Author: Cyril Richert
A public meeting was organised yesterday, Thursday 28th January, by the Putney Society to present Wandsworth Borough Council’s new plans to guide the form and shape of re- developments in the borough over the next decade or so. The room in the Brewer Building, St Mary’s Church (Putney Bridge) was full, showing the great concern of the local residents. Martin Howell, Group Planner, Policy and Information at the Town Hall, gave an illustrated presentation of the plans and answered the questions.
The Core Strategy (which sets out the the Council’s vision on the development of the borough for the next 15 years – more explanation here), part of the Local Development Framework (LDF) for Wandsworth borough, was submitted to the Secretary of State in March 2009.
The independent Planning Inspector undertaking the examination of the documents identified concerns in relation to the policies and supporting evidence on affordable housing and tall buildings particularly, and the lack of comprehensive table indicating the relationship between the Core Strategy policies, the related infrastructure requires to deliver the policies and the indicators which will be used to monitor delivery of the plan.
In order for the Council to submit additional documentation, the process was delayed, submissions received by the Inspector up to Friday 6 November 2009 and an initial meeting took place with the Inspector on December 8th. The examination of the Core Strategy will take place at the Town Hall starting on Tuesday 2 February. You can see the schedule in our Agenda page.
Tall buildings, the main concern of the residents, will be the main subject on Thursday 4th. We were invited to participate to the debate along with the Wandsworth Society, the Putney Society and the Battersea Society, as we have submitted a joint statement during the consultation phase. Unfortunately I cannot make any meeting next week but we will be represented by John Dawson, chair of the Wandsworth Society.
The Wandsworth Local Development Document comprises the Development Management Policies Document (DMPD) and the Site-Specific Allocations Document – Preferred Options (SSAD). They can be seen in local libraries or on the Council’s website (as they are often renamed, or moved, we have made available the latest version on our website: SSAD1 & SSAD2). The plans are out for consultation until … next week, February 5th!
The new policy is meant to be evidence-based where plans need to be:
- consistent with national policy
The process of defining the new policy, which is going to replace the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) adopted in August 2003, can be long and require a lot of efforts. The Inspector will decide whether the documents submitted by the Council are sound; if the policy is not successful, the Council will have to say how it will be rectified. Albeit criticisms on its complexity, the process can be credited for providing better guidelines for developers, which has been requested for a very long time by the amenity Societies.
The SSAD is meant to go before the Council in July 2010 for a first review and could be adopted in April 2012. The new documents are subject to modifications after the consultation phase and therefore cannot be used in current planning applications: only the existing UDP and the London Plan may be considered, at least until later this summer, repeated Martin Howell. The current UDP does not have any mention of size for buildings (tall buildings are those which exceed their surrounding…).
However, as we can hope, the new size limits specified in the SSAD do not come out of thin air, and we can reasonably assume that they are based on solid arguments. Therefore, I have difficulties understanding why those arguments are not used in current planning applications! An example? Osiers Road, where the SSAD says that “applications for buildings of more than 18 storeys will generally be unacceptable, and will only be considered in exceptional circumstances” but a 21-storey tower and high density (contradictory to London policy framework) were quickly approved by the Council on January 7th.
Explanation was asked on the wording “exceptional circumstances” to describe conditions where buildings exceeding the maximum size for the location would be considered. Martin Howell said that it will be the case when planning application will provide important benefits for the community. Section 106 (i.e. will the developer needs just to pay a bit more to get its scheme approved?)
As I said previously the SSAD consultation is only open until end of next week (Friday 5th). It started on December 11th. What did you say? You did not hear about it? Well, same outcry was heard yesterday night from the public. Martin Howell explained that a statutory notice was published in the Wandsworth Guardian and a few posters displayed in some estates. However the Council missed the deadline for Brightside! [For information 150,000 copies of Brightside are distributed for free to every household in the borough to be compared with only a share of the 67,000 copies sold for the Wandsworth Guardian (figure made by the combination of Putney, Balham and Streatham editions)]
Therefore only a few comments on the SSAD (about 20 according to Martin Howell) have been received by the Council so far! We urge you the have your say and let the Council know what you think. You don’t need to comment on the whole document (about 200 pages for the SSAD) but can concentrate on your area of interest. I will try to submit a representation for Clapham Junction: albeit being removed from the tall building preferred zone, they display up to 20-storey buildings for the station site, which is, in my view, still too high for the area, considering the extended zone of residential Edwardian and Victorian houses and the iconic Arding and Hobbs building of no more than 6-8 storeys; but please don’t wait for me ;-)
Presentations can be send by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or by post:
Planning Policy, Technical Services Department,
Town Hall, Wandsworth High Street,
London, SW18 2PU
You letter could be made with the following points:
- Do you consider the Core Strategy is sound? = Yes/No
- Do you consider the Core Strategy is unsound because it is not = (1) Justified/(2) Effective/(3) Consistent with national policy
- Please give details of why you consider the relevant Core Strategy policy is not legally compliant or is unsound. Please be as precise as possible. If you wish to support the legal compliance or soundness of the DPD, please also use this box to set out your comments. = … (the term relates to specific tests of soundness given in government guidance PPS12)
- Please set out what change(s) you consider necessary to make the Core Strategy legally compliant or sound, having regard to the test you have identified in the question above (Justified/ Effective/ Consistent with National Policy) where this relates to soundness. You will need to say why this change will make the DPD legally compliant or sound. It will be helpful if you are able to put forward your suggested revised wording of any policy or text. Please be as precise as possible. = …
- If your representation is seeking a change, do you consider it necessary to participate at the oral part of the examination? = NO/YES, I wish to participate at the oral examination
- If you wish to participate at the oral part of the examination, please outline why you consider this to be necessary: = …
Last but not least: big thank to Martin Howell who took time to explain about the Council’s work and was in the challenging position of representing the Council’s views.
Author: Cyril Richert, reviewed by Shirley Passmore and Claire Bennie
Meeting with Peabody Trust – 22 January 2010
Following our report of the scheme to redevelop Peabody Estate in Clapham Junction, Claire Bennie, who is managing the project, offered to meet with us and explain the need, the purpose and the consultation process.
It was a very pleasant, constructive and open conversation for more than 2 hours and we will try to report below the essence of the discussion.
Founded in 1862 by London-based American banker George Peabody, the Peabody Trust, known for short as “Peabody”, is one of London’s oldest and largest housing associations with about 19,000 properties across the capital.
Six years ago, the government created a series of criteria defining a minimum standard for estates. Peabody calculated the cost to them would be £150m and therefore immediately stopped talking about new building and concentrated its effort on refurbishing instead. In the process, they identified 4 estates were they thought it could be better to redevelop rather than to repair, and Clapham Junction is one of them.
Clapham Junction estate contains 351 flats (275 affordable rented and 76 short-term leases). In the 60′s they converted all the flats by making bathrooms within the properties. 13 years ago they replaced the windows. However Peabody is considering now the possibility of redeveloping the site with a totally new estate.
Right from the beginning they have involved the tenants and started the discussions at the beginning of 2007. The residents helped in choosing the designer. Following rules from the European Union, they called for an international competition and eventually chose Hawkins Brown to draw up plans for a £100 million new estate (to be compared with a cost of £8-10m to refurbish only). An independent agency was asked to do a survey and they got a positive reaction from the neighbourhood. However some concerns were raised mainly:
- size of some of the buildings
Peabody started to talk with the borough planners in February-March 2008 about their scheme.
The economic crisis in 2008 halted the plan and they did not do anything in 2009. However they recalculated the economic potential of the redevelopment of the site at the end of 2009 and as it looked financially viable, they decided to restart the process.
During the consultation process the role of the Societies (primarily the Battersea Society and the Wandsworth Society regarding the location of the area) was highlighted with regard to the effect on the local area.
Particular consideration will be given to:
- density (in relation to the London plan)
- private amenities and space
- parking (although there are different opinions on car policy, any residential building attracts cars, even if only usage at weekends)
Albeit being a non-profit organisation, they have to make the scheme pay for itself and therefore aim to maximise the density and potential of the site. This will also mean some of the properties will be for private sale.
Of course the question of the size of the towers was raised. On the current sketches, they show a 21-storey tower, along with a 13-storey and 10-storey building. Located at the top of the hill, they will appear to be about 28 storeys when viewed from Arding and Hobbs and will nearly double the size of the estate in Grant Road (Peabody said that the datum heights between the Clapham Junction crossroads and the Peabody site will be measured accurately using OS data to ensure that everyone has the same data.).
They are concerned with the planning documents produced by the Council stating that (Site Specific Allocations Document – p94):
“Applications for buildings of 5 or more storeys will be subject to the criteria of the tall buildings policy [...] tall buildings in this location are likely to be inappropriate.”
But they also highlight apparent contradiction in the wording of the same documents as it also says:
“Further west across the site the built form could be more intense of 6 to 8 storeys with taller buildings towards St. John’s Hill.”
Therefore they will seek to clarify the guidelines with the Council. They also wish to discuss with the local residents and amenity groups. If the property market seems to flourish again, they could achieve the same benefits with a lower density and smaller buildings, or could position the buildings in a different way. However they have tried to minimise the impact on the adjacent properties near the common, as well as protecting the residents from the railway noise with taller buildings on the other side.
In terms of design Peabody will pay the utmost attention to reaching the highest quality. The statement to give all residents private, outdoor space, will be addressed by providing balcony or roof terraces to all flats, or private communal gardens. Parking spaces will be built under raised-gardens and directly accessible through the streets in the estate.
The scheme will be a mix between rented social housing grants and the sale of private homes with approximately:
- 32%: 1 bedroom flats/houses
- 32%: 2 bedroom
- 32%: 3 bedroom
- 4%: 4 bedroom
It is proposed that the private and rented homes will be mixed within the estate.
Current residents will be relocated block by block (flats on temporary leases will be emptied to be available for the relocation of tenants).
The schedule could be:
- September 2010: planning application
- 2011-2020 (upon approval): work
Peabody Trust aims to organise about three further meetings with the local community before a planning application is submitted, each of which would be held in advance of three similar meetings with the town planners. We suggested that a mock-up of the scheme could be on display permanently in one of the lodges in the estate for instance.
Author: Cyril Richert
Beside the Neighbourhood School Campaign for a secondary school in the area of Clapham Junction (possible site being the former Bolingbroke hospital) I quickly publish below 3 links to be added to the debate:
- School and college achievement and attainment tables (government’s website): results for the area of Battersea here.
- Three Wandsworth secondary schools are among the country’s top performers in this year’s national league tables. A press release from Wandsworth Council said:
From a total of 3,196 state secondary schools, Southfields Community College and Chestnut Grove School recorded the fifth and ninth highest scores respectively in the Contextual Value Added (CVA) league table.
In addition, Ernest Bevin College was named the fifth most improved school in the country with GCSE results rising 35 per cent over the last four years.
- Just two companies remain on the shortlist of firms bidding for Wandsworth’s Building Schools for the Future contract. A press release from Wandsworth Council said:
Bovis Lend Lease Ltd and Willmott Dixon Ltd have been selected to go through to the final stage of the tendering process. A preferred bidder is expected to be chosen by the end of July.
They will produce detailed plans for investment in the two ‘sample’ schools, Southfields Community College and Burntwood School, and ICT investment across all the schools.
A new Catholic secondary school, Saint John Bosco, will also be built as part of the project and Elliot School in Putney will be completely remodelled.
Author: Cyril Richert
Step1: The Inspector criticizes Wandsworth Borough Council for its lack of evidence on defining tall buildings area and supporting evidence
In a letter received on September 24th 2009, we can read:
“Following submission [of the new Core Strategy/vision of the Council for the future of the borough], the Inspector undertaking the Examination of the Core Strategy identified concerns in relation to the policies and supporting evidence on affordable housing and tall buildings, and the lack of comprehensive table indicating the relationship between the Core Strategy policies, the related infrastructure requires to deliver the policies and the indicators which will be used to monitor delivery of the plan.
The Council has now provided the Inspector with the additional information required, including an affordable housing economic viability assessment and a Stage One Urban Design Statement and is proposed a number of changes to the Core Strategy. As recommended by the Inspector, the Council is now consulting on the proposed changes to the Core Strategy [...] All other proposed changes [i.e. except percentage of affordable homes] in relation to tall buildings and affordable housing are open to representations in relation to soundness!”
(click on the image to enlarge).
The Inspector’s concerns in relation to tall buildings reflected the representations made by EH on the proposed submission version, namely that the tall buildings policy has not been informed by an urban design study in accordance with the Government endorsed EH/CABE “Guidance on Tall Buildings 2007”.
To address English Heritage’s and the Inspector’s concerns, the Planning Service produced a high level urban design statement, bringing together the information that was used to identify the locations which may be suitable for tall buildings (PAPER NO. 09-744 / PLANNING AND TRANSPORTATION OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – 10TH SEPTEMBER 2009 / EXECUTIVE – 14TH SEPTEMBER 2009).
The Council published a map with colours of preferable heights (P78 of SSAD2).
I specifically highlight the location of Osiers Estate on the map.
- Numbers without brackets: height at which buildings are considered tall buildings.
- Numbers inside brackets: height above which buildings are unlikely to be considered acceptable.
In addition in SSAD1, p74, you can read:
Views: High building proposals could have an impact on sensitive views of the site from Wandsworth Park, the Thames and Wandle Riversides and from the opposite bank of the Thames, particularly Hurlingham Park. More local views from the Spit and The Causeway, including Causeway Island, will be important and should be considered.
Tall buildings: In accordance with the Council’s Stage 2 Urban Design Study – Tall Buildings, applications for development of 9 storeys and above will be subject to the criteria of the tall buildings policy contained in the emerging DMPD. Applications for buildings of more than 18 storeys will generally be unacceptable, and will only be considered in exceptional circumstances. Any tall building proposed should not harm sensitive views from Wandsworth Park and the Thames riverside or the setting of Prospect House, Point Pleasant – listed grade II.
Step3: The Council approved a 21 storey tower in Osiers Industrial Estate
Redevelopment of Osiers Industrial Estate (1-20 ENTERPRISE WAY – existing 20 storage and sheds located to the North and South of Enterprise Way ) application 2009/3017 went before the planning committee on the 7 January 2010
The conclusion in report of the planning officer said:
The 21-storey tower challenges the policy framework for the redevelopment [...].With this aspect of the scheme the judgement for the Committee is whether the benefits the scheme will bring for the regeneration, townscape and public realm justify its inclusion in the proposals.
The very high density of the development in a poor PTAL [transport facilities] area also poses a challenge to the policy framework.
However the recommendation was to grant permission and the Council approved the scheme in a straight forward decision where only the 2 Labour Councillors opposed.
It includes a tower of 21 stories. There is no exceptional circumstances highlighted in the report.
Draw your own conclusion…!
Regarding specifically Osiers Estate, Stuart King, Labour parliamentary candidate for Putney wrote a statement on his blog and is said to petition the local residents. Others will meet with Justine Greening (Putney MP) to talk about the issue.
Author: Cyril Richert
Meeting with Network Rail – 21 January 2010 – 1pm-2.30pm
Paula Haustead [Network Rail - in charge of delivering plans for CJ]
Lucy Norton [Network Rail]
Chris Wiggan [Network Rail]
Cyril Richert [CJAG]
1- Current situation
They have been deeply disappointed by the recommendation for refusal coming from the planning officers for the planning proposal from Metro Shopping Fund (Delancey). They said that (contrary to our sources) there was no plan for Clapham Junction before the Twin Towers (I was told not to use those cursed words) Delancey’s plan. Actually Network Rail (NR) worked since CP2 (Control Period 2 – funding period 2001-2004) and for 5 years (2004-2009) with Delancey and the Council to come up with a proposal. They also said that it was part of their instruction from Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) to work with third parties and private investors. The total cost of that study was £2m!
They are currently spending money on a new entrance (Brighton Yard entrance) which will hopefully direct 30% of the flow of passengers entering or exiting the station at St John’s Hill currently. According to projections of ORR it should cover up to the year 2026 when the same level of congestion currently experienced will be observed again.
The East London Line will arrive in platform 2 (instead of 1 as originally planned) and will be sharing with the over-ground. Platform 1 will stay unused as it is. However they are likely to keep the track in case it is needed in the future.
Plans for Heathrow link are still under discussions and there is no confirmation that it will stop at Clapham Junction (again, this is not what we heard).
The number of overground trains going to and coming from Willesden Junction should double (NR proposes to restore double track to the “Latchmere Curve” during the summer of 2010. This will enable the frequency of overground services to Willesden Junction to be increased to 4 trains per hour from 2011).
2- On going improvements
The cost of the new entrance is £1.5m with £500k coming from the government, £300k from the Council (not redirected from the Exemplar Scheme as we might have suspected previously) and £700k coming from various funding, including TfL and London Heritage (?). NR made very clear that it was the only station in the all country with “Access for All” scheme providing a new entrance.
From the £2m planned for cosmetic improvement (repainting, lightening, canopies,…) some will be redirected to pay for the Brighton Yard entrance (as a cost example, a single ticket barrier is £30k). The global funding for Brighton Yard was overseen by an industry group called The Clapham Junction Forum made by NR, London Underground, TfL, SWT, Southern.
Lifts are currently installed on all platforms (part of the “Access for All” government policy). Original funding from the government was £8.5m but they think now that costs will exceed this amount. Work is meant to finish in June 2010 and at the same time a temporary “smaller” station entrance for Brighton Yard will be opened (example of what it coult be in the picture below).
I asked them about the possibility to create a stair-case at the level of Brighton Yard entrance, coming from St John’s Hill (see current plans from NR HERE) to avoid going all along to reach the vehicle entrance. However they explained that:
- it is about 6m high and it seems to much;
- it would mean reallocating/6 month notice for the shop under the arches at the point;
- they do not have the funding.
They had some delays as they needed to destroy a café on platform 15/16 to install the lift. However as the whole station is in the Conservation area, it took an extensive (and difficult) 6 month period to get the necessary authorisation. Although the bridge is not listed, this experience makes it really unlikely that they will look for more amendments in the future.
Bus stops won’t be reallocated (road to narrow) but an additional bus stop will be created before the entrance coming from Wandsworth town.
The £20m allocated to platform lengthening and straightening at CJ is no longer considered necessary and goes back to the pot of funding for all Sussex lines! They managed to realign the platform 15/16 without the land that was meant to be provided with Delancey’s plan (no talks about platforms 11/12 and 13/14 which were in funding period CP4 2009-2013 – p63).
3- Presentation to Lord Adonis, January 20th
The Transport Secretary wanted to know what is happening after his announcement. At the meeting he requested (January 20th) were representations for the 10 stations included in the plan. Cllr Edward Lister (leader of Wandsworth Council) was also attending the meeting.
They confirmed that Clapham Junction has been defined as the most in need along with Manchester Victoria station (receiving £10m apparently). A decision was made to concentrate on a few major improvements instead of spreading the funding on a lick of paint (although you could spend £2m repainting CJ station, they said).
As was reported by Martin Linton before, they suggested spending the funding on facilities for passengers inside the station, mainly platforms 9/10, 11/12, 13/14:
- Canopy extension.
- Waiting rooms.
- More staff.
- More stairs (from the overpass).
- Repairs on subway.
No plans for station concourse, entrance refurbishment/extension.
As we already urged Lord Adonis to better use the funding for providing a more ambitious vision on the future of the station, I was told that:
- they were presented with reports (from South West Train?) from passenger demands for better platforms
- extending canopies will avoid people packing at the same points under adverse weather conditions and therefore will improve train usage
- NR has a mission to focus on train users and passenger needs, not residents. Therefore they shouldn’t be the prime initiator for CJ station regeneration.
I was told that those proposals were supported by South West Train, Southern, TfL and Wandsworth Council (Cllr Lister). You will notice that I asked if the Council thinks that providing waiting rooms and canopy extension (although very welcome) are much more important than refurbishment of Grant Road for example, I was quickly answered: “No, no, that’s not what I said“.
As shown on the picture taken the day of the meeting on platform 10 at Clapham Junction, they are already installing waiting area (probably part of the £2m “cosmetic” improvements). But NR was not aware of anything and surprised when I raised the point.
4- Regeneration of the station and CP5
However, it was repeated several times, there won’t be much allocation for Clapham Junction station in CP5 as it already received a lot currently!!!
NR said they do not see the £5-10m funding provided by Lord Adonis as an emergency funding to make the station – branded second worst in the country – up to a minimum standard. Therefore it might be seen by NR as a welcomed CP5 advance funding and could explain why they now consider that they will concentrate next funding effort on other stations.
It is clear that NR considers that its priority is for passengers, not residents. They said that the local authorities should take their responsibilities if they want to regenerate the area and provide with the necessary funding. Therefore they do not intend to come forward with any plan for making Clapham Junction a better station from the outside.
Of course they welcome any element of survey or consultation that we might present, but our discussion should also involve South West Train, Southern, Tfl, and local authorities. It seems that they won’t ask for any more funding for Clapham Junction station for CP5 if the Council does not come forward with some vision of what could be done and of course a beginning of a funding. After all, even if NR provided the biggest part of Birmingham New Street redevelopment, they were only focusing on the station and it was the local authorities who developed the vision, they added.
Therefore it looks like they put the ball into Wandsworth Borough Council hands now!