Issue 62 — June 2007
Waiting for Spring
Spring Residential, the company that has bought the canalside development site from British Waterways has yet to put in a planning application. In February they made an initial presentation to the people of Jericho at the Community Centre. This gave only a very general water-colour impression of what they proposed. But even at this level of detail few people were impressed by a rather unexciting offering. Spring is using the same architects who prepared the ill-fated Bellway plans.
The main obstacle at present is the need to replace facilities that had been provided by the Jericho boatyard. The Public Inquiry in 2005 made it clear that these had to be provided in an ‘equally accessible and suitable location’. Jericho’s land-based residents are also keen that the site should have some boating character to maintain the community’s long historical association with the canal.
Spring has been discussing with the boaters the different options. One solution could be a small repair operation in Jericho for working on boats in the water, supplemented with a larger one elsewhere, possibly at Yarnton, where boats could be taken out of the water.
The other requirement from the Planning Inspectors had been to offer some land on the site for building a new community centre. This issue has now been resolved. Spring conceded this demand at the outset and in May exchanged contracts with the Community Association to sell a plot for £1, subject to both parties getting planning permission. The JCA has now started applying for grants for the additional funds it needs, including to the National Lottery.
The only alternative to Spring at present is being coordinated by Peter Strong, of St. Bernard’s Road. He envisages a much more imaginative use of the land, reflecting the Church’s associations with Venice, and Jericho’s with John Ruskin. He has the support of the Ruskin Society and some respected architects, but has yet to identify a source of funds to buy a site for which Spring reputedly paid around £4 million.
When Spring does make a planning application, the Community Association will organize a public meeting at the Church to discuss the development. At the Street Fair, residents will also have an opportunity to make suggestions about the new centre.