Stop the Blight


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Save The Villas – Save The Trees

Nudged back into consciousness by local campaigns to Save the Green, and Save Hornsey Town Hall, I started taking an interest in campaigns to save the neighbourhood. The Green was never my stand out thing but I had some sympathy for the town hall. I’d gone to a gig there. Taken a photo or two that pleased me. I had a connection. I began to learn that the town hall had been taken over by creatives; bringing dance, song and cheer to the community as well as providing a home for entrepreneurs. I KIND OF THOUGHT THIS MAY BE IMPORTANT. Developers moving in on community assets, listed landmarks seemed less important.

I never thought the issue would come home to roost next door to me or even in my street as it has with Save Highgate Library – another site that has brought me pleasure, resides in my history, but the Shepherds Hill Villas are up for grabs. I remember when we first started to petition for them. I felt quite shocked about the depth of feeling people had on the issue. Its not that they knew where the Villas where situated or why they are important within this particular conservation area, nor that anyone held any particular affection for them. It was more that they held a regard for the past, saw values in it, and indeed they  had been blighted in their own lives. Young children spoke about the horrible house. Their mother told me; locals had campaigned against it but lost and that the children where now afraid of the building – that it was ugly. I’ve talked before about an 80 year old woman who wanted copies of the petition herself so she could collect signatures for us. She didn’t owe us anything. The Villas were streets away. She was true to her word.

Last week I made contact with Stop The HDV -a Wood Green Campaign Group fighting for the houses that they will lose to yet another collection of developers. People wanting to remain in their community with their own people of long standing. On my way home from work I’d pick up my free copy of the Standard and read about Save Hackney Wick, come in, sit down to watch the news and note the efforts of another campaign group to Save the Sutton Dwellings. Today on facebook. I find Save Tin Pan Alley. Not that I ever felt any sympathy for the Soho nostalgics but really; is nothing sacred.

It seems to me that a Developers Blight is running right across London. One way or another it seems to be a curse of the filthy lucre. Developers and sellers profit. Councils invest and make money to preserve services. Its the way the world turns. Yet…. people are making a stand, people are making statements about what is important to them, we campaign using our own resources are own energies. The little people versus the corporations. And sad to report, save for those who occasionally win, it looks like we are losing, it looks like we lose and change happens and change is rarely,  development wise, an improvement on what went before.  And yet through our despair of loss we fight on.

Someone once said to me, the law favours property over people. I say, change the laws. Give the people more chance of living in the world they prefer to live in.

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