Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Vic House - Intruder Window

An intruder in Victoria House nearly injured a passer-by this afternoon after they threw an object through a top floor window narrowly missing a pedestrian below as he waited at the traffic lights to cross the London Road.

The object (left) is about 30cm long, weighs about half a kilogram and is thought to be a window opener. The glass from the smashed window showered the pavement near the wooden seat in front of the derelict building.

Shortly before the item was thrown, a person wearing a blue or black hooded jacket, who appeared to be adult because of their height, was seen through the window on the upper floor. The Police were called, interviewed the pedestrian and walked around the building but the blog understands they didn't enter the premises or make any arrests.

The picture at the top was taken at the weekend and shows the in tact window circled. The picture on the right taken today shows the same window now smashed.

Not So Secure

It looks as if the intruders are getting in and out down the alleyway between the Favourite Chicken shop and where Ladbrokes used to be.

Alan Plant, chair of the local Chapra residents association (Church Hill, Abbots, Priory Residents' Association) of which Church Hill Road runs along the back of Victoria House, had recently alerted the area's councillors and the police to the section of razor wire which had been cut and removed at the top of the wall here (behind the dumped car and other rubbish). At the time there was no ladder there, but when I went to take a look at the weekend, the ladder had been placed conveniently against the wall there. There is only a short drop on the other side to the vehicle ramp into the building.

In an email today to Home Group, the owners of the building Alan asked:
"Does someone need to get killed or seriously injured before you do something to rectify your security issues. Clearly there is no alarm or detection within the raised accommodation block or the response would have been actioned by yourselves and not the local public."
Waiting Waiting

Victoria House continues to exist, against the wishes of most members of the public, having been subject to several false starts when it looked as if it was going to be knocked down and replaced with something else.

A couple of years ago it looked as if the then owners, Stonegate Homes were going to replace it with this not unreasonable design on the left here. By most people's standards it was a great deal better than what is currently there, and at the ends of the day, no one is going to build anything unless they have a good chance of making some money by doing so. 

That was all scuppered when, after receiving planning permission for this design, Stonegate sold the property to Home Group, the current owners.

Home Group asked a number of agencies to submit new plans for a replacement building and selected one from Collective Architecture that local people could agree on. Unfortunately what they seem to agreed on was that this new design is awful and that the previous Stonegate plan was much better. The new design, revealed early last year (here on the right) is effectively three tower blocks. They said they wanted a gap to let the sunshine through but that means stark tower blocks instead of a more gently rising affair.

In a recent comment, blog reader Martin drew my attention to an interesting alternative design for Victoria House which made me realise that Home Group hadn't even selected the best design out of the ones they had been given.

This design on the left from ECD Architects is certainly a superior design to the 'three towers' one currently being foisted upon us.

I still prefer the Stonegate one but at least this one is better than the eyesore that is currently there. The same can't fully be said for the North Cheam towers design.

Martin told the blog:
"I think the ECD architects proposal does look a lot better than the previous one from Home Group (and the Stonegate 'approved' plans before that), especially if all the trees and greenery is actually included and maintained into maturity over the long term and not just for the initial artist impressions.
The tower section as shown at 12 floors is far too tall and overpowering for North Cheam crossroads but the later report from Paul Scully that I linked too on the blog does say Home Group have since reduced the height to a max of 10 storeys after the public lets hope they get on with it and demolish the existing eyesore ASAP!"
The blog understands that Home Group are putting the final polish on their planning application to submit to Sutton Council, after apparently 'listening' to local people. We shall see...

One thing is for sure - they certainly need to get their security sorted out on the existing site ASAP.