April’s fool joke: why it does work

Author: Cyril Richert

We’ve received many emails since Thursday, reacting to our article on Arding and Hobbs’ proposal for a new 22-storeys hotel tower on top of the iconic building; some of you outraged, some others wondering if it was a bit fishy. The clue was indeed in the date, as it appeared on the website on April’s 1st.

To be honest, this joke was a little bit of an accident. The article was originally intended for 1 April 2020, but a week before a full lockdown was announced for the country, people were battling in shops to buy a roll of toilet paper, and Covid was unfortunately covering the news, so we thought that it might not have been a really good time for additional worry. Therefore, we postponed the article to a future date…. and we forgot about it. Thus we were surprised (in a different way than some of our readers) to see something published on the website on April 1st.

The context was different from a year ago, when we only had rumours that Debenhams might close and that new Arding & Hobbs owner, W Real Estate, could convert the building to a hotel.

However, an April Fool’s joke may work better than other simply because… it looks credible. And indeed here, a lot of people believed that the Council would be capable to approve such monstrous development, for many reasons: new developments being labelled as “stylish landmark” has been used in many recent planning application to justify bulky and massive developments; In the past, the Council said things such as “this is an ambitious scheme which has the potential to transform the town centre by making it a place where people live, work and enjoy their leisure time” and “the difficult task is to balance competing interests for the benefit of the whole community” and indeed in late January 2020 the Council’s leader said: “We want to build new homes and an exciting future for all who live in them”. We also generated a “fake” planning report, using our Automatic Planning Report Generator that we developed for April’s fool day 2019

And when you see what they have approved for Winstanley & York Road estates, it sadly seem too plausible!

The plans for the Winstanley Estate in Battersea

Artist impression of the future of Winstanley and York estates

If you want to know more about the REAL plan for Arding & Hobbs, we suggest you read our article here:

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