Information about the protest exhibition Spectres of Modernism: Art Against Overdevelopment can be found on our home page. Here we’re providing an outline of the specific campaign this cultural demonstration was organised to support.
If Taylor Wimpey’s The Denizen luxury apartment complex is built then local homes on the Golden Lane Estate, Barbican Estates and Viscount Street will be overshadowed; as will be Prior Weston School, The Jewin Welsh Church and Fortune Street Park. The park will lose its afternoon sunshine from September to March. At 3.30pm the park is packed with children and parents leaving Prior Weston School whose main entrance borders this open green space. If the sun is shining many stay and play until it sets; but should The Denizen be built the park will be plunged into complete darkness well before school leaving time for half the year. Likewise, residents in the Bowater House council block will lose up to 70% of the light coming into their living rooms.
Taylor Wimpey are already trying to sell this unbuilt and over scaled monstrosity, and their agents Frank Knight and Savills are marketing it to property investors in London, Hong Kong, Malaysia and elsewhere in the Far East. If they are built then many of these luxury apartments will never be lived in, they are destined to be buy to leave ghost homes; and with the price tags going as high as £2,375,000, they aren’t cheap! As the blog Reclaim EC1 has already noted much of the advertising for The Denizen is wildly misleading:
Fraudulent Denizen promotional blurb aimed at residential property investors: “The Barbican is the ancient heart of the City of London, a place steeped in history. During the 17th century, it attracted the entrepreneurial, the conspiring and the artistic. In the area’s many coffeehouses, plans were laid, and great minds met. William Shakespeare, Ben Johnson and John Milton all worked here. It’s a legacy we see today in the Barbican Centre and the City’s enterprising spirit.” The Barbican Complex is actually a world-class example of brutalist architecture built around fifty years ago. It is located in a neighbourhood called Cripplegate, and it lies beyond the original city wall; obviously this is not ‘the ancient heart of the City of London’ because it was not actually a part of the original city at all, it lay outside it! Likewise, in Shakespeare and Johnson’s time the area was notorious for its brothels. This is why Johnson among others refers to the place as Pict-hatch; which was also the name for the studded split entry doors that were a feature of bawdy houses of that time. Taylor Wimpey should be reported to the Advertising Standards Authority for their blatant misrepresentation of Cripplegate Without’s location and history!
Denizen Property Investors Go To Hell! by Pippa Henslowe, Reclaim EC1, 28 August 2017.
Taylor Wimpey and their agents also create a fake picture of what the area is like today, with Frank Knight suggesting The Denizen site is surrounded luxury retail shops. In fact the closest ‘retail therapy’ opportunities are in outlets such as City Hardware, Spa Nails (a bargain basement beauty centre), and market stalls – including one selling the types of branded sportswear favoured by football hooligans but at about half the price of what this gear costs in high street shops.
Since planning permission has now been granted by the City of London council, the only way to stop Taylor Wimpey building The Denizen is through a judicial review. This will be expensive and so all donations to the Save Golden Lane campaign are greatly appreciated: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/save-golden-lane/
One final note, many of the artists in Spectres of Modernism currently or have previously lived in and around Golden Lane, and/or sent their children to Prior Weston School. They have a very personal stake in the protest and represent a small part of the broader local community whose participation has made the show possible.
“A spectre is haunting the cynical overdevelopment that characterises London’s buy to leave property boom, the spectre of modernism!” #savegoldenlane