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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Friday, 3 January 2014

Nine Elms disease revisited: welcome to the seriously bland quarter

 Nine Elms from my bedroom window: au revoir, view of Westminster, hello the new cuboid US embassy instead.
Since the last entry on the redevelopment of Nine Elms in South West London, things have moved ahead at a terrible speed. The view from here has already been partly blotted out by cranes and skeletal buildings shooting up along the river from Vauxhall to Battersea.

The killer tower now has stupid stripes of white lights all the way from top to bottom, making it look even more like a giant AAA battery stuck into the Thames mud.

And the developers have revealed their master plan, complete with the obligatory 3D computer visualisations of the finished project.

What's it  like? Well, when even the local free magazine, Battersea Time & Leisure, damns it with the faint praise that it was "a pretty model…But a new Southbank? It just didn't look, well, cult enough"- you realise we're in for something amazingly dull.

The editor of this mag, whose revenues come mainly from the estate agents who will be flogging these flats for millions and millions, is being quite bold here.

Not that the property men will care - they know that their customers would much rather buy into something safe and secure, bland and convenient and comfortable,  and certainly nothing like the real Southbank, which as I recall has relatively few luxury apartment blocks and lots of great big buildings devoted to theatre, music, art and cinema.

But we must withhold judgment - any investment in art and community has to be good, and even if it's just lip-service, or just a veneer, it could still do some good. Apparently the RCA is involved and maybe Testbed as well.  If they could get the Battersea Arts Centre on board, with all its attendant philosophy of arts for everyone, pay what you can afford, then we might be a bit less sceptical.

Anything that might lure the young and penniless into this zone of the super-rich and powerful could be a good thing. Maybe a new skate park, graffiti and all,  will develop here to make up for the one currently on its last days at Southbank…

Anyway, enjoy those green river views here at the nineelmslondon.com website.

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