, although it is now near completion. The housing projects in Lewisham are very similar, one boasting a 13 minute journey to Canary Wharf. The advertising for both is clearly aimed at non-residents, people moving in from outside London to work in the City.
The redevelopment taking place across London is proudly held up by both the Conservative Mayor and Prime Minister, despite widespread protest. The famous New Era Estate campaign late last year and the March for Homes demonstration outside City Hall at the end of January were both obvious signs that people across London are unhappy with the situation. Day after day more legislation is passed to keep rents and house prices high, all under the banner of “Affordable Housing”. Last year, the “Help to Buy” scheme helped to keep housing unaffordable to normal Britons. What was framed as a scheme to benefit the middle classes was actually a policy intended to prevent the housing bubble from bursting, which will mean that those who don’t own property now have less prospect of ever owning property. This month new laws were passed allowing people to let out property for less than three months, which will push rents up further.
London is being stolen from Londoners and handed to the rich. The growing cost of living is beginning to push normal people over the poverty line or out of London all together. Prospects for young people feel very bleak, with a future in the city seeming increasingly unrealistic. Leaving home is becoming an impossibility, with even teachers and nurses unable to afford a house or a flat of their own. If the rise in house prices does not stop, inequality will continue to rise, and a lot of Londoners will lose their homes. Gentrification is not improvement, it is destruction.
Super safe for reading! ESSY xx
On the 31st of January, this Saturday, a march is taking place in protest of the ever rising house prices in London. The march starts at 12pm in two locations, Shoreditch, and Elephant and Castle, and finishes at City Hall. Rising house prices, as we have said before, are the biggest threat facing normal London residents. Make sure you come to the march, and sign this letter to show your support.
Midday on Saturday, Elephant, be there.