Tag Archives: gentrification

Stokes Croft versus Tesco

Right, so I’ve missed out on all the excitement, but anyhow, here’s the story so far on the campaign to prevent the old Jesters building on Cheltenham Road from getting turned into another Tesco Express…

8th February

11th February

12th February

13th February

14th February

20th February

15th March

16th March

17th March

18th March

19th March

20th March

23rd March

Related links

I leave the last word to Al Shaw from Redland People/Trym Tales:

“…I am surprised that on the official press release by Avon and Somerset Constabulary announcing the eviction the force find it necessary to assist Tescos in their PR campaign by quoting a Tesco spokesman uncritically in connection with the company’s desire to open the controversial store.

“It’s one thing for the police to enforce the decision of a court (which is part of their job); when they act as a mouthpiece for a huge company which is widely disliked and criticised by people from a range of social and economic backgrounds, it seems to me that the force has stepped over the wrong side of a line and manifested a poitical bias.”

[Edited to add links.]

Banksy stormed!

Banksy stormed!

In the early hours of this morning, Banksy’s ‘Mild Mild West’ on Stokes Croft in Bristol (UK) was repainted by a member of Appropriate Media, presenting an alternative version of this ‘alternative Bristol landmark’.

Through this action, Appropriate Media asks ?What is the value of street art??. How much time and money will be spent to restore this urban ‘masterpiss’ by urban masterpisser, Banksy.

Come on, you only care about it cos its a Banksy and he sells his lazy polemics to Hollywood movie stars for big bucks.

Come on, you only care about it cos makes you feel edgy and urban to tour round the inner city in your 4×4, taking in the tired coffee table subversion that graffiti has become.

Graffiti artists are the copywriters for the capitalist created phenomenon of urban art.
Graffiti artists are the performing spray-can monkeys for gentrification.
We call for the appropriate and legitimate use of public and private property.

We are taking matters into our own hands

We will not seek permission

We will retaliate

From Appropriate Media

ETA (1):

Just to clarify, I am not Appropriate Media, I just saw a post about it on Bristol IndyMedia – so anyone itching to dole out some death threats, hate mail, notes of congratulations or whatever, please bear this in mind 😉

ETA (2):

Some media coverage:

Bristol blogs on this:

Resisting yuppification on Ashley Road

Ashley Road resister fists 'Places For People'

I popped up the road earlier to see how things were going at the 87 Ashley Road squat eviction resistance (hmmm, bit of a mouthful there, sorry).

To rewind a little: until yesterday, there was a squat on 87 Ashley Road, but it was evicted in the morning. Former squatters of the Places For People-owned building (and possibly others) then managed to evade security, bailiffs and police, and gained access to the roof. They have been there ever since.

According to people on the ground supporting them, they have ample wet- and warm-weather gear, food, supplies and other such useful materials up there.

The reasons for the resistance are outlined in a leaflet:

Dear Neighbours

At 10.am this morning (12/11/08) police and bailiffs smashed their way into 87 Ashley Road evicting some of the occupants. Several people are on the roof, while contractors and bailiffs rip up the inside to make the house uninhabitable.

We are resisting this eviction because…

  1. We need somewhere to live.
  2. Taking your housing needs into your own hands is a positive thing, especially when social housing has such long waiting lists.
  3. This building has been left empty for at least 4 years, during this time both Places for People (P4P) and Bristol Churches (previous owners) have made no attempt to renovate or convert it into social housing. That’s 8 potential flats that have been left to rot. And for the past 6 months no.87 has housed more than 30 people.
  4. P4P have no planning permission to use or renovate this building. This morning a P4P representative said that the only active planning application they have is for April 2009, where 87 will contain a ‘site office’ for the ‘development’ of 16 other ‘shared ownership’ properties in the St. Pauls Area.
  5. St. Pauls UnLtd have opposed P4P’s plans because they did not provide enough social housing or affordable housing.
  6. Existing P4P tenants complain about the standard of service of maintenance in their existing properties.
  7. Everyone has a right to a home: Squatting is legal, necessary, and provides an alternative to the stranglehold of debt that underpins the current financial crisis.
  8. Tying people into 30+years of mortgage debt is an illusion of housing security, in the light recent repossessions.
  9. We are part of this community and against all privatizations, repossessions and evictions.

P4P are more concerned with money than housing those in need they are the biggest UK housing association and have the highest paid chief executives in the housing sector (Director salary: £258k in 2007). Housing associations were set up to fill the gap left by Thatcher’s destruction of social housing provision. They cannot legally make profits, but make up for this with fat bonus checks for the fat cats. That’s taxpayer’s money going to fund extravagant lifestyles

For more information and sources about P4P please check indymedia

http://bristol.indymedia.org

‘Direct action is better than any waiting list’ Squatters handbook. (Or mortgage!)

87 Ashley Road eviction resistanceI used to squat, because I was too poor (despite a full-time – but minimum wage – job) to rent privately, and locked out of the housing list. The property I squatted had long been emptied by its owner, a housing association. Despite assurances to its previous tenants that it would be repaired to an acceptable standard and that they would be permitted to return to it, it was not, and they weren’t. I and my fellow squatters were able to quietly live there for nearly six months before the housing association even realised we were there. We negotiated a situation with the housing association whereby they would not institute eviction proceedings against us, and in return we would vacate the premises (with fair notice) when they were ready to make good the building for the return of its tenants. In its life as a squat, this building helped house around twenty people, and helped seven or eight get onto the housing list, where they might secure decent long-term accommodation.

After I left, there was some kind of breakdown in relations between the squat and the housing association (I’m not sure of the details), and I believe an eviction was carried out. The building was then left to rot until the housing association was able to discharge its obligations under law, and then to sell it on the open market to a private developer. The tenants did not return. The building is now in the private sector, another piece of prime inner city real estate lost from the social housing sector.

Therein lies the rub – just because an empty property’s owner is a ‘social landlord’, it does not necessarily follow that the landlord wishes to use the property to house poorer people who want to rent. Often the landlord will look to the market, and decide that ‘shared ownership’ or open market sales would be more desirable – desirable to the landlord, not to those it is meant to be housing.

From what I understand of the situation at 87 Ashley Road, the building was not cleared of squatters so tenants from the housing list might be rented a home there, but instead to sell off. This is not about ‘places for people’, this is about profits.

The roof resisters seem like they might be there for a while. I’m sure they would welcome support on the ground, even if only for a few minutes.

Stokes Croft 3, gentrifiers 1

Okay, so we lost the battle over Lakota, but it seems like the groundswell of dissent in the area over the massive changes to the cultural and social makeup of our area proposed by developers is finally being heeded by the council… In quick succession the plans to put up apartment blocks and student flats on the sites of Clockwork and the Attic Bar and adjacent to the Bell have all been thrown out!

For more info on this and other developments, stay tuned to the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft and the St. Paul’s Unlimited Community Partnership websites, and check my Nu.Bristol pages.

PS An interesting little vid with Chris Chalkley of PRSC, SC resident Keval Shah and Hogge from the Cube talking about the area and the challenges it faces:

Pity the fool

I try and make sure all comments on here get published – everything bar blatant spam. Even the mental stuff goes up. The only comment I can remember deliberately not approving was one which did the rounds of Bristol blogs, which claimed to be ‘outing’ The Bristol Blogger.

Then after a week away, I noticed this little gem on the comment waiting list. I’m not prepared to sully my lovely Yuppification section with its ignorant, prejudiced, sub-literate witterings, but for the sake of openness I present it here on the wire for you to marvel at.

A few points:

  • Note the meandering, bitter tone, and the switches of target between the area of Stokes Croft itself and its inhabitants, signs perhaps of an addled liver and a restless (and I use the word in its broadest sense here) mind;
  • Appreciate the erratic use (or absence) of eliding apostrophes (“Its full of”, “You can’t go”);
  • Gasp at the daring omission of letters from words – a triumph of expressiveness given poetic balance by the unnecessary addition of letters elsewhere (“The are whores everywhere”, “heroine addicts”);
  • Applaud the confident yet entirely evidence-free assertions of FACT (“Most residents of the croft ARE claiming benefits”, “There are hostels everywhere”), which are sometimes strikingly specific (“It has a crime rate equal to that of Hackney”, “Most residents are…shooting up in the hallways of the 51º02 block”);
  • Take your hat off to the author’s heroic refusal to be bound by outdated concepts of consistent capitalisation or formatting (“the full moon”, “the UK”, “the croft”, “Hackney”);
  • Revel in the bold failure to connect any of the numbered points to the commenter’s initial statement that “Stokes croft needs to be developed”…

I could go on, but I’m sure you, dear reader, have more than enough meat between your teeth already.

Bye bye Lakota, hello yuppies

Just got back from the council committee meeting. They voted for demolition of Lakota and the Coroner’s Court. One committee member voted against, another seemed to have absented himself under instruction from the chair. A further three said they did not think the development proposals were very strong, or expressed reservations about going against conservation findings made by the council itself, but still voted to demolish.

There were passionate contributions from the floor, both in favour and against. Roughly speaking those against demolition focused more on conservation and historical interest, which may with the benefit of an hour or two of hindsight seem a tactical error, whilst those in favour presented it as a benefit to the local community in terms of housing and employment. It was precisely this area that I feel the proposals were weakest – go figure. There were also a handful of paid consultants and silent suits lurking around, and the council officers presented pretty strongly for demolition, despite admitting that the development did not meet various criteria.

Oh well, lengthier post mortems to follow, which seems appropriate for a mortuary. PRSC put up a strong presence in the room, as well as there being various concerned local residents and civilians such as myself, so I imagine the fight is not yet over.

PRSC Says: Stop the yuppie developments! Save Lakota!

Right, so I been a lazy little blogger, been away, yadda yadda yadda, but anyhow, that busy bee Chris at the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft has done my work for me by putting out another call to arms to the people of the Croft and the STP…

As you may know, Lakota – one of Bristol’s most significant nightclub venues, and a progenitor of local underground dance culture – is under serious threat of being knocked down to make way for (yes, you’ve guessed it) more yuppie flats. I wrote about the earlier stages of all this back in 2006, and sadly Clockwork has now fallen to the speculators; but we do still have the chance to execute a blocking manoeuvre on the profiteers wanting to socially cleanse our neighbourhood by sticking together and routing them on the Lakota issue. How can we do that? Well, over to Mr Chalkley:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: FINAL COUNCIL PLANNING MEETING TO DECIDE WHETHER THE LAKOTA NIGHT CLUB WILL BE DEMOLISHED

TIME AND VENUE: WEDNESDAY, 11th JUNE 2PM, at the Council House.

The Lakota building is up for demolition. A development of The Lakota and the Coroner’s Court is proposed (See attached images), which will mean the demolition of the former malthouse, now the Lakota, and the construction of 57 residential units, ground floor commercial units, to include a restaurant/cafe and an element of affordable business space.

The Lakota is a former malthouse which has its origins in the 18th Century… and falls within the Stokes Croft Conservation area, and is identified as “an unlisted building of merit.” 197 letters and e-mails have been received by the Council, of which 21 were in favour of demolition, the rest being against… most people citing the loss of the club… Be warned: this is not a valid reason as far as the planning is concerned…

We invite you to peruse the relevant documents, and there are many (See the two links at the bottom of the email)… and would ask you to attend the meeting…

Everybody has a right to speak at this meeting for up to three minutes, to put one’s point of view. In order to do this, you must contact Steve Gregory at the Council by 12 o’clock the previous day [midday, Tuesday 10th June], with details of what you are going to say… Tel. 01179224357 or email steve.gregory@bristol.gov.uk

The proposed development has some merit, but we feel that, even though the Lakota building is in poor repair, and is a simple utilitarian warehouse building, there is no valid reason for its demolition. The reason that Stokes Croft is “Known as much for its individuality, culture and diversity, as for its perceived decay” is precisely because it has managed to retain an eclectic mix of historic buildings that have managed to escape the blandification of commercial re-development. It is arguable that the reason that the Lakota night club came into existence, is that the building was not locked into one specific use… Essentially it is a large box.

With developments taking place all over the City currently, we believe that it is increasingly important to retain whatever historic fabric that remains within the City Centre, and to retain buildings that offer the possibility of many different uses. By creating more accommodation, we remove these buildings and potential space from the possibility of public/creative/commercial use. In fact, we believe that to demolish the Lakota would do the City an enormous disservice, and risk setting a precedent for further re-development throughout Stokes Croft that neither ‘preserves’ nor ‘enhances’ its status as a Conservation area.

Jamaica Street Arts Studios in the centre of Stokes Croft is an old industrial building which was similarly under threat in the early 1990’s. By working with English Heritage, the owners managed to keep the building alive, and it is now a flourishing Arts studio complex, and houses over 40 working artists in a refurbished historic building.

One thing is certain: If we demolish the Lakota, we cannot un-demolish it a few years later… So, if there is the slightest element of doubt, we must work to preserve it…

If you wish to speak, then please get in contact Steve Gregory Tel. 01179224357 email steve.gregory@bristol.gov.uk
Or… contact us [PRSC], with a view to co-ordinating our response.

————————————————————————–
Lakota planning app on BCC website
Description: DEMOLITION OF LAKOTA CLUB BUILDINGS.
Address: Lakota 6 Upper York Street Bristol BS2 8QN
Council reference: 08/00155/LC
Online Reference: Not Available
Date opened: 25/Jan/2008
Status: Current

Coroner’s Court planning app on BCC website
Address: Former Coroners Court Backfields And The Lakota Club Upper York Street Stokes Croft Bristol BS2 8JW
Council reference: 07/04779/F
Online Reference: Not Available
Date opened: 01/Nov/2007
Status: Current

REFURBISHMENT AND CONVERSION OF THE FORMER CORONER’S COURT TO RESIDENTIAL USE (19 UNITS) INCLUDING DEMOLITION OF LATER ADDITIONS AND EXTERNAL ALTERATIONS. DEMOLITION OF ADJOINING LAKOTA CLUB BUILDINGS AND REPLACEMENT WITH A MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT INCLUDING Drawings can be large files. We recommend that you click on the “thumbnail” links. The quality of the image depends on the quality of the original submission.

People’s Republic of Stokes Croft

Turbo Island Studio,
37, Jamaica Street,
Stokes Croft,
Bristol,
BS2 8JP

Mobile: 07866627052
Email: chris@prsc.org.uk
Web: http://www.prsc.org.uk

Oh, and the pic directly above? That’s the coroner’s court standing in for Peckham Town Hall in the 1996 Only Fools And Horses Christmas special, ‘Heroes And Villains‘. Guess it’s time for our councillors to decide which they are themselves…

PRSC says: People of Stokes Croft, assert yourselves! (Urgent action required)

Summary

  • The Attic Bar on North Street (right at the St. James’ Barton end of Stokes Croft, formerly the Eclipse) is subject to a planning application which could see it demolished and turned into ‘serviced apartments’.
  • The last day for getting comments and objections to Bristol City Council is this Friday (23rd May).
  • You can see the application online on the BCC website, where you can also have your say.
  • The Attic might not be a great boozer, and it may have been built over the (metaphorical) ashes of rock/goth/pool pub the Eclipse, but it is at least a social space, unlike ‘serviced appartments’, which are creeping up all over the shop, almost as much as yuppie flats and Unite student blocks.


This is the text of an email from Chris Chalkley of the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, which he is asking people to forward to others with an interest in the changes being made to our local area.

The Planning Process… How we can influence what happens in the Croft…

As you’re probably more than aware Stokes Croft is under massive threat from corporate developers who propose to demolish perfectly repairable and in some cases listed buildings and replace them with unaffordable, unattractive new flats, Currently, PRSC know of 7 separate planning applications of this nature that are being considered along Stokes Croft by Bristol City Council. Proposals vary but all threaten the existence of the great variety of exciting underground / cultural assets we have in Stokes Croft and were they to go through, Stokes Croft would look much like the waterfront does now – bland and monotone, sanitised and gated. The exciting mix of creativity that has attracted people from all over the world to the area for decades would be lost to the mists of time…

All planning applications are published online, and anybody can examine the proposed plans and comment on them… The Council are obliged to take account of these comments.

We will from now on make a point of alerting as many people as possible to all proposed developments within the area. We will endeavour to inform you as best we can as to what’s being proposed and how we can all – from our various individual but connected pressure groups / crews – make our feelings about such developments known.

There are a couple of crucially important things to make clear about how we can make use of the planning process:

1) If enough members of the public ‘comment’ on an application once it’s online, the Council are obliged to call an open committee meeting where people can turn up to make their objections known in person.

2) It is our understanding that anybody may speak at the subsequent committee meeting, for up to 3 minutes, to voice their concerns, challenge the legality etc. of the application in question so long as they apply to speak at least 24 hours before the meeting. This is a legitimate method by which residents, concerned parties, activists can directly address the decision makers and show the strength of feeling and raise legitimate objections. It is the first line of resistance, and organisation between concerned groups will make our voice stronger. It is essential to realise that, just because an application has been submitted, the result is not a foregone conclusion…

By using our legitimate rights judiciously, we can bring force to bear… The planners are not used to masses of people demanding to speak…
In essence, engaging with the process by peaceful means, and working together, will buy us all time in which we can form stronger bonds among our various groups and research our objections more thoroughly, making our case for preserving Stokes Croft as the cultural hub it is, a lot stronger.

ACTION REQUIRED NOW PLEASE…

The Attic Bar.. Part of the Full Moon

There is currently a planning application for the demolition and rebuild of the Attic Bar, next to the Full Moon, on North St. at the bottom of Stokes croft.

The deadline for comments and objections has been extended to Friday 23rd May – THIS FRIDAY

Whilst it falls in the curtilage of the Grade 2 listed Full Moon, the Attic itself is not listed, but is subject to Listed Consent, which means the impact of any changes to the Attic has to be considered with reference to the historic nature of The Full Moon. However, The Full Moon will stay as it is. The Planning Application is to fully demolish the Attic bar – originally built in 1715 as the bar for The Full Moon Hotel and coach house. It was probably partially bombed, then altered in 1955 and was fully renovated in 2006/7. While the Attic building has fluctuated in height over the years, and been almost entirely rebuilt, it is said to have retained its ‘character of age,’ in perfect keeping with the Full Moon, the second oldest known pub in Bristol.

The proposed plans show a complete rebuild, with extra height, and space for “16 serviced apartments” above. The design for the new Attic development is modern, with a curved roof and some of the design attempts to follow the style of the original building. The view from the Full Moon’s courtyard in between the two buildings would be arguably less attractive and the general way the open space there can be experienced now will change. The design statement says that this is to extend the backpackers hostel, which would not be a bad thing necessarily. The current owners have a reputable small company with eco-friendly philosophies.

We would like to know why the entrance to the new building faces directly onto North Street? If the building is intended to be part of the Full Moon backpacker hostel, as the plans suggest, then you’d have thought the entrance would be within the curtilage of The Full Moon and facing into the courtyard. The one-bed apartments are being proposed as short term accommodation for visitors, and could not be sold individually unless the owners applied to the council for ‘change of use’ (from commercial to residential). With the entrance facing directly onto North Street, the division of the new Attic from The Full Moon becomes eminently possible and and is a point, in our view, worth considering.

The Full Moon and Attic is advertised for sale subject to planning permission, and is being marketed as a ‘development opportunity’.

Importantly, this case (should the Attic be demolished?) goes to a closed committee (i.e. the council will discuss this case alone, without the public) on 30th May. They have verbally agreed to extend the time in which people can make comments until FRIDAY 23RD MAY (this Friday). Therefore, if you have an opinion concerning this proposal that you would like the council to consider at their meeting, you must add your comment, by Friday 23rd May at the latest. You can read the full planning application for yourselves, view proposed plans and make your comment here [on the Bristol City Council website].

If there are sufficient objections, then there will be a meeting which will be open to the public, to discuss this proposal…

Apologies for the lengthiness – it’s a confusing business!

Peoples Republic of Stokes Croft,
Turbo Island Studio,
37, Jamaica Street,
Stokes Croft,
Bristol,
BS2 8JP

Mobile: 07866 627 052
Email: chris@prsc.org.uk

I’ll add more links tomorrow, interweb’s playing up tonight 😦

PS I learned a new word from that – ‘curtilage’ 😀

Related links

It’s called gentrification…

Y’all Amos and Andy?!

Just a reminder:

On Saturday 12th April there will be street protests against the gentrification of Central Bristol. There will be two meeting points:

11.00am Albany Green, St. Pauls: Join the ‘Bristol Space Invasion’ Carnival Parade as part of a europe wide weekend of action against the privatisation of public space

Joining with…

2.00pm Broadmead (Centre): ‘Save Stokes Croft from Gentrification’ party parade going to College Green

NYC gives the finger to hip hop-hating, rackrenting, profiteering property speculators!

Looks like 1520 Sedgwick over in the Bronx – putative home of hip hop – has won itself a stay after local authorities in New York blocked a speculative sale of the building… 🙂

1520 is not just a significant historical location, it’s also home to many working class Noo Yoikers under the Mitchell-Lama affordable housing programme, so it’s also something of a spanner in the works for the profiteers and gentrifiers.

As Kool Herc himself says:

It’s not just about 1520, it’s about all affordable housing. Every family needs a piece of the American dream.

Help save the home of hip hop!

Kool Herc’s 11/8/73 1520 Sedgwick House rec room party flyer

On August 11, 1973, in the first floor recreation room of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, hip hop was born. It was on that day that DJ Kool Herc, known as the founder of hip hop, and his sister threw the first hip hop house party. Scholars, musicians, and the media widely recognize 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, aka General Sedgwick House, in the Bronx borough of New York City, as the birthplace of hip hop, a uniquely American musical genre and culture that has taken over the world.

In recognition of its important place in American history, in July of 2007, 1520 Sedgwick was declared eligible to be listed as a state and federal landmark. Congressman Serrano of the Bronx honored Sedgwick and Kool Herc in the Congressional record.

General Sedgwick House is currently part of the Mitchell-Lama scheme, under which, in the words of the New York Times, “private landlords receive tax breaks and subsidized mortgages and, in turn, agree to limit their return on equity and rent to people who meet modest income limits. The landlords are allowed to leave their contracts after 20 years, and the rate of those choosing to do so has accelerated since 2001.” And it seems that 1520’s owners, BSR Management, want out of the scheme. Cue property bandit Mark Karasick, who’s brokered deals for ‘skyline trophy’ buildings like the Bank Of America Center in San Francisco, and Chicago’s 311 South Wacker Drive, and who has been showing an interest in the home of hip hop – but not for musicological reasons. Karasick, it seems, has a record of buying up social housing in the Bronx and then opting out of affordability programmes and selling on at market prices, at a tasty profit for his good self, naturally.

Kool Herc tells it like it isNow, after negotiations between the tenants, the owners and Karasick, it appears that BSR Management are prepared to drop the Karasick deal and sell to the tenants… For $14 million, or more than $8 million over the value of the building through controlled rents, according to the tenants!

Ahhh, the sweet smell of rackrenting, gentrification and good old American corporate greed!

But the tenants aren’t giving up without a fight – they’re working with organisations like the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board and Tenants & Neighbors to strike a deal with the owners that will “convert 1520 Sedgwick into a permanently affordable, limited-equity cooperative [and] save 1520 Sedgwick as affordable for the next generations of New Yorkers”. And this morning, to signal their willingness to fight for their building, they held a press conference with Kool Herc in their historic rec room to publicise details of their buy-back plan.

You can find out more about the campaign – and donate to it – at the Save 1520 website. And check the Save 1520 MySpace for updates 🙂

More coverage:

Whudat, AllHipHop, Soundslam, more NY Times (2007 background story),