As you may know that despite stating in the planning and listed buildings applications for the refurbishment of the Community Centre that there were no plans to move the Estate Office there they appear to have been planning this all along. Because the planning permission did not permit them to move it in they have been forced to apply for change of use planning permission for the part of the building that they want to use.
The reason for moving the office is to provide more social housing in the base of Great Arthur House but we now learn that one of the flats is going to be used by St Barts and will do nothing to reduce the housing waiting list. Both are valuable uses but the City is essentially giving the Estate Office away to an organisation that is undergoing the biggest PFI contract in the country and which is not short of space.
I am opposed to this because the centre has always been for community use and a part of a valuable community resource is being taken away from us. There are other reasons. The office is too small for all the housing office staff. It has been suggested that the staff hot desk but what do the staff who don’t get a desk do? Huddle under canopies when it is raining? The new office has no windows at eye level so the desire of the staff to hide away that manifested itself when they put mirrored film over the windows of the existing office will make a comeback. Lastly the change may affect the financial position of the Community Centre as it may have to pay business rates which it previously would not.
My main fear is that this is the thin edge of a wedge and the Estate Office will find in the future that it needs more space and as time goes on we may not have a community centre left.
If you are not happy with this please go to the application page at http://www.planning2.cityoflondon.gov.uk/online-applications/applic... and make your views known.
What I am confused about is when the whole Estate was listed, that must have included the Estate Office in its present location? I know from experience how the City, some years ago, strongly opposed me having a new kitchen, quoting the Listing as a reason! This sounds hypocritical, and something like one rule for one, and another for others.
They are not intending to change the appearance of the Community Centre only the planning use class that part of it falls into which is why they applying for planning permission.
The irony of the kitchens in Crescent was that the City started removing the original fittings under the decent homes programme without getting permission themselves, which they had to apply for retrospectively.