No Open House for Bexley, again
Open House London have announced this year’s programme, a selection of interesting buildings across London that will be open for the public to take a look around on the weekend of 17-18 September. However, Bexley Council have again opted to not take part in the event. The borough originally pulled out of the scheme in 2014.
Open House London has done a great deal to raise the profile of architecture across London. While many will flock to the well-known places taking part, such as the BT Tower and 10 Downing Street, many more will take the opportunity to look around some of London’s less heralded buildings, in some of London’s less heralded places. Open House London does a great job of showing there is more to London than the usual tourist spots in the usual spaces.
So, it is a great shame that Bexley Council have maintained their policy of not getting involved. Bexley has one of the lowest profiles of all the London boroughs. Here would be a chance to showcase the likes of Danson House, Hall Place and the Red House. They could also highlight lesser-known buildings. I’d quite like to take in the view from the top of Marlowe House in Sidcup, take in the Thames from Erith Yacht Club and explore some of the old churches in the area.
A full programme in Bexley could bring a lot of people to the area to discover what the borough has to offer, and to spend money with local businesses while they are there. There are many new homes being built in Bexley, and Bexley remains one of the few areas of London that is (nearly) affordable to live in. Open House London could give many Londoners a reason to want to live in Bexley, rather than seeing it as a last resort, as somewhere they might have to live.
Open House London is also an opportunity to foster some civic pride. Bexley’s residents could explore interesting buildings on their doorstep. This seems especially important for those who could not normally afford to visit some of Bexley’s attractions. Why not help people to feel some pride in where they live?
Perhaps they could even explore those plush new council buildings in Bexleyheath and see where all these decisions are made.
Finances in Bexley are clearly a big issue, as they are for all London boroughs. It is a great shame that Bexley apparently lives such a hand-to-mouth existence, rather than seeing events such as Open House London as opportunities, and ultimately as investments.