26 May 2015

Lost opportunities

Oomers textile factory bites the dust, along with another huge swathe of industrial buildings just off Blackhorse Lane. That is where the big changes are happening now, with two big new developments completed and another area cleared but so far left empty. Oomers was there last weekend, now it isn't. A single-storey factory building with the typical sawtooth roof, glass on the north side to give lots of light without direct sunshine, battered old brickwork with iron trusses: unused and in the way of progress, but a lost opportunity none the less. Now that end of Sutherland Road is choked with plastic barriers and huge demolition machines lumbering past the parked cars. The public gets no real say in this, despite all the studies and some semblance of consultation, and there is no chance for anyone to see for themselves what is on these sites, because they are securely locked up even when they are lying vacant.

More demolition is in the pipeline. Right on Blackhorse Lane, the hoardings have gone up on the Macdonald Egan development site - which includes the recently opened Gnome House and will surround it with new residential blocks. As far as I know everything else on the site will be demolished, including the picturesque old warehouse buildings on Hooker's Lane, and the Mandora building which was home to Inky Cuttlefish Studios and who knows how many office workers, until recently. Demolition in the name of progress, powered by the huge profits to be made. Early studies of these sites recommended keeping something of the industrial character by saving the best existing buildings and converting them for new uses, but it isn't happening. The developers want a clear site to put up nice neat blocks, and that's what they generally end up getting. Sorry hipsters -  make the most of Ravenswood Industrial Estate before that goes the same way.