OK, I went on a site visit to Elizabeth Shaw today, and met with people from Squarepeg. To summarise as briefly as possible...
I like their plans, especially the fact that virtually all of the original buildings will be retained, whereas Persimmon were only going to, reluctantly, keep the office building. I think the finished development is going to be quite stunning, especially the lofts, the duplex apartments and the town houses. The community will also get a community centre, a bocca bar, some shops, about 40 workspaces, and more. That's what they wanted, and that's why they were so unhappy with the Persimmon plans for just housing, housing and yet more housing.
I think the developers/ architects are genuine people, who understand Greenbank and what sort of development would be appropriate to the area. They agree that the Persimmon proposals were awful.
I also think they're genuine about wanting to enhance, not detract from, use of the cycle path - e.g. with the cycle hut, the hostel for cyclists, the cafe, cycle storage, the cycle houses. I was shown the small piece of land which would have to be removed to build the cycle houses, and from the plans it looks as if it should have been included in the original site sale anyway as it's just a kink in an otherwise straight line which stops them owning it. I was told that some of the greenery that will be removed for building work (which isn't very much) will be replaced, and that overall - taking into account the common spaces, roof gardens, etc - there will be more green space in the area than there is currently. It was also confirmed that the closest any of the cycle houses would be to the path - i.e. the tarmac - is 4 metres.
Finally, I'm convinced they're entirely genuine about consultation. They've had several events, each of which has been attended by 150 people or so. They've written out to the closest 500 households. They are still - despite what I was told the other day - very much in touch with the community activists who originally opposed the Persimmon application. They are bemused by what's being said on the blogs, because the feedback they've been getting from local people has been very positive.
So... what next? They're having an open day on October 18th, actually at the site itself. Anyone who wants to can come down, look at the plans, look around the site, and put into context what they've read or heard about it.
I'm told that none of the people who have been opposing the cycle houses on blogs - Chris, Glenn, Adam, Blogger (and yes, we do know who you are) - have been in touch with the developers directly. So here's the offer. If you want to visit, they'd be happy to meet with you, either on October 18th or at some other time. In fact, why not all come along together? (And that's not a Reservoir Dogs style attempt to lure you to a deserted warehouse where you'll be tied to chairs and forced to listen to Stealer's Wheel... although it's tempting). If you don't like what you hear on the 18th, you still have until the 22nd to submit your objections.