Councillor Tony Belton’s Latchmere September Newsletter (# 76)
- The Planning Applications Committee was held on the 12th August, but there really was nothing of any great significance on the agenda and no Latchmere application at all. However, did you see the fantasy proposal for a swimming pool in the sky, which got the following coverage in the Daily Telegraph?
“Glass-bottomed floating ‘sky pool’ to be unveiled in London”
The “world first” pool will be suspended 35 metres above the ground between two buildings near Battersea Power Station. Residents of London’s Embassy Gardens apartment complex will be able to swim between two high-rise blocks of flats via a “floating” glass-bottomed swimming pool 10 storeys above ground. Resembling an ‘aquarium in the sky’, it is said to be the first pool in the world to link two residential buildings.
The transparent and structure-free pool, designed by Arup Associates and developed by the Ballymore Group, will be 90 by 19 feet, encased in eight inch-thick glass, and have a water depth of around four feet. It will offer aerial views of the capital, including the Houses of Parliament. Residents of the planned luxury flats in Wandsworth will also be able to access a rooftop deck at both ends of the pool which will offer sun loungers, a spa, a bar and an orangery, while an additional bridge between the two buildings forms a dry walkway for both residents and visitors.
“The Sky Pool’s transparent structure is the result of significant advancements in technologies over the last decade. The experience of the pool will be truly unique, it will feel like floating through the air in central London,” said Ballymore Group chairman and CEO, Sean Mulryan. The floating pool is expected to be completed by 2018 and will be available for the exclusive use of residents at the 2,000 home complex where flats are priced from £600,000.”
Can this be serious? Is some developer really suggesting such vulgarity from the insanely rich at the same time as there is an acute shortage of housing in the city? If so then they really are asking for riotous responses! I should say that I have seen nothing from the Council to suggest that there really is such an application.
But I also notice that one Chinese billionaire building a hotel in Nine Elms took a $3 billion+ hit on 24th August Black Monday in the Chinese stock exchange so just possibly the bubble is really going to burst!
- Did you see that the Citizens of Battersea War Memorial in Christchurch Gardens (that’s the one in Cabul Road) has been named a Grade II listed monument. The memorial (photographed here) consists of sheltered public seating in the contemplative setting of a small neighbourhood green space where people can quietly pay their respects to civilians from Battersea whose lives were mainly lost in Second World War bombing raids. The monument was first unveiled in 1952, next to the ruins of a mid-19th century church which was itself bombed and destroyed during the war. The replacement church that now stands at this location – Christ Church and St Stephen – was built in 1959. Christchurch Gardens was the original churchyard but converted to a public open space in 1885.
- I showed a picture of the 19th century church in a recent newsletter and some time back reported that the old brass plaque had been stolen. The plaque has been replaced by the modern inscription shown on the left.
- And did you also notice the local story headed “Party’s over: Late night licence breaches spell end for troubled pub: Last orders: The Princes Head in Falcon Road”
- This story told of The Princes Head’s (pictured right) failure to have its licence renewed in June. The pub had announced its intention to fight the order but in August it decided to drop its appeal It will now close. A few years back I represented residents at a Licensing Committee hearing, when the pub was granted the licence but only with conditions, including conditions that the sale of alcohol at the pub should stop at 11pm Monday to Saturday and 10.30pm on a Sunday, regulations – a condition, which has been regularly ignored by the licence holder.
- In evidence till rolls from the bar showed that on occasion the last drink was served at 3.05am. The landlord claimed that the event was a party for his son who had paid for all drinks before 11pm and he was merely using the till to keep track of the drinks. On another occasion, 155 entries were put through the till after 11pm to the tune of £850 and in a final visit police people drinking well after closing time.
- In general, I very much regret the closure of pubs, which is continuing apace across the country but the Prince’s Head has been trying the patience of many of its neighbours for far too long. Let’s hope we get a decent replacement of affordable properties, possibly with some new shopping on the ground floor.
- I said last month that I was not going to say anything about the Labour Leadership contest and I am still not going to say who I am voting for because I genuinely have not finally decided – though I am pretty certain of it. However, I do think that Burnham, Cooper and Kendall are not doing themselves any favours by making their views clear about Corbyn in the way that they are. He is expressing views on a range of subjects, and most particularly the Iraq War, which are widely held by many across the country. To reject the man expressing those views so dismissively is not what I would call good politics.
- I am, however, going to support Tessa Jowell to be Labour’s candidate for London Mayor, despite her main opponent Sadiq Khan having been a fellow councillor of mine in Wandsworth for 12 years. Tessa’s track record of achievement over the years and in particular her role in both winning and delivering the Olympics for London gives her a claim, which I don’t believe any other candidate can equal. Some will claim that Tessa is too old for the job. Well she is about the same age as Hilary Clinton, who is running to be the US President, and much younger than many successful past Prime Ministers of this country. Her age is no problem for me and shouldn’t be for anyone else.
- In late August I (and my partner) spent a week on a narrow boat on the Llangollen Canal, on the border between Wales and Shropshire. You may have noticed that it rained rather a lot and we were almost drowned (I joke) by a tremendous thunder storm just as we were making our last mooring – ever tried tying the ropes, and avoiding falling in, in torrential rain? However, despite that, it was great fun including crossing two aqueducts and going through three tunnels. The canal has two major engineering feats. The ‘pioneering masterpiece of engineering’ by which the early civil engineers crossed the difficult landscape between Chirk and Llangollen has resulted in the 18 kilometre length being awarded World Heritage Site status by UNESCO in 2009.The aqueducts at Chirk and Pontcysyllte were built by the engineers Thomas Telford and William Jessop and were among the first to use cast iron troughs to contain the canal. At Chirk Aqueduct the trough is supported by conventional masonry arches and hidden inside the masonry, almost as if the engineers were not confident of their new material. But at the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct the trough is exposed and sits atop 120 foot high slender masonry towers. When you cross it by boat there is an exhilarating sheer drop on the non-towpath side! The picture gives just a little idea of what it is like crossing the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct – with no guard-rail!
- Stop Press (as they used to say, in the old days). Have you seen the notice on Latchmere Recreation Ground promising new improvement works? The Council’s intention is to remove the large are of tarmac and restore it to parkland. I don’t know how long it has been tarmac but it is good get that bit of the recreation ground back!
My Programme for September
- On September 12th, we will find out who the Labour Leader is and who is our candidate for Mayor. No doubt, there will be much discussion about that!
- On the 16th, I have the Planning Applications Committee and the day after the Education Committee.
- On either Sunday 20th September, I am doing my “history walk” from the Latchmere pub to the Battersea Arts Centre. It takes about 2 hours and is pretty well guaranteed to show you a new side of Battersea, even if you have lived here for years and years. All-comers are welcome and so if you are interested please let me know by email – though I should make it clear I charge £10 as a fee, which goes towards my election expenses!
- And, of course, there will be the Labour Party Conference, which after the mauling we suffered in the General Election and the announcement of a new Leader will, I am sure, be a fascinating week.
Did you know?
Not many people answered last month’s question: “Who or what is Poyntz of Poyntz Road and why would a Battersea road be called such?” and actually I must confess not many people seem to have been that interested! Bob replied saying, “as a Poyntz Rd resident it’s probably unfair of me to say Spencers, Manor of Battersea etc.”, which I accept as a correct but not very explicit answer. So for those, who want to know more:-
Poyntz was chosen as a Battersea street name as it was the maiden name of Margaret Georgiana Spencer (1737-1814), wife of John, 1st Earl Spencer, and the Spencers were “lords of the manor of Battersea”. They were a fabulously wealthy and fashionable couple, famous for sponsoring the artists of their day. Their eldest child was the notorious Duchess of Devonshire, the “star” of the 2008 film the Duchess, in which she is played by Keira Knightley.
Our Poyntz, Margaret, was the great-great-great-great-grandmother of Diana, Princess of Wales, herself at one point a Battersea resident.
And finally, talking of the Spencers and the Manor of Battersea, just how many places and names can you think of in Battersea, which are in some way related to the Spencer family. I reckon that I can reach at least a dozen without too much thought. How many can you get and please list them for me?