Croydon’s somewhat curmudgeonly attitude towards Open House London, the annual opportunity to sneak a peek behind normally firmly closed doors, appears to have been shaken off, finally.
But not as far as the not-so-dynamic team in the council’s press office is concerned.
For they have only just got round to issuing publicity today about the borough’s involvement in the capital-wide scheme, more than a week after it was launched everywhere else in London.
The formal launch also saw the start of the ballot for slots on tours at high-demand venues, including No10 Downing Street and The Shard – so anyone waiting for Croydon to publicise the scheme will have potentially been placed at a disadvantage against other Londoners when applying for those hot tickets.
There are 14 Croydon buildings not usually open to public examination throwing open their doors on the weekend of September 17 and 18 in the annual Open House London festival of architecture and design.
And this includes the country’s most expensive local authority head offices, Fisher’s Folly.
Or, as the council’s press office would have it: “There is also the chance to explore the council’s own offices at Bernard Weatherill House. Glass-sided lifts will take guests up through the eight floors of the central atrium before rising the final four floors with panoramic external views across the town.”
Yep, and to remind ourselves that we all paid for the building, and council leader Tony Newman has failed in his promise to expose why it cost around £100 million more than offices of similar scale and design.
According to the council’s dozy press office, “Among the highlights of the weekend will be tours of the yet-to-be-completed Ruskin Square development adjacent to East Croydon station.” Which offers Croydon Council Tax-payers an up-close-and-personal chance to see how work on Boozepark – “Opening Summer 2016” – is coming along with its £3million loan of public money – your money – from the council.
Also on the Croydon list this year is Whitehorse Manor School, the winner of various architectural plaudits since it was completed in 2014.
Equally intriguing is what is not on Croydon’s list for Open House weekend. Like the housing that was meant to have been built on the site of the former council offices, Taberner House. Instead, on offer is a tour of the vacant plot, which rather than desperately needed housing, is still serving as a pop-up saffron farm.
Nor is there a tour of the progress on the promised £1.4 billion Hammersfield shopping mall, which was due to be completed in the centre of town by 2017. The heritage listed SEGAS House, which stands, sadly neglected, close to the Town Hall, is also missing from the list, as is the Pumping Station on Exchange Square.
The Open House weekend extends right across London, with 750 properties, including a rare opportunity to visit the vaulted subway at the long-since-closed high-level railway station at Crystal Palace (like 736 veues, entirely unmentioned by Croydon’s parochial council press release because it is situated the other side of the borough boundary), plus the old art deco London Transport headquarters at 55 Broadway, Joseph Bazalgette’s Abbey Mills Pumping Station, Inigo Jones’s Whitehall Banqueting House and Alexandra Palace’s secret basement.
Access to the buildings and walks is free. Some are open on a first-come, first-served basis, but others require booking. The weekend’s guide, previously on offer free at participating boroughs’ libraries, is now priced at £7, which you can order here, and for full details, booking requirements and listings, click here.
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