Adam Bird


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Friday, 20 June 2008

Communications with Land Securities

In an attempt to open communications with the people behind the Ebbsfleet Landmark I was provided with contact details for Land Securities by a fellow blogger who shares similar opinions to me.

I list below the transcript of our email correspondence (so far) in the belief that by sharing this information other people can learn more about their take on the project and have a further understanding of what's being planned.

Good afternoon,

I am writing in the hope that this email is one of many concerns voiced regarding the five shortlisted designs for the Ebbsfleet Landmark.

Upon hearing of the idea initially I was led to believe that the landmark was being developed for the residents of Ebbsfleet as a vocal point, a place that made them feel "at home". I asked myself the question - How can you build something for somebody who isn't even there yet? Surely the people of Gravesend, Northfleet, Swanscome and the local area, the people who have been there for years need to feel at home and a sense of pride in this just as the people who are being encouraged to move to the area?

My second worry was that the money being spent on the Landmark, from £2m - £10 million, depending on what sources you believe. Now being a resident of Gravesend I thought that even the lowest figure, £2m is an astronomical price to pay when you consider that many parts of Gravesend, Northfleet, Swanscombe etc are suffering from real neglect and would benefit hugely from this money instead. Although I understand that Land Securities is non government and so doesn't have a say in where the council spend their money, it is still I believe a valid concern.

However opposed to the landmark I was before the 5 shortlisted designs were put forward, is nothing to how I feel now that they have been announced.

Each and everyone of the five designs is so far removed from anything that resembles the local history, culture, asthetics, environment and indeed it appears from my point of view and many people that I have spoken to that the artists have got this inappropriately wrong.

I urge you to reconsider the proposals and invite local people to have a larger say in the final design and help chosing a final landmark. I personally believe that this is unrequired right now and so a best case scenario would be for the idea to be shelved all together and regenerated later once the Ebbsfleet residents are settled and more familiar with how the community has bedded in. But this is probably unrealistic and so it is important for me to stress the importance on getting the design right, not just for the local area, but on a national level too.

I know that Graham Hampsheir ( has proposed a design that was overlooked by the people who are organising this and although I don't beleive that this is the right choice either, having believed that the artist has taken the "angel of the south" too literally and that the landmark shouldn't necessarily be synchronised with that of the north. However the final landmark, once complete should fit in harmony with it's surroundings, be considerate to the local history and have as much input from the local people as possible,

I realise that these designs are being showcased at Bluewater, but this is nothing more than a publicity stunt, saying "here are the designs, one of these will blight your landscape shortly". Nobody who visits the display gets to vote and more importantly nobody gets to say "No I don't want any of these".

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this email (I hope) and would certainly appreciate a response. I hope that common sense prevails, but I am a realist and understand that most likely you are to receive a few letters/emails of complaint and will carry on regardless.

Adam Bird

Dear Mr Bird,

Thank you for your email dated 10th June which was forwarded to me by Suzanne Kemmenoe from Land Securities. Firstly, apologies for the delay in responding to your email. Since the launch of the landmark proposals, we have received a large number of enquiries and it has taken some time to respond to each one individually.

We worked closely with our panel of art advisors to invite artists to submit proposals who we felt would be able to respond imagainatively to the history of the site and the changes that are planned to take place at Ebbsfleet Valley, as well as having experience of creating artworks in the public realm. It was by no means out of intention to overlook a locally based artist such as Graham Hampsheir, in fact at least two of the artists on the shortlist have strong personal connections to the local area.

Each of the artists responded to a detailed brief linked closely to the site and the specific indentity of Ebbsfleet Valley/ We appointed a historic advisor, Christoph Bull, head of Dartford Library, who helped us to brief the artists and we believe that each of the proposals very much relates to the identity of the site. More information about how the artists have interpreted Springhead's history and contemporary identity can be found on the website:

With regards to your concerns about the money being spent, £2mn is a lot of money, but Ebbsfleet is an important location with impressive plans. Already Land Securities is commited to a huge amount of 'planning gain' contribution for local facilities and this additional amount, contributed by various organisations, was felt to be necessary to ensure the appropriate level of quality and scale for such an important place.

We are in full support of local people having their say in the landmark and we are keen to hear people's comments on the proposals, which is why we are holding an exhibition of all the artist's models at Bluewater shopping centre. In addition, we also have an exhibition display at the offices of both Gravesham and Dartford Borough Council, where you are invited to 'Have Your Say' with the comments cards that we have provided. Finally, for those that are not able to visit any of these three venues, we also have a section on our website where you are able to feedback your comments. All of the feedback will be analysed and will be considered by the Selection Panel when the final decision is being made.

Yours sincerely

Managing Director

Good Afternoon,

Thank you very much for your response - a typical "corporate" reply, which gives a lot of information but doesn't really provide much in reply. Your opinion that each of the five designs relating to the identity of the site really proves how far from touch you really are with the local people.

My suggestion to you would be to ballot every household in Gravesham and surrounding areas with a list of the five designs and a further option that says "none of above". I can almost certainly assure you that most will tick and reply with the latter.

I will endeavour to continue supporting the petition ( that calls for a more transparent communication process between the local people and yourselves. I am 100% not convinced that whatever responses you receive, whatever your findings are - one of the five designs will be chosen regardless. Ultimately at a detrimental cost to the local people.


Adam Bird

Dear Mr Bird

Thank you for your prompt response to my letter. I am sorry that you found it inadequate and that you think that I am out of touch. Whilst you have a right to have such opinions, your reply indicates that I may be somewhat more open-minded than you. Now there's a thought that you might like to consider.

We await with great interest the outcome of the unprecedented consultation that is taking place at Bluewater (and via the two town halls and the web).

Yours Sincerly

Managing Director

Mr Jordan,

Whilst you personally may be open minded and I believe also that I am open minded to many things, the situation regarding the Ebbsfleet Landmark is nothing to do with how liberal minded either of us are. This isn't about you and I, this is about the people of Gravesham, Kent and even the UK vs the Ebbslfeet Landmark.

I live in the area and have always done, my family too. I am sure that you aren't and therefore not so personally affected by what happens in the local area.

My point still remains and is backed up by hundreds of forums around Kent and the UK that the five shortlisted ideas are not in keeping with the local area, culturally, historically and aesthetically. I would even go as far as to say that they are not appropriate on a National Level where there are many examples of art and sculpture givine the UK a portfolio to be proud of.

It is all very well having showcases at Bluewater and the website, but it is a matter of procedure. The landmark will go ahead anyway. Invite a broad range mixture of people from varying backgrounds to sit on the judging panel and let them have a say.

Best regards

Adam Bird


I still feel that the "public consultation" phase that is currently being undertaken is just a matter of procedure and policy. I also never meant that Mr Jordan personally was 'out of touch', it appears that the artists who five designs have been shortlisted clearly are!

Please post any comments on your thoughts about this, or view the facebook group for the contact details for Land Securities.


Steph said...

What a rude man!!! Keep it up though babe. That is one of the things I love about you - determination!!!!! xxxxxxxxxx

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