Luxury London development could be renamed after MP brands slave trade links ‘sickening and offensive’

·2-min read
A row has broken out over the names of buildings and roads in Plantation Wharf  (Plantation Wharf)
A row has broken out over the names of buildings and roads in Plantation Wharf (Plantation Wharf)

A luxury London development could be renamed after an MP said its street and building names "mocked the history of the brutal transatlantic slave trade".

Plantation Wharf on the Thames in Wandsworth includes buildings and streets called Cotton Row, Trade Tower and Molasses House.

Owners have said they are consulting on changes after a string of complaints about the links to slavery.

Battersea MP Marsha de Cordova branded the names "sickening and offensive".

She told the Standard: "What does it make you think of? The brutal transatlantic slave trade.

“It glorifies what was an abhorrent enslavement of African people.

"It goes back to people just having an awareness of our history and our values as British people. In this day and age we can't have buildings and streets named things such as this. It is offensive."

Ms de Cordova added that she wrote to Wandsworth council last year at the height of the Black Live Matter protests asking for a review of street and building names, but did not receive a reply.

Labour MP Marsha de Cordova, pictured canvassing in Battersea, branded the names “offensive” (Lucy Young)
Labour MP Marsha de Cordova, pictured canvassing in Battersea, branded the names “offensive” (Lucy Young)

The site, a former sugar refinery, was built in the late 1980s and occupied by a mix of offices and homes.

It was recently redeveloped as a site for financial services, restaurants, offices and multimillion pound flats.

But the original building names, which are divided into rows labelled after food and fabrics, were kept.

Dr Vanessa Brady, from the Plantation Wharf management board, said the board had agreed to "review the history of the name and propose a change through consultation with all residents".

Research has been commissioned into the names “associated with international trade and with business from far away countries”, she said.

"It is our view that this area has positively embraced a cosmopolitan culture and many families who reside here in Battersea and Wandsworth will have generations of family connected to the Wharf,” she added.

"It is important that we don’t forget or ignore their past whilst it is also important in the world we live in to ensure we provide opportunities to address any changes we make or we stand the potential risk of offending many other Black people if we eradicate the past as if it did not exist.

"We know today that slavery is unacceptable, I cant imagine anyone supporting it.

"For these reasons we opted to present the history uncovered by professional researchers and historians to stakeholders for consideration then vote on the developments name.

"As a board we will then act on the majority vote from a position of consultation and inclusion which is our democracy."

A Wandsworth council spokesman added: “This is a private development in which the buildings were named by the developer 26 years ago in 1995.

"We understand that its current management team has been approached on this issue and has expressed a willingness to look again at the names of these buildings."

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