The Tour

1. Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel: The Royal London hospital cost £1.1bn to build, but thanks to the PFI agreement that funded it, will cost taxpayers £7.1bn instead. It’s like buying a hospital on a credit card. In fact the repayment terms are so crippling the Royal London is running a £93m deficit, which explains why the lights on its top two floors are never lit – Barts can’t afford to use them. So where is all this extra money going? Investment vehicle Innisfree and construction firm Skanska, and they will continue to collect for another 35-years – unless it goes bankrupt, which it technically already is, in which case they will own it. Privatisation anyone?

2. Sainsbury’s: As part of the Whitechapel Masterplan the supermarket is proposing to double the size of the store and build 600 new homes on its roof. While the area desperately needs more truly affordable housing, Sainsbury’s is offering a pathetic 10% despite the council’s target of 35%. No doubt it will claim it can’t afford anymore, but given it already owns the land that simply doesn’t wash. If the company wants to be a part of the community it serves, it can start by not treating us with contempt.

3. no.w.here, Bethnal Green: For 10 years no.w.here has worked in Tower Hamlets as a community project, open artist platform and film laboratory built on the historical legacy of the London filmmakers co-operative. Run by cultural workers who place value on education, resistance, collaboration and free expression, no.w.here’s long standing work and projects are under threat from the tide of property developers who only value one’s and zero’s. Vital in its community, no.w.here does not view displacement by billionaires or the destruction of communities as a natural evolution. Our campaign will officially launch in September. On 8th August we invite you to visit no.w.here’s lab and community project space as we seek to exchange know how, experience, support and possibility.

4. The Joiners Arms, Hackney Road: The Joiners Arms opened as a queer pub in 1997, and swiftly established a reputation as a welcoming, diverse and at times hedonistic venue. The owners closed the venue in January 2015, and it remains shuttered and empty awaiting unspecified development (strongly rumoured to involve demolition and a luxury apartment tower block). The Friends of the Joiners Arms is campaigning to re-open the venue – transforming the Joiners into London’s only cooperatively owned and managed LGBTQIA Community Centre, whilst keeping the late-license pub at its heart. We have already won Asset of Community Value status for the venue (which gives us a chance to bid if the owners decide to sell) but the fight continues to demand that the Joiners Arms be re-opened immediately and given back to the queer community to run, providing space so desperately needed for life, love and liberty.

5. Bishopsgate Goodsyard, Shoreditch: The current proposal for development of the Bishopsgate Goodsyard is a faceless mega-complex that will cast giant shadows over our community. This wall of luxury residential towers will steal our light and give nothing back to the Shoreditch, Spitalfields and Brick Lane area. Our mission is to promote inspired and innovative development of the Goodsyard, as it’s crucial to meeting housing and commercial needs. Thus, at our core we support the high-density development of the Goodsyard with well-designed mid-rise buildings that offer liveable housing and promote urban vitality with healthier and happier communities, believe the development of the Goodsyard can be commercially viable, yet still integrate with surrounding neighbourhoods, and want a thriving tech city based in appropriately sized and affordable spaces.

6. Holland Estate, Spitalfields: So-called social landlord EastEnd Homes has proposed demolishing homes and a thriving community to make way for a mainly private high-rise development. Despite saying residents’ views are important they have conducted no meaningful consultation and claim it is the residents themselves who have requested the demolition of their own homes. So residents have decided to take things into our own hands to make it clear that redevelopment of these blocks is not what we want. We want EastEnd Homes to refurbish our blocks, as they promised to do when they were given the estate by Tower Hamlets Council in 2006.

On Sunday we will also take a look at..

6. The Chest Hospital, Bethnal Green: The London Chest Hospital opened in 1855 to treat tuberculosis sufferers amongst London’s poor. As well as gaining an international reputation for the treatment of heart and lung disease, the hospital has cared for servicemen exposed to poison gas in WW1 and air raid victims in WW2. In April 2015 Barts and The London NHS Trust shut the hospital, moved its services to St Bartoholomew’s Hospital and put the site up for sale. The Trust is currently in negotiations with a buyer. No planning permission has been granted, but the site has been earmarked as offering ‘significant potential for residential development.’ Tower Hamlets Green Party is launching a campaign to prevent this historic site becoming another soulless development of luxury homes. We want to ensure that whatever happens to the hospital, the site continues to be something that has the needs of the borough’s residents at the heart of it.

7. The National Barge Travellers Association, Victoria Park: At the moment the population of boaters is increasing and this is in part caused by the housing crisis as more people are forced to find alternative ways of living to survive. Despite having the money needed to provide sufficient facilities to boaters the canal and river trust (CART) have not done this – in some areas facilities have been taken away and unaffordable permanent moorings created that price out the majority. Our community is under threat as CART become more draconian in their interpretation of the law effecting boaters in an attempt to make it more difficult to live on the water. Every year boat dwellers are unfairly evicted and their boats seized, including people that are disabled, elderly or ill. Please help us by supporting our campaign. Details can be found at: nbtalondon.wordpress.com email: nbtalondon@gmail.com for more info.

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