For many years I have written about the problems at Islington Wharf. Part of the reason for writing about these flats is to force some change in my way, while others try other things. A lot of people don’t like its all out there for all to read but franklyits been out there for over a decade. The most important thing is to get the latent defects fixed to the comfort of all the people like myself who bought or are renting. Its been way too long!
Waterside places came to the Islington Wharf committee with a proposal after the last one with Laing O’Rourke which was awful didn’t pass. It took some time but after the meeting in April, we were all ecstatic. The next day a email was to everybody
In short all the work which was planned with Laing O’Rourke would go ahead but with Morgan Sindall Construction. They will not use the garden as their workers yard instead use part of the old central retail park and phase 4 space, which is next door. They will do all the latent defect work in 18months instead of 2 years and the best part is they are going to replace all the glass, not stick a film to the outside. The cost of this all to the residents? Zero! Yes no cost. Lets be frank Islington Wharf has a ton of glass, so this is no cheap operation but was always needed. It would likely be easier if done years ago because now phase 2 & 3 makes access much more tricky.
Now you can see why we were ecstatic! This is a massive win and I find myself very fortune I am in the position where this is a option when so many flat owners are having to pay to replace their cladding.
The next part is to get agreement from all the flat owners they will allow access. As you can imagine with support from the committee and mailshots, emails, fb, etc. We have pretty much everybody in agreement. Although some haven’t replied back, likely forcing Waterside places to consider legal action to gain access.
This is most likely the last summer of heat (hopefully), which would be great as I’m experiencing 28c heat while working at home and its 24c outside.
Once things get going, I’ll start updating the older blogs as I do get the occasional press attention, which was the point of writing.
It seems there was a lot of support for the latent defect work but not enough to make it so. Although the actual figures don’t seem to add up or they were looking for 100% of residents to get in touch?
As you can imagine this has caused a lot of distressed. I made my position clear.
I said No to access to my flat before I got the answers back from Waterside places. They had planned to use the shared garden as workers yard for 2 years. Because of that I stuck to the original date sent off my reply 5 days before the original deadline to make sure its was registered.
Waterside places did push the deadline back and I engaged with them over email saying I will change my vote to yes if they can insure garden access throughout the 2 years. They never confirmed this over the multiple emails and because of this I had no real choice.
I had a lot of problems with the whole thing but Waterside places never made clear the garden position. The committee also made clear that if they could confirm the garden, most residents would change their position.
The engagement with the residents I feel has been mishandled (maybe deliberately?). The options on the table were poor then follow ups have been slow and brief.
Of course I do honestly feel for all the flats which are heavily affected by the latent defects. Its awful news, but something else will happen as the latent defects are clearly there and the court case with Laing o’rourke did end in a settlement. Still love to know how much?
So a little update, we received a letter about securing a different location for the builders yard. Originally Waterside Places was planning to take over our garden for 2+ years but I gather the council stepped in and they found another site. Where exactly isn’t very clear, like a lot of the comms from Waterside places.
So with this there has been a lot of talk about the alternative, would releasing Laing O’Rourke of their obligation be the worst idea? Each person has different views on this all. To be fair now the garden is off the table I feel slightly better about things. Although its not super clear (I have asked directly this question).
I am writing to you today to advise you that following further development of the design for High Speed Two (HS2) Limited, some or all of your land and/or property may be required in order to build and operate the railway for the Western Leg of HS2 Phase 2b.
Its a proposal and its not clear how much of Islington Wharf will be affected as I thought the inner ring road and Ashton canal would be problem if they wanted to expand Piccadilly Station. On top of this, there is a lot of land around Piccadilly Station currently the Red light zone or Piccadilly East if you been watching Manctopia. Between Fairfield Street, Chapeltown Street and Great Ancoats Street theres quite a bit of room and a lot of it is made up of old commercial places. Places which would be cheaper to move and are generally not that occupied either.
Its a interesting dimension on top of the saga with Waterside places. Wonder if they were even aware of the HS2 change?
The form will give the go ahead with their poorly thought-out plans to take over the garden for 2+ years, have access to our flats and much more.
Here is the letter I got in my postbox, its part of about 9 pages. But most of it is the times of when flats are scheduled.
Note a few things, the date of the letter is 10th August but they want a reply by the 21st August. Imagine if you are renter, and having to contact your landlord who may not even be in the same country or its all done via a 3rd party like a agent. This could take a long time and who knows what happens if the landlord wants one thing and the renters want the opposite?
There is the minimal of actual detailed information on what will happen. For example what if we have a 2nd Covid19 lockdown, how much noise could result of the work, would we have to lock our things away, etc, etc, etc…. They have requested access to my flat for 4 months next year but its not clear exactly what will happen except this outline. No deadlines or real details.
On top of this our many questions haven’t been answered. For example the sample window in the garden Waterside places admit isn’t right and they promised to replace it with a new sample. Of course this hasn’t happened. The effectiveness of the actual film is questionable, let alone if it doesn’t peel or scratch when the window cleaners come to clean the windows.
Theres also a real concern that the film is so dark that looking through it at night will be like pretty much block out the view, especially at night when you have internal lights on. The right thing to do would be to trial it in someones flat (committee members have offered) and then people could really make a decision (they blame Covid19 for not doing this) However we have to make a rushed decision based on information we don’t actually have access to, which will affect not only the next 2+ years, our health (imagine living on a building site for 2+ years), our security, our privacy, flat prices, etc.
I don’t write this lightly and been writing it over the last week or so. I recognise I’m privileged owning a place in Manchester with a full time job but this needs talking about. I also get it will have an effect on housing prices in Islington Wharf but to be honest I’m so sick and tried of the way residents are being treated. Its clear from the amount of times residents have been lied to, this is most likely going to play out in the media. Even our MP (Lucy Powell) being involved hasn’t had the same effect as media attention. Its clear Waterside places like most companies don’t like media attention, especially when they have phase 4 on the line…
Imagine you live in a lovely flat in the centre of Manchester. Overlooking east Manchester and phases 2 and the new phases 3. great but like all modern flats there are problem. However the problems are not just problems but actually latent defects.
The lovely floor to ceiling glass walls on 2 sides are heating up the flat to such an extend that during the winter months there is no need for heating; but on the other hand during the summer months turning the flat into a oven with temperatures inside +2-5c on the ambient temperature outside. As its a modern flat, you imagine some air-conditioning, nice large windows, etc…
Lets talk about the heat
One window per room with a opening distance of about 7-9cms with the safety locks on and 40cms with locks off. Enough you can jump out, which of course is not recommended at 20 stories high. There is a thing called a Airvac which circulates the air around the flat but its very loud and if you are circulating hot air around its not great. Note as there is only one window per room, the only way you can have a proper draft is opening all the doors and windows.
The heat is painful but to be honest I can tolerant it to a certain extent because I face north east from the the sun rises on my flat and before it gets to midday its already gone. This of course doesn’t make much difference when the ambient temperature is high of course. Which is a general latent defect, as anyone can tell you having walked in Islington Wharf’s corridors which has the hot water pipes running along the celling of each one.
As mentioned I am actually doing well because of the position of my flat. Others including neighbours have to put up with +2-5c on top of mine. For example if its 25c outside, it could be closer to 28c in my flat, while my neighbours could be dealing with closer to 32c in their flat!
I have 4 fans in my flat and always have to take off the safety locks to circulate enough air with all the inner doors open. Having the garden is a thankful refuge from the heat. They offered us aircon units as a kind of acknowledgement of the problem with heat but as you can see previously they were the size of washing machines and suited to industry not a 2 bed room flat. You should hear it going!
The temperature modelling/algorithm (we have many) was made for people not working from home during the day (certainly not built for covid19). It was also setup for a professional different couple with no children. Although Islington Wharf has apartments ranging from 1 bedroom to 4 bedrooms duplex’s! Talk about bad data!
Its also clear the problem lies with the incredible floor to ceiling glass panes. Those apartments without the glass don’t have such a heat problem. We have found the glass seems to be different if replaced from all the shattering we have had (there has been too many, more than average). We have also noted some of the glass as been installed backwards (the kite-mark is different in different flats)
What about the water?
I said I am lucky, and I really mean it. Another latent defect is water ingress. In short there is water leaking from all over the buildings. There was a point recently when there was so much water leaking down the emergency staircase it was leaking into the lobby (wish I took a picture).
Others experience drips of water from there windows and there are many cases when it rains (and it does it Manchester a lot). There is water coming down the walls causing damp and unliveable conditions (aka they have had to put up plastic tarpaulin to separate the living space from the wall and in the end been rehoused.
I personally have seen spots of dry water droplets by the window but never experienced anything like the pictures I have seen from others. Theres a video of a patio with the paving stones pulled up and the rain water just gathering there. As you can imagine, most of the time the water leaks down into levels below.
The building isn’t just leaking, its flooding in parts every time there is rain. Its clear the building wasn’t constructed in a way to handle rain as this has been happening from day one.
The M.E.N. reported how Waterside Places had had to evacuate all the residents in its brand new Islington Wharf Mews developments earlier this year after the homes were found to breach fire safety regulations.
Residents at Islington Wharf, in New Islington, have been engaged in an ongoing battle to get their windows replaced after temperatures repeatedly soared in the summer months. At one stage they had threatened legal action.
Currently the window from which the pane fell in August is still boarded up and Waterside has handed out air conditioning units to the affected apartments.
What about insurance? Let me tell you about insurance!
There is serious thoughts about putting together a court case on this front but raising the money to start the case is a big problem
Where do we go from here?
After 10+ years of fighting with Waterside places about the latent defects, they sued the builders Laing O’Rourke, for some unknown amount of money. Now with some unknown amount of money and a judgement call Waterside places has to fix the residents problem (their term not ours) and Laing O’Rourke will be re-doing the work.
This should be great news but of course they are doing it in the cheapest way possible and ignoring the fact we have been fighting them about these latent defects for 10+ years. They actually feel like the savours not the problem.
However they are doing it in the cheapest way they can… in short
They plan to put a UV film on the outer side of all the windows including mine.
They plan to convert all the windows which open into 2 windows which open. For example my one window pane in the living room will be replaced with two windows one on top of the other which can be independently opened
I can’t get a straight answer out of them about what exactly they will be doing in my flat personally. I’m assuming not much compared to others.
Sounds reasonable right?
Lets add all the things you would expect.
There will be zero compensation!
This will take over 2 years and we will be expected to live in the building/site, no moving out temporally
On top of the previous one, we will be expected to share our key with Laing O’Rourke. No clarification of when and how long for.
Laing O’Rourke will turn our communal garden into their workers yard for 2+ years, meaning no garden access. Waterside places don’t want to use the site for phase 4, which was also used for phase 3 (Islington Wharf locks) because they have planning permission and don’t want anything holding up phase 4. So they are passing their lack of action on the latent defects upon us.
Oh and this all starts in the next couple of months!
With all that would you sign a contact allowing this to happen?
Didn’t think so…
I posed the question of not signing and they (Waterside places) was taken a back like why wouldn’t you sign it? After a while of that awkward silence on the Microsoft Teams conference call (don’t get me started about this), they have no idea what to say. Except there is a clause in our tenancy agreement giving them access in certain circumstances.
As mentioned at the start, this is on going and looking forward, I can only see going public as the way not to be steam rolled into a position which suits them and their budget but will end up massively inconveniencing residents for 2+ years. I’m sure other residents will write their experiences, I’ll be urging them to do it in the public rather than on facebook.
Its been a difficult time recently. My scooter was damaged once again in a break in on the car park where I park. I say again because in April 2018 exactly the same thing happened. Less that a year!
In April 2018, the motorbikes were targetted but none were taken, if I remember some other things were broken and taken. However between the chains and locks broken, it was clear they tried to break my steering lock by forcing the handle bars. They slightly twisted but not at the fork level lucky, this still costed about £150 to fix.
This time the motorbikes were targetted and looking at the CCTV images from the different cameras across the site its clear they were only after the motorbikes nothing else.
There was some other similarities between the break-ins. The CCTV over looking the motorbikes was covered up in both cases.
They also broke into the car park from the building site next door
Unlike last time however, I spotted 4 men acting very weirdly on the canal side on Monday 14th night/Tuesday 15th morning. They were dressed in black with hoods and scarfs across their mouths and noses. They seemed to be breaking into Islington Wharf Mews by jumping over a wall with a sleeping bag to protect themselves from the spikes on top.
23:49 – Calling the non-emergency number (101) I was put on hold for ages but finally by the time they picked up. The men jumped back over the wall to the canal side, they disappeared from my view.
00:09 – The police took some details and asked where they were now. I happened to catch them breaking into the building site from the road side. Telling the police, they originally said they were going to send someone out. However as I found out later they looked at the public CCTV, which obviously doesn’t point on to the building site plus they were dressed in complete black. Once they looked and saw nothing they closed the logged case
00:45 – Meanwhile I hadn’t noticed but saw later on the garage CCTV a 5th man dressed totally in Black was trying to get into the garage by sneaking in while the roller shutter was coming down after some left or entered the garage. He failed and even got shouted at by residents in a car.
00:48 – I get a short phone call from the police asking if I seen anything else new? I said no.
01:08 – Not long after my original call and 20mins after my call back, some men gain access to the car park via the ground floor car park by breaking the wood slats. I know this for sure because the CCTV confirms the moment they broke through and climbed through.
They headed straight for the motorbikes ignoring all the cars and bicycles. Broke two locks of 2 motorbikes, and damaging my scooter. They are in the car park for 35mins (01:08 – 01:43), All their movements around the carpark are captured on our own CCTV, except the one right above the bikes
01:43 – Finally they leave heading out the car park pedestrian door with 2 motorbikes
0941 – I only found out the next day when I was going to work and saw the damage and the missing motorbikes. This time to tried to get at the scooter ignition instead of trying to break the steering lock. As you can see the damage is pretty bad but the steering is actually fine. I checked all the other locks and chains and they are good.
However 2 other motorbikes are gone and I got lucky. I’ve beefed up my locks and now using my alarm more often now (not just the immobiliser). I also got a crime reference and asked about my early morning call. I’m told the case is on going but police were sent out.
1953 – Later in the evening when I call up again, I’m told the cases are not connected was closed and the police were not sent out because there was nothing on a CCTV (no idea which one they are referring to)
My problem I see is…
The police are not connecting the two cases. Now I understand there is a chance the 4 men dressed head to toe in black on a building site may not be the same 5 people who broke into the garage from the same building site stealing the bikes? Yes it happened with 60 mins of my call but who knows – right? What I don’t understand is why no one was sent out? Even a visit could have prevented a crime. They also lied to me on the phone
I don’t get how the building site isn’t partly to blame for it lack of security not just once but twice now. There is a good chance the men stole tools from the building site to break the locks. I certainly didn’t see them carrying anything when getting into Islington Wharf Mews.
The police still haven’t looked or requested the CCTV from Islington Wharf, The Mews or the building site next door. Yes they are dressed in black but it could be useful to see where they came from and got to with the stolen motorbikes?
Why was I told they will send out a police offer but later told they didn’t? I feel like I was lied to….
I’m doing what I can but its slow going and not being able to get actual CCTV (for good reasons) its kinda impossible to convince the police to follow up. This is partly why I decided to share my frustrations without too much details.
I’ve had an update from a few sources and the timeline includes this..
Tuesday 15 January 2019
00:19 – While I see 4 men getting into Islington Wharf Mews, another man also dressed in black from head to toe is trying to gain entry to the Islington wharf car park by trying to sneak in when someone leaves or enters. Unsuccessfully he returns to his hiding position each time. This also explains why 1 of the 4 men I saw kept looking out from their 1st floor position.
00:45 – They tried to gain entry again but a resident closes the shutter too quickly. 3mins later I get my call from the police, but still no one shows up. On the building site they break a padlock on a tool box, giving them access to stronger tools
01:08 – They break into the car park via the ground floor through the fence using the builders tool.
01:18 – They send 2 of them for an initial scope out of the carpark and then after all 5 of them go into the car park. Breaking two locks of 2 motorbikes, and damaging my scooter. They are in the car park for 35mins
01:43 – One of the Residents tried to drive in to the car park and when the roller shutter goes up they run away pushing the motorcycles.
At 8:30am I received a phone call from the special operations police. They had read my email and were slight shocked at how I’d be treated through this investigation. He massively apologized and agreed based on the research I had done, the cases are linked. Then finally at 1300 they did go and review the footage from the flats and are using it in their ongoing investigation along with other CCTV footage.
Today I came back to find a letter from ISIS (now called Waterside places). It made me laugh a little.
In light of the current connotations to the militant terrorist group we have decided to change our name. We want to avoid any confusion or offence it may inadvertently cause partners, residents and local communities
The new name will be Waterside Places…
…The new name and branding will be effective from 11 August
I always wondered when they were going to change the name, the embarrassment alone must have devistating?
People are being forced to move out of a brand new city centre apartment block – because it breaks fire safety rules. Many of the residents in Islington Wharf Mews, on the edge of the city centre, had only bought their waterside properties last year.
But it soon emerged that their newly-built homes were not properly fireproofed. The M.E.N. understands they now have to move out for up to 10 months while the defect is fixed.
Yes ISIS waterside development hadn’t fireproofed the new apartments to the safety standards required by law!
This is frankly not only shocking but a total disgrace; putting many peoples lives in danger. I’m glad this was discovered or revealed before something happened and people died!
Of course as a home owner of ISIS waterside’s Islington Wharf (phase 1) I’m happy to finally see some press attention about the on going shocking state of the heat gain problem in the apartments. This was not taken lightly, with the worry about the affect on property value of course.
Meanwhile the same developer – ISIS Waterside – is also embroiled in a row with people living in the first phase of the development next door. People living in Islington Wharf, which was built in 2008, say they are considering legal action because temperatures soared to more than 35C in their flats every summer. The developer is planning to replace the windows and temporary air conditioning units have been handed out.
This is also pretty much true, its the number one reason why people leave the apartments. We have seen reports of things melting into sofas and temperature reports with photographic evidence of closer to 40c a few years back (we have them backed up). Yes its nice not having to put the heating on in winter but at least my flat is liveable in summer. Some residents have rooms with no chance to open windows!
There have been many tests, and I even had some equipment in my flat testing the heat in the past. Every-time, they (ISIS and others) all pretty much agree something needs to be done. However the proposals to the committee (which I am a part of) have been poor, short-sighted and full of holes.
The air conditioning units were/are temporary till a sustainable long term solution is found. The committee will not be pushed into a solution which ultimately is bad for everybody involved (we have meeting minutes also backed up), but we have been working very hard to make this a reality.
Its worth saying a few things…
The heat problem affects roughly half of Islington Wharf, I’m not affected as my flat faces the sun in the morning and evening only (by pure chance not by design or choice). Islington wharf has had many problems in the past including the terrible communal boiler system, but things have gotten better with a new management company, Revolution.ISIS have been granted approval to build the 3rd phase of Islington Wharf, very much against the Islington Wharf committees support and many of the residents.Its my view that, their track record across Islington Wharf Mews, Granary Wharf (I remember their was a serious problem a few years back, but cant find anything about it now, maybe results have been removed?) and of course Islington Wharf. Should be a clear sign to put the 3rd phase on hold till the other issues are actually sorted out and the residents are happy. No matter what Nigel Franklin, Director of ISIS Waterside Regeneration thinks or says…
Be taken out of my comfort zone by Kate and take her out of comfort zone
Back in September me and Kate took part in the listening project. I had hoped the recording would be on the site by now but instead I’ll say somewhere in the recording, we agreed to take each other out of comfort zone for a weekend.
Host film nights and more dinner parties at mine
I bought a projector and about to fashion a projector screen out of ikea blinds. As the TV screen is lovely but not big enough for lots of people gathered around on my hopefully new corner sofa. I already have the cinema system for it but you can’t be a projector size screen. I also want to host more dinner parties for friends at mine.
Head further a field with the scooter
Where next is a question. I feel like a weekend in Ireland would be easy and good. Although further in to Scotland would be a good move too.
Stay better in touch with old friends
Jennifer emailed me after a long while of radio silence. She was interested in meeting up for a catch up. I thought it was a great idea… We met up and had a really good and productive catch up. I was a great idea and I’m going to follow by doing a similar thing in 2016.
Redecorate the flat
Same as last year, its about time and I might need to get some professionals in to help sort out things including network conduits and shifting radiators.
Work on the book/serialised blog
I have written about 26 chapters and shared a few chapters with close friends. I’m thinking about just realising it as a series of blog entries because I have had interest from others about sharing their stories too. I could even ask for contributions further a field.
See the Aurora (northern lights)
I have spoken to people and Brian Suda has done a great job sending me media about the northern lights. I’m thinking about going to Iceland to see it and of course him before summer. Iceland in April sounds like a great holiday for my birthday maybe?
Make some bold moves with my love life
I got to sort it out, its been a while since I did back to back dating and got really stuck in. It time consuming but in short bursts it can work. But it starts with refreshing my online dating profiles and trying out a few of the new dating services such as Bumble.
So many things I want to explore, which I summaries under the humanity title. Data ethics, going beyond systematic thinking, emotional angles, diversity, using our other senses and deeper conversations… etc etc…
They all deserve attention and focus in 2016 and beyond. Expect to see more focus in the future.
What will I do with this much bandwidth? Well self hosting is a consideration along with being able to access all my media anywhere and everywhere with Plex. I’m also wondering if a more distributed model is viable, cutting out the 5 stacks?
An ambitious plan for a multi-billion pound regeneration around a new-look Piccadilly station can be revealed by the M.E.N. Town hall chiefs want to unlock the rewards of the planned High Speed 2 rail link long before it arrives – in a regeneration bonanza dubbed the ‘opportunity of the century’. Planners want to create a new ‘gateway quarter’ modelled on Amsterdam and New York.It would be centred around the new HS2 terminal – and a grand new entrance plaza replacing the existing front of Piccadilly station.
The plan would also include:
A leafy boulevard linking London Road with east Manchester, ending in a park on Fairfield Street – creating a green corridor between the Medlock Valley and the city centre.
A ‘Spinningfields-style’ business centre between Great Ancoats Street and the Rochdale and Ashton canals.
An ‘East Village’ of waterside homes, shops and offices in Piccadilly Basin.
10,000 new homes between Piccadilly and the Holt Town area of Bradford.
New homes, green spaces and offices on the former Mayfield Depot site.
Sure there will be some kick back on the plans but honestly from Piccadilly Station to Great Ancoats Street is pretty poor. Heck part of it is the red light zone. I do wonder about Piccadilly Basin which currently is a nice quiet part of the city but as long as none of the Northern quarter is taken over, I don’t have much of a problem.
Ok the title is misleading, Barbra Streisand is not moving to Islington Wharf. But I bet if you lived here, you might not be so surprised, heck the chances are you might be excited! Maybe if I changed to another gay icon like Nick Frost, I might have you convinced?
Its Manchester Pride this bank holiday and its amazing to see how large a venture its turned into. I was seeing reports on Twitter that one of the events was warehouse project styled. For those outside of Manchester, the warehouse project is…
The Warehouse Project is a series of club nights organised in Greater Manchester, England, since 2006. It runs from September through to New Years Day each year plus occasional one off dates such as Bank Holiday weekends. It began operations in the disused Boddingtons Brewery in Strangeways, and then moved into a space under Manchester Piccadilly railway station, which previously served as an air raid shelter
The key point is Pride is massive and I was talking to Jane yesterday. I estimated 40% of islington Wharf might be gay… However Vivid Lounge’s Sam, suggested to me that I might be in the minority. In other words there may be a lot less straight people that I think living at Islington Wharf.
So what is it about islington wharf/new islington/northern quarter which seems to attract gay men and women? Me and Jane were talking about this yesterday too. Could it be one of these?
Is it the proximity to Canal Street (Manchester’s famous gay village)?
Is it being close to Piccadilly train station?
Is it the flat prices?
Is it the 5% deposit scheme?
Is it that islington wharf is gay friendly generally?
Sam thinks its a chicken and egg problem, but the proximity to the village (canal street) is great for gay people. I don’t personally think its that close but considering other areas, like castlefield, green quarter, spinning fields, etc he might have a valid point. The proximity to Piccadilly station is attractive for everyone including myself. I can go from door to train in less than 15mins walking.
Sam suggests maybe lots of gay people working away from Manchester and this would be high on the list maybe? I do know a few people who work in London 3 days a week and yes they are gay.
The price of the flats and the deposit scheme might work hand in hand. Saving up 5% deposit for a flat is great news and to be fair if your buying it alone this can be done. Usually saving a deposit of 10% is a struggle and only a couple can do it maybe? (before you scream at me in the comments yes I know lots of gay couples but generally I would say most gay people in Islington Wharf are single, judging by the shocking amount of men on Grindr – that I’ve been shown!)
The chicken and egg problem Sam suggested might come into play with the last one. How do you make it gay friendly? I would suggest Islington wharf is full of modern thinking/liberal people who don’t have a problem with gay people in society. I remember one guy who was gay himself, who seemed a little shocked that I was so accepting of gay culture (he assumed I might have a slight problem). I think he expected me to be upset about it or something?
If anyone works out the answer to the question, they will be very wealthy (and of course rich which would be a shame)
What ever the reason, there are some interesting studiesabout thedifference a Gay community can do. I’m just happy to be living in a place full of interesting liberal minded people… Starbucks and Pizza Express (meant to be the sign of a up and coming area right?) do not have a patch on the rainbow flags and consistent looking at mobiles screens of the gay community. Funny enough, Umair Haque said something which is very fitting…
Never bet against love. It’s the only force that has ever truly changed the world…
Fran of Vivid Lounge UK welcomes you with that warm smile, while Sam hides in the Kitchen (maybe to keep his head from exploding)
Over a year ago I wrote a blog post which made me one of the most hated people in my apartment block (islington wharf). It wasn’t deliberately made to piss anyone off but I guess no one wants to hear the truth, specially when things are on the line. Some said I was in-sensitive and my timing was very bad. No matter what they think, I wrote a number of points which I suggested could be to blame for the rapid shutdown of Vivid Lounge.
Engagement with the residents and residents committee…
Taking feedback on the chin
Celebrate every moment
Its not just about us…
Whats on the menu?
Each one I backed up with some of my own thoughts….
Anyway over the last year or so, I’ve witnessed a place go from closed to busy and delightful.
So what happened? Well frankly they did most of the things I suggested in the blog post. Of course I’m not suggesting I was directly responsible for the transformation but the owner(s) did read the post at least.
So whats changed?
The decor of the old Vivid lounge was too plastic and white. It didn’t feel homey and because of that it suffered deeply. Well now the white plastic table/chairs are gone (good thing because they were falling apart anyway) and we have wooden tables and benches. Ok from Ikea but to be honest I and others couldn’t care less. Every single customer who has come in has said great things about the new look. More wood is planned and I’m sure it will be a similar effect.
The bright stark lights are all gone and now theres gentle hanging lights and plenty of tealights/candles. Its really making use of the space better now (at least on the ground floor). The top floor still needs to be sorted out as its basically a store room right now.
Feedback is less welcomed, but only because Sam the owner is convinced he knows everything. I guess its like telling Steve Jobs how to run Apple. And like Jobs, Sam has his own strong opinions which drive the momentum of VividloungeUK. He’s a bit of a perfectionist, so at least he can spot the problems. He also seems to be amassing the right people behind him (including a Fran who was a manager at Starbucks). On top of that the amount of staff has dropped down to about 2 -3 on the weekends and 1-2 during the week. Much more sensible levels of staffing.
Saturday and Sunday before 1pm its possible to get a full english cooked breakfast and its even possible to have it delivered to your door if you call up or leave details on facebook. But there are limitations to the size of the kitchen, meaning the hugely popular vividboxes had to go. Now you have a couple choices from the specials which is every day now. There is also a menu with daily pre-made sandwiches in a fridge you can just grab if your in a rush. When I walked in today, there was some made menus on the table. I hear the full menus are coming real soon but generally you can see what they got from whats on the board and stuff in the fridge.
Theres much more engagement with the other apartments in the area and they even deliver to Milliners Wharf, Vulcan Mills and Chips. Vivid isn’t reliant on just islington wharf anymore, theres a much more local pub feeling and they even play with the local and homemade idea in their branding.
I can’t praise Sam and VividLoungeUK enough (although I wouldn’t do the first one to his face because we regularly takes the piss out of each other). I do wish he got a proper website and there were changes to upstairs but honestly I’m impressed.
Well worth visiting and making your local if your in the New Islington area of Manchester. Look forward to a review update in another year…
I do wonder how many Islington Wharf people walked pass the power lead going from block B reception into a usually closed door leading to the main retail unit? Well I didn’t and followed it through a number of doors and spaces before emerging into the main disused retail unit in Islington Wharf.
I found the Manchester remapping art/architecture project… Which was run by Manchester’s architecture college.
So if you not guessed the plan is to recreate most of the special buildings in manchester in plasticity and then start tweaking the shapes and forms. You can see media city below for example.
The students are doing this till Saturday. So if you want to go check it out for yourself you got a bit of time.