‘Arry’s Bar

From my desk in my flat on the eighteenth floor of a tower block in south London, I can see a history of London’s housing design lying at my feet: from the Georgian townhouses of the estate agent’s newly coined ‘Walworth village’ to the ragged holes in the ground where the Heygate Estate used to be; from the pointed end of the Shard at London Bridge, where – soaring skyward – penthouses, I am told, contain private swimming pools and cinemas, to the ‘affordable’ new flats being built along the northern edge of Burgess Park, in place of the social housing provided by the slab blocks of the Aylesbury estate, some of which have already been demolished, while others lie under threat.


In was from this desk, that I wrote my last book, on transitional spaces in psychoanalysis and architecture, specifically social housing. As I drew the book to a close, I discovered that my own home was in Southwark’s ‘estate renewal zone’.[i] Property consultants Savills had been advising the council of the need to ‘unearth the potential’ of public land, including ‘brownfield sites’, a term which for them includes fully occupied housing estates.[ii] According to Savills and others, post-war ‘estates are not dense enough, and street style layouts should be re-introduced.[iii] Although new research shows refurbishment has less social and environmental cost than demolition,[iv] the advantage of new build is that existing residents can be moved out, and in return, following viability studies, the developers can make their non-negotiable 20 per cent profit while providing a small percentage of ‘affordable housing’.[v] Tenants have been displaced from central London into other boroughs,[vi] and leaseholders ejected from the city entirely, due to the low rates of compensation paid when the councils issue compulsory purchase orders.[vii] I became so angered by the council’s actions, that I decided to use my academic and professional working skills to get directly involved in the fight for the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark, and to turn my fear of uncertainties around my London home into action.


One site of this action was ‘Arry’s Bar at Millwall Football ground in south east London. This was the venue for The Public Inquiry into the Aylesbury Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO), held in from 28 April to 1 May 2015, adjourned until 12 May, and then adjourned again until 13–4 October 2015 for the leaseholders group to gain legal representation. The multi-voiced text that follows consists of material taken from my Academic Expert Witness Statement (in plain text),[viii] from the Witness Statement of an Aylesbury leaseholder (in bold),[ix] and from the London Borough of Southwark’s Statement of Case (in bold italics).[x] Both the witness statements were submitted to Government Inspector Leslie Coffey on 23 April 2015, as part of the Inquiry and subject to cross examination by Southwark’s Barrister Melissa Murphy.

[i] See for example http://35percent.org/2014-07-23-mystery-objector-1301/ (accessed 9 January 2017).

[ii] See  http://www.savills.co.uk/_news/article/72418/175241-0/4/2014/savills-research–london-regeneration-research-proposal (accessed 9 January 2017).

For specific reports see for example http://pdf.euro.savills.co.uk/residential—other/spotlight-public-land.pdf (accessed 9 January 2017).

[iii] See http://pdf.savills.com/documents/Foreword%20by%20Community%20Secretary,%20Eric%20Pickles%20and%20the%20regeneration%20research%20proposal.pdf (accessed 9 January 2017).

[iv] For recent research on this contentious topic, see the following report http://www.engineering.ucl.ac.uk/engineering-exchange/files/2014/10/Report-Refurbishment-Demolition-Social-Housing.pdf (accessed 9 January 2017).

[v] A good definition of social rented housing is given here: https://www.gov.uk/definitions-of-general-housing-terms#social-and-affordable-housing. (accessed 9 January 2017).

[vi] For a mapping of the displacement of tenants and leaseholders from Southwark’s Heygate Estate, see Loretta Lees, Just Space, and SNAG (Southwark Notes Archives Group) ‘The Social Cleansing of Council Estates in London’, Ben Campkin, David Roberts and Rebecca Ross (eds), Regeneration Realities: Urban Pamphleteer, n. 2 (2014), pp. 6–11.

[vii] Compulsory Purchase Orders are issued to those same residents that the Councils earlier sold 125-year leases under the ‘right to buy’. See https://www.gov.uk/right-to-buy-buying-your-council-home/overview (accessed 9 January 2017). As one recent legal case shows, urban blight is currently calculated to reduce the value of a property for sale by only 10%. See for example https://southwarknotes.wordpress.com/aylesbury-estate/ (accessed 9 January 2017) and http://35percent.org/2014-05-30-aylesbury-leaseholder-fights-incestuous-valuation/ (accessed 9 January 2017).

[viii] This statement has been edited slightly here to fit word length requirements. For the full statement see http://crappistmartin.github.io/images/SummaryProfRendell.pdf (accessed 9 January 2017).

[ix] Witness Statement of an Aylesbury Leaseholder, 25 April 2015.

[x] See The London Borough of Southwark, Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and Acquisition of Land Act 1981, The London Borough of Southwark (Aylesbury Estate Sites 1B-1C) Compulsory Purchase Order 2014, Statement of Case made by the London Borough of Southwark under Rule 7 of the Compulsory Purchase (Inquiries Procedure) Rules 2007.


Jane Rendell, ‘ ‘Arry’s Bar’, in Michal Murawski and Jane Rendell (eds) Reactivating the Social Condenser, Issue 3: The social condenser: a century of revolution through architecture, 1917-2017, special issue of the Journal of Architecture (2017), Volume 22, pp. 532-554 


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