The view of an employee at PCS

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Author: Imogen Radford
I wanted to write to put across the reasons for objections to the proposed Clapham Junction development from people like me who work in the area and are affected by it.
Demolishing our offices and forcing us to move – as the developers intend – will have a big impact on the area, as it will remove employment and have an effect on the community. And all of this without the developers consulting the employers! Presumably they expect us all to get out of their way.
I work at PCS, a large national union with nearly 300,000 members, at 160 Falcon Rd, in a modern building which the developers wish to demolish and replace with shops and tower blocks. There are 240 staff in the building and we have 300 visitors a week.
This is some of what I said in my personal objection letter to the council planning department:

  • I am concerned about the employment impact of demolition of our building and other office buildings in the area, with the loss of 240 staff in our building alone.
  • There will be a considerable impact on the local economy of loss of these staff whose spending in the area is considerable, in pubs, shops, restaurants etc.
  • I am worried that my employer, PCS, is unable to plan an alternative location or any relocation timetable, especially as the developers seem to be assuming demolition will take place very soon yet are failing to negotiate with PCS.
  • I and many of my colleagues will have their travelling arrangements disrupted by destruction of our workplace.
  • It is wasteful to destroy a perfectly good and serviceable office building, and this is not a very environmentally sustainable approach to development.

Since attending the excellent public meeting and hearing all the speakers from various parts of the community I wanted to add that people who work in the borough are part of the community as well and many of us care about it. We are here for a lot of our time. We use the local shops, pubs, restaurants, parks and other facilities, including the station. We work in a good quality office building, we have very good transport links, we enjoy the local restaurants and shops, and many of us do not want to move.
Although the developers are suggesting that they will create large numbers of new jobs, these will be in the retail sector. They propose that the development will include a large number of shops, the same shops you see in every high street. These jobs are not often well-paid and in the current economic climate the retail sector is particularly vulnerable. In contrast, jobs in offices and company headquarters provide relatively well paid and stable employment.
Even if we didn’t mind our office block moving we would feel very unsettled by the situation. The developers did not talk to our employer before putting in their planning application, and in the application they said that PCS wanted to move which is totally untrue. Our employer, PCS, put in a strongly worded objection to the application, pointing out the economic consequences and the fact that they had not been consulted. We have no idea what is likely to happen to us, where we might go to, what it would be like, and what impact it would have on our travel arrangements and the environment in which we work. I and many of my colleagues are very unhappy about this.
I just want add that I am appalled by the appearance of what is proposed. Everyone’s had plenty to say about the tower blocks, but some of their other buildings are no better.
This is what I said in my objection letter to the planning department:

  • Falcon House, 160 Falcon Rd, the PCS building, is characterised by the developers as being ‘undistinguished’. But it fits in far more appropriately to the conservation area than the proposed building on Falcon Road. The building is relatively plain, but after 20 years does not look at all out of date. Instead it complements the Victorian splendour of the Falcon and makes a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the area.
  • The developers say that removing Falcon House would improve the character and appearance of the area. But the island building in Falcon Road with which they propose to replace it is not at all in keeping with the area. Its design is faddish and trendy, with windows at wacky angles, and it is bound to soon look outmoded.

So not only is our workplace to be demolished, it is to be replaced with something hideous and inappropriate. This adds insult to injury.
Best of luck with the campaign – it deserves to succeed for the sake of the whole community.
Imogen Radford
(employee at PCS)


[Edit – Cyril Richert: we published a previous article on PCS that you might refer to here]

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2 Comments

  1. I fully agree. My main objection to this scheme, or rather two main objections, are not the height of the proposed towers, but the demolition of relatively new buildings, i.e. the PCS building and the Shopping Mall entrance to Clapham Junction station, both built within the last 20-30 years.
    In my view no building should be allowed to be demolished unless it is AT LEAST 100 years old, unless there are very good reasons such as unrepairable structural defects. Buildings should last hundreds of years if built properly, so there is no case at all for demolishing ones built in the last 100 years or so, nor for demolishing older buildings which are sound and have fine architectural or historical features. The Windsor Castle pub would be another great loss in these scheme.
    My other objection is the lack of affordable housing in the project, and what I mean by that is council or housing association homes for a relatively low rent .
    Tony Papard

  2. Tony> Agree in principle… except that everyday in London (especially the City) we have examples of recent buildings being demolished for newer ones. Nowadays tower-blocks last more or less a few decades before to be replaced…

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