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St Modwens the destroyer

Keith Parkins | 30.03.2005 15:38 | Analysis | Health | Social Struggles | Birmingham | Liverpool | London

St Modwens the destroyer, through a front company KPI and in collusion with the local council, has managed to trash Farnborough town centre. St Modwens is now proposing to do the same in collusion with the local council to the century old Queens Market at Upton Park in East London.

'Another load of thieving developers? I believe they managed to fuck up Angel Edmonton, they've been consulting with Islington council to fuck up Archway even more, and it's also worth checking Elephant & Castle for more of the same.' -- Cosy...Isn't it

'My son is working on this stall; my father worked on this stall; my grandmother worked on this stall; I’m not moving.' -- Danny Woodards, Queens Market stall-holder

'There is another Asda store in Newham; there are various other superstores; there is only one Queens Market. Defend our multi-cultural and historical market.' -- Friends of Queens Market

'Wal-Mart is not the beginning of competition, it is the end of competition. Once it has driven out the competitors, it is free do whatever it wants with its prices.' -- Al Norman

'Wal-Mart's executives have demonstrated an often breathtaking contempt for laws and regulations. In the US, courts again and again have found the company to have lied, to have illegally falsified, destroyed and withheld documents, to have committed civil fraud, to have wilfully sold counterfeit goods, to have deliberately discriminated against disabled job applicants, to have illegally fired workers for interracial dating, to have discriminated against black and Mexican employees in other ways, to have allowed managers to sexually harass women workers - and to have fired women who have had the temerity to complain.' -- Bob Ortega

'Our priorities are that we want to dominate North America first, then South America, and then Asia and then Europe.' -- David Glass, Wal-Mart CEO and President

Under the guise of 'redevelopment', St Modwens the destroyer, is proposing to destroy the century old Queens Market at Upton Park in East London. The first local people knew of this was when they heard of it through the property trade press, then through the local paper they learnt the site was earmarked for an Asda superstore.

There are several superstores within a few miles radius of Queens Market, including an Asda superstore. Why is another superstore required?

Queens Market was established a century ago by an Act of Parliament. Located adjacent to Upton Park tube station on the the District Line, it is a popular local market comprising some sixty small shops and eighty stalls.

One of the main attractions of continental markets is the number and quality of fresh fruit and vegetable stalls. This is what makes Queens Market so popular with local people, the fresh fruit and vegetable stalls.

Newham Council wish to see the market demolished and replaced by an Asda superstore. Newham claim the market is dirty and badly lit. But that is down to the Council as landlords. The Council somewhat bizarrely complains that the Market ‘suffers from a proliferation of certain uses such as meat sales and fruit and vegetables’. Anywhere else this would be seen as an asset for any market. The reason why farmers markets have proved so popular up and down the country.

Loss of Queens Market does not only impact on the local community and local traders, it also raises important questions as to who controls the food chain, access to fresh produce, support of small producers and suppliers, diversity of supply, industrialisation of agriculture and the increasing concentration of food and agriculture into fewer and fewer hands. It also raises questions of access to fresh produce at reasonable prices in a deprived and marginalised community (fresh fruit and vegetables at Queens Market is typically two-thirds to half the price of a nearby Asda), essential to the health and well-being of the local community.

Objectors to the scheme have been denied access to important documentation. St Modwens were appointed as 'preferred development partner' in the absence of any public consultation.

The Mayor of Newham bulldozed through the formal appointment of St Modwens as the ‘preferred development partner’ as an emergency decision, using General Exception Notice procedures. The reasons given for the indecent haste, secrecy and lack of public consultation were ‘public interest’ and ‘market sensitivities’!

Apart from local objections, Friends of Queens Market have gathered several thousand signatures of objection, the scheme would appear to fail government PPGs (planning policy guidance notes), especially those on town centres, retail, transport and housing. It is not sustainable development.

Newham are trying bring in the yuppies, driving out the poor and downtrodden, trying to move the area upmarket. How can this be achieved by destroying Queens Market and replacing it with downmarket Asda, and what are we to do with the poor and disadvantaged who are to be driven out? Or are they to be someone else's problem, dumped on someone else's doorstep?

The same is happening in Liverpool. Over 1,000 Victorian houses are to be destroyed. The only beneficiaries of such schemes are the developers and the corrupt councillors who are lining their pockets on the back of the schemes.

We see this repeated time and time again across the country. Corrupt councillors creating development opportunities for property developers.

Before the Queens Market scheme can go ahead and due to the scale of the scheme there would have to be an environmental impact assessment and a retail impact assessment (looking at not only the impact on local retailers but also the impact on nearby retail centres).

A Council planning committee has a quasi-judicial function, it has to look at each planning application objectively on its individual merits. Minds cannot be already made up, as appears to be the case in Newham. The Council cannot have a corporate policy or mindset in favour of the scheme, as again appears to be the case in Newham. Anything less, could be subjected to a Judicial Review, as could the manner in which the Mayor has handled the regeneration scheme to date.

A regeneration scheme should be just that, regeneration, regeneration to benefit a local community, not, as is too often the case, a development opportunity for greedy developers, an opportunity for corrupt councillors to line their own pockets.

To see how a St Modwens 'redevelopment' impacts on a town centre, we need look no further than Farnborough town centre.

St Modwens via the Kuwaiti-financed front company KPI (Key Property Investment) and with the collusion of the local council has laid waste to Farnborough town centre. Where there was once a thriving town centre there now lies a ghost town. Local retailers have been driven out of business. The few retailers who remain are suffering from a downturn in trade as who wants to shop in a ghost town.

The intention is to level to the ground the northern half of the town centre and replace it with a superstore, possibly Sainsbury's (although Sainsbury's has repeatedly denied it has anything to do with the development and the developer is using their name). Firgrove Court, a small estate of social housing, is to be leveled to the ground to make way for a car park for the superstore.

No one in the town wants this development, no one that is other than councillors and their officials who give the strong impression of being in the pocket of the developer.

The developer has repeatedly lied about the development. Early last year we were told it was to start in the summer. At the same time the developer had granted the Library a temporary lease May-October to occupy the site and had neither planning consent nor a stopping-up order from the secretary of state for necessary road closures. Planning consent has been subsequently acquired, then twice successfully challenged through Judicial Review.

At the end of last year, the developers said they would start work early spring immediately after Christmas, so as not to hit the Christmas retail trade. They were though happy to let units to temporary traders and stallholders to cream the Christmas trade. It is now late March, the developers have only just applied for highway closures. They had previously applied for highway closures more than 18 months ago, but withdrew their application for fear of being forced to appear before a public inquiry.

When the planning application was placed before the planning committee, it was simply rubber-stamped. No intelligent questions were asked, detailed objections were not placed before the committee, let alone the points raised discussed or considered. One councillor (the only councillor who has talked to affected parties) who wished to address the committee was refused leave to do so. Three councillors who sit on the board of Pavilion (the housing association that owns the social housing scheduled for demolition for the superstore car park and expected to do quite nicely thank you), not only remained in the room, but spoke in favour of the application and voted for it. All three are currently under investigation by the Standards Board for England and facing disqualification from holding office if found guilty of acting in a prejudicial manner.

There has been no proper consultation. Councillors, be it in the council chamber, in committee or directly to the local press, have fallen over backwards to promote the scheme, have repeatedly attacked objectors. At least one councillor has had regular secret meetings with the developers. Councillors have had regular back-door briefings from the developer.

Honest councillors have been denied access to relevant information, even that which is in the public domain. Honest councillors have been denied the opportunity to speak.

In Farnborough, Asda operate a superstore. Planning conditions mean nothing. They had delivery hours of 7am in the morning until 10pm at night. With impunity they delivered at night during their curfew hours to their 24-hour superstore. Local residents suffered loss of sleep, but that did not matter. Asda knew they could operate with impunity as they knew that what they openly referred to as a two-bit council would not serve enforcement notices for planning infringements. The council has since caved in, amended the planning conditions, and granted limited 24-hour deliveries. The proposed new superstore has already been granted 24-hour deliveries with no restrictions, even though more residents will be affected, ultimately opening the door to Asda for 24-hour unrestricted deliveries.

Superstores destroy jobs, generate traffic, act like a neutron bomb on existing retail centres, destroying everything in their path. Their impact is felt several miles away from the epicentre.

St Modwens get away with what they do thanks to the collusion of corrupt councillors and their corrupt officials. Councillors and officials who serve property companies and corporate interests not their local communities. We all know their names, we all know where they live.

The next big battle on Farnborough town centre will be on the road closures. KPI has already been forced to withdraw one application for road closures.

Details of these road closures may be obtained from GOSE

01483 882 415

Formal Notice of the Stopping-Up Order was posted in the street 18 March 2005 giving 28 days in which to object, ie little more than two weeks left in which to object. A large number of objections is needed to force a public inquiry.

Friends of Queens Market are mounting a large public demonstration Monday 11 April 2005 at East Ham Town Hall, Barking Road, London E6, before the Public Meeting starts at 6-30pm.

Pauline Rowe 07903-374009
Jan Goodall 0208-418-0927
Sasha Laurel 07956-649696



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Keith Parkins


Display the following 3 comments

  1. St Modwen — Simon
  2. More St Modwdens mayhem — Hitchens is Scum.
  3. Moderation request — Leighton Colegrave