Should Rotherhithe crane cash be spent on homes?

News Desk (26 November, 2015)

"Substantial cost" of refurbishment could be diverted to new affordable units

1632Local resident Ian Cooper in front of the beloved crane.

Southwark Council has failed to back plans to preserve the Odessa Street docking crane, which the News revealed last week may be saved after a petition was signed by hundreds of people.

The council believes that money put towards retaining the crane, which dates back to the 1930s, should instead be used by developers Hollybrook to build more affordable homes.

Hollybrook are planning houses, a café and a “pocket park” on the Rotherhithe site, with three options for the crane’s future: preserve it, convert it into a statue, or remove it.

Councillor Mark Williams, Southwark Council cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, said: “We do understand there are different views on the future of the crane and we want to hear what local people think.

“The cost of retaining even a portion of the crane is substantial and residents may feel that the money is better spent on alternative local projects, we look forward to hearing their views.”

Residents are split on the proposals, with some, like Andie Byrnes, outright opposing the sculpture plan.

She said that the striking statue would not be “pertinent to the crane and what it represents.”

She said: “It’s just a rotten pun! Obviously to preserve the whole thing is unrealistic, but if they could preserve some of it, maybe just the cabin and one or two of the arms, that would be a good way to represent the piece of wharfing and timbering heritage.”

However some residents, such as Ian Cooper, whose home overlooks the crane, were in favour of the unusual bird proposal.

He said: “It’s quirky, people would remember it and it could become a bit of a talking point for years to come.”

Consultation of residents for the whole development will take place in early-2016, with an update on plans for the crane expected for residents shortly after Christmas.

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