Stop the Rot campaign: Goldsmiths responds

Hugh Jones, the Registrar and Secretary at Goldsmiths, has responded to the debate prompted by Isobel Williams' article on Brockley Central. He says:

We try to be good neighbours but it looks like we haven’t been so in relation to 38 and 80 St Donnatts. I am sorry. We’re looking seriously at options for the two properties. We’re a public body so need to take into account long-term and short-term needs of the College. 

If we do think that selling the properties is the best option, we’ll need to seek the approval of our Finance and Resources Committee. This is made up of independent members of our governing body. 

As and when we make decisions – and this is a live issue for us as well as those of you who have posted – we’ll do our best to let you know. 

In the meantime, if you have any questions, problems or queries about the properties, please get in touch with us by emailing community@gold.ac.uk and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

It's very encouraging to see this level of engagement with the issue from Goldsmiths, which ought to gain from the regeneration of New Cross, and we will follow the matter closely in the coming months.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now this is a good approach to a PR disaster. An open attitude and a frank apology. Well done Mr Jones.

Isobel Williams said...

Many thanks for the post - and the apology - Mr Jones. It is good to finally get a response from the College.

The concern is that you have had several years to decide what to do with these properties, and I fear that we could wait several more years before a decision is made. With this in mind, could you give us some idea of timescale? Will it be discussed at the next meeting of your Finance and Resources Committee, for instance, and if so, when is this? Perhaps you could engage with residents via this and other community blogs to keep us informed.

And I notice you refer to 38 and 80 St Donatts, but there is no mention of the commercial properties on New Cross Road. This isn't a St Donatts Rd issue, this is a New Cross issue, and it concerns the whole community, to which you are integral.

Anonymous said...

so pushy

Danja said...

It's fair enough to push him back when he has just skipped over a large part of the original issue.

Are you a bit of a soft touch, anon?

Hugh Jones said...

Thanks for your comments.

I understand Isobel's concern about timescales. (May I use first names, btw? Please call me Hugh!) By mentioning Finance and Resources Committee I was trying to get across that it isn't a decision which we can take immediately. But I agree that we need to take action. I would hope that this term we can at least settle the question of what we will do with the St Donatt's Road houses, and begin to make progress on them.

The parade of shops by the Town Hall is harder - not only because of the large amount of money it would take to refurbish them, but also because of their position on our campus; and the needs of the businesses in them. We are looking at options for the shops, but it may not be as quick to address as the houses on St Donatt's Road. And we'll certainly need to discuss ideas with our tenants too.

We've invested in the shops over the last few years: considerable amounts to make the roof watertight; work to address fire safety; a basic refit of one of the shops. But there is much more to do.

I certainly will keep you posted - by this blog, perhaps? - on progress.

Anonymous said...

Please call me Hugh!

Hugh isn't always the best name to use here . . .

Anonymous said...

well it sounds like nothing will change for few more years...

Who are these people?!? Where were they while the properties were left to rotten????? They are just good at collecting salaries and draining resources away from public budgets.

The previous post indicated that the committee started to discuss the issue 2 years ago. A plead to the Tory government to sack them all!!!!

Doh! said...

Te last and, you really have no idea how any half way complex organisation works do you?

Aricana said...

Thanks so much to Hugh and Goldsmiths College for responding so quickly and honestly.

I've lived in the area for 12 years and I'm very aware of the contributions and benefits that the College and students bring to the community.

Lets hope that the College can find buyers for the properties on St Donatts Road quickly and that the shops on the parade can be made useable again in the future either commercially or by the College itself.

Anonymous said...

"Let's have a meeting about having a meeting."

Look forward to seeing some action circa 2018.

Lou Baker said...

@hugh

Of course it is a decision which can be taken immediately.

You may refuse to take it immediately - hence hiving it off to a dubious committee - but it is certainly something which could be acted on now.

It is a disgrace - a complete disgrace - that Goldsmiths has allowed these properties to get in this state in the first place.

You're a university. Supposedly full of the brightest and best. Run a contest for students to come up with the best way to deal with the mess you've created. It is not impossible.

But we're getting none of the necessary get up and go. It's just been handed to a committee - presumably of dull men
in suits - who'll guffaw a lot but who'll do nothing.

Anonymous said...

Developer: So you want to give me some freehold properties, values to be ascertained, in return for some work on some High strreet premises, which consists of what exactly?

Goldsmiths: Some fire regulation dooh dah, painting, I guess.

Developer: And...erm not, not for me to ask, I suppose, but you stand to gain...?

Goldsmiths: Yes we did wonder a bit about that, but we were swayed by the forcefulness of someone called 'Lou' on a local blogsite, seems to know his stuff.

terrencetrentderby said...

i look forward to the outcome of the goldsmiths revolutionary committee

grain production up 20%!

goldsmiths is still at war with oceania

lou baker deliberately contracted syphilis from the proletariat zone deptford

Lou Baker said...

@anon 22:24

We all bow to your wisdom.

I don't pretend my suggestion is the only solution - but it is a possible solution.

Goldsmiths has said it doesn't want the properties in St Donnatts - so it needs to get rid of them.

It does want the core properties but can't afford to do anything with them.

Sure - you have to work out the respective values. But say the properties on St Donnatts are worth £5m and the renovations will cost £5m - well there is a deal to be had.

A deal that would get the unwanted properties off Goldsmiths hands. See them renovated and turned in to much needed homes - removing the blight suffered by residents. And which would see the needed properties transformed.

I don't know precisely what Goldsmiths owns - and where, or what condition it is in. But for a pinko stateist to dismiss it just because a pragmatic capitalist has suggested it? That's just daft.

Anonymous said...

I am Anon 22;24 and I am come to tell you Lou that it was for preciseley the reasons that you puzzle over that we capitalists turned away from barter.

Your attempt to revive an obsolescent exchange system suggests in you either deep seated anxieties about the obscurity of the present one or a hippyish hankering for lost exchange purity.

Which is it to be, ill fitting sandal man?

New Crosser said...

Thank you for responding Hugh.

Please disregard the rude responses - I am afraid for some people the mention of Goldsmiths or any other public body sets off a strange pavlovian response. If Goldsmiths has any spare social psychology capacity they could make a useful study of these suitable cases for treatment.

Returning to the substantive issue, I think all involved need to appreciate that the New Cross Road issue is quite complex. Superficially the easiest thing would be to sell off some properties, and then use the money raised to refurbish the New Cross Road row. But of course that would probably involve kicking out existing tenants Cafe Crema and Prangsta which are lot of people are very attached to (me included). Also if Goldsmiths does raise funds from selling off houses, should it prioritise spending it on New X Road right now, when with spending cuts improving other facilities for students might be more of a priority.

Isobel Williams said...

Thank you very much Hugh, it's great to get a fuller sense of the College's position. I do appreciate that these things are never as simple as they ought to be.

And New Crosser you are right, any changes to the parade of shops should not jeopardise the existing tenants, who add a lot to the character of the area (as does the College).

I am very glad that there's a dialogue now - and yes, Hugh, I suspect that this blog would be an excellent way to keep people informed.

Hugh Jones said...

Thanks again for the feedback. I'll keep you all posted.

patrick1971 said...

I don't understand why New Cross Road is "complex". Either Goldsmiths wants the buildings or it doesn't. If it doesn't want them, sell them.

If it does want them, it must have an idea of what it wants them for.

If money is an issue, give a tenant a free year's rent in exchange for them fixing up the place, or something like that.

I'd be interested to hear more about this supposed "complexity":

"The parade of shops by the Town Hall is harder - not only because of the large amount of money it would take to refurbish them, but also because of their position on our campus"

What does this mean exactly?

"We are looking at options for the shops"

Such as?

Thanks for coming on to this blog to talk about your position, Hugh, it's much appreciated; but what are the actual details and ideas behind these statements?

Anonymous said...

No, i'm Anon 22:24

NXG_Resident said...

@ Hugh Jones

You mentioned one of the shops on the New Cross Road parade has received a basic refit. Which one? I'm guessing it's a unoccupied property and if it is, why have Goldsmiths continued to leave it unoccupied?

Hugh Jones said...

@ NXG_Resident said ...

"You mentioned one of the shops on the New Cross Road parade has received a basic refit. Which one? I'm guessing it's a unoccupied property and if it is, why have Goldsmiths continued to leave it unoccupied?"

310; we're using it as studio space for a Master's degree

EastLondonLines said...

We have written a piece on this issue and invite any comments too. Glad to see a community come together so well on this blog. Keep up the good work Brockley Central!

Check out our article here http://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2012/02/goldsmiths-empty-buildings-holding-back-area/ and let us know what you think.

From your east London newsite - EastLondonLines.co.uk

Anonymous said...

@Doh - "complex organization"

If a single college that has to deal with a couple of off-site properties is a complex decision for a complex organization, I have to assume that in your massive brain anything that is larger than a hairdressers and plumbers is complex.

If this is where we have ended up in the Public sector, then we should clone Thatcher and privatise everything

Double Doh! said...

Thanks anon.... Proving my point beautifully. Take a lie down in a darkened room.

(nice bit of patronising of plumbers and hairdressing, excellent, a snob and ignorant. A devastating combination)

For the avoidance of doubt, the government are not able to sack anyone at Goldsmiths. So not only does your response show a lack of understanding its also demonstrably wrong.

Hope thats clear.

NAT said...

Is that the first mention of BC on national radio?

(Discussion of this topic, 'You And Yours', Radio 4, just now)

TheOracle said...

Thank for that reminder, Nat. i did post on that but on another thread as I couln't find this one.

Praise indeed for Isabella Williams. But I must say that the Goldsmiths chap came across very well.

As one interviewee said, Goldsmiths has been landbanking. Waiting until the prices go up before selling. Or, possibly, waiting until it has the money to develop the properties itself for later use. This may have been acceptable in the past but New Cross is actually shaping up and will move quite a pace once Goldsmiths gets its finger out.

It does seem, due to Isabella's efforts, highlighted on this blog too, that the matter will be brought to a head, positively.

TheOracle said...

Sorry, that should be 'Isobel'.

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