Issue 53— June 2003
Stand by for action
Jericho awaits plans for canalside redevelopment
Bellway Homes, the company chosen by British Waterways to redevelop the land behind St. Barnabas Church, has yet to put in a planning application. But, based on British Waterways’ statements so far the proposals are unlikely to be good news for Jericho.
A packed AGM of the Community Association on April 14 discussed the priorities for this site. It was clear to all that British Waterways (BW) was showing little sign of fulfilling its responsibilities to Jericho—or to the boating community.
The land behind the Church, which used to be occupied by the Orchard Cruisers boatyard, has been in limbo since 1993. In the meantime it has been used by several enterprises, including the floating restaurant, Rosamund The Fair, and a boat building and repair operation which also sells diesel, gas and coal to the canal boats.
There have been several imaginative proposals for this site—bringing together local businesses, the Church, the boating community and the Jericho Community Association which wants to build a new Community Centre somewhere on the site. BW has so far turned down all these proposals and instead has signed a contract with Bellway, which, as usual, wants to pack most of the land with high value housing.
Whether they will succeed or not is another matter. The City Council has clearly established its priorities for this site in the latest ‘Local Plan’. These involve not only the new bridge and square already included by BW, but also a substantial proportion of affordable housing as well as a sustainable Community Centre. The Council has also offered to add to the site the land currently occupied by the garages in Dawson Place to provide most of the space for the Centre. The Community Association has had many meetings with BW pointing out that we need a small amount of additional land to build a Centre sufficiently large to be financially sustainable. Thus far, however, BW has refused to offer an inch.
BW and Bellway have thus set themselves on a collision course with the local community and also with the City Council. This might be understandable for a commercial company but not for a public corporation which is partly funded by taxpayers and which claims to take into account community needs. It is all the more puzzling given that BW would presumably be relying on local cooperation for the proposed reopening of the canal basin beyond Hythe Bridge Street.
The boating community too has been let down. Phil Muil, who has a mooring on the south of the site, says that BW have constantly had to be pressured into protecting the interests of canal users. He points out than around 100 boats rely on the Jericho yard for servicing and repairs—and can sometimes arrive sinking. What will happen when this yard closes? BW seems very unclear on this, though there is some talk of a new marina further up the canal.
Bellway is likely to apply to the City Council for planning
permission in the next few weeks. At that stage we will need to respond.
Many people at the AGM offered to help efforts for a new Centre. But everyone’s
support will be needed. To keep abreast of developments, you can consult
our websites (see p. 4). There will also be information available at the
Jericho Street Fair on June 14.