Wednesday 16 September 2009

Queens Market Developers Receive Ceauşescu Award

Developers St. Modwen Properties has received second prize in the new Ceauşescu Awards for their plans for Queens Market at Upton Park.

The Ceauşescu Awards have been set up by Capacities Ltd, an educational charity, who asked community organisations in London’s five Olympic boroughs to nominate development projects that they felt were:

  • oppressive in size or scale
  • bulldozed through the planning processes
  • architectural hype
The awards are named after Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, who had 30 000 homes, historic churches and synagogues pulled down to make way for his ‘ego’ project, a huge governmental ‘People's House’, the second largest administrative building in the world with dubious architectural merit.

A citizens panel has awarded first prize to Dalston Square in Hackney, a high rise development opposed by most local residents. Hackney’s Mayor Jules Pipes publicly denounced one opponent in classic dictator style: he accused the Children’s Poet Laureate Michael Rosen of wanting to ‘keep Hackney looking crap’.

St Modwen's second prize was for their plans to demolish a much-loved traditional street market and replace it with a indoor market hall with “copper chimneys”, all overshadowed by 18 and 31 storey tower blocks. This proposal was bulldozed through at local planning stage despite 2549 planning objections (and 3 letters of support). Boris Johnson finally used his mayoral powers to throw the plans out and save the market but Newham council and the developers remain unrepentant about the plan and furious about its rejection.

The Chairman of St Modwen Anthony Glossop will not be present to accept the wooden spoon award offered by Capacities. He is currently embroiled in controversy over his company’s payment of £100k to an agent for MG Rover that preceded St Modwen's acquisition of a sizeable chunk of Rover land.

The Friends of Queens Market therefore intend to turn out at the market on Saturday 19th September at noon to receive the ‘bad development award’ on behalf of St Modwen.

“The presentation will be a good laugh” says campaign chair Sasha Laurel, “but there is a serious side to this. The developers want to displace the shoppers who depend on this market for fresh good value food and clothes and turn it into a high rise, high rent, unaffordable area. It’s a dictator’s plan which has to be resisted.”

UPDATE: Campaigners receive award on St Modwen's behalf

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