One Man’s Grand Design For London
Meet Colin Wilson, director of the Planning Decisions Unit of the Greater London Authority. They would have a man named Colin. I wanted to find out more about him, and discovered that he recently ran a seminar, billing it like this:
Urbego mini training course trainer: Colin Wilson, Startegic Planning Manager at Greater London Authority.
That should ring alarm bells. If the man in charge of London’s skyline can’t spell his own job title, we’re in deep trouble. Colin’s no longer running mini training courses, he’s doing some startegic planning instead, in charge of sticking up lots of glass boxes around London – 230 of them – and there’s a very funny Guardian article about these buildings of ‘breakfast-extracting ugliness’ here. Of course it’s all about flogging luxury space to foreigns, regardless of London’s formerly unique character.
After the Blitz, the City of London employed two police constables full time to take pictures of all the burned-out buildings. Arthur Cross and Fred Tibb built up a complete record of what needed to be reconstructed, so that planners could take into consideration height, bulk and materials.
Mr Wilson doesn’t give a toss about this, but attempts (and fails) to dress up his decisions thusly;
“It is simply not true to say these towers haven’t been planned. They have been very carefully planned. But we prefer to use a flexible framework, rather than a rigid master plan.’
So they haven’t been planned then.
The council’s development monkey can now set about dropping thuggish glass stumps wherever he wants. Usually they have something bolted onto them that’s hilariously intended to give them ‘character’. Last year’s fashion was upright coloured glass panels. This year’s fashion is spiky rooftop knives, thus lending each tower the elegance of an orthopaedic boot attached to a withered foot.
I’d post a photo of Mr Wilson but I don’t want anyone shooting him. He’s probably a very nice man, hopelessly, terrifyingly out of his depth.
And yes, this piece is another excuse to run a horrible picture of the Strata building, in Sarf London. You know, the one with the turbines that don’t work. The one that looks like an owl mated with an electric razor.