Archive for February, 2009

Clapham Junction Street Improvements

Author: Cyril Richert

Road work Lavender Hill-Falcon LaneThe Council has voted the banning of the right turn from Lavender Hill into Falcon Road to be replaced with the introduction of right turn movements from Lavender Hill into Falcon Lane. The decision comes in the hope of easing the congestion at the crossroad between Falcon Road, Lavender Hill and St John’s Hill, beside Clapham Junction station.

According to the planning document (Wandsworth Planning Committee 21 January 2009):

The main traffic elements of the design are:

(a) introduction of a right-turn movement from Lavender Hill into Falcon Lane;
(b) banning of the current right-turn movement from Lavender Hill into Falcon Road, except for buses;
(c) removal of the left-turn slip lane from Falcon Road into Lavender Hill, without banning the left-turn movement from Falcon Road into
Lavender Hill;
(d) a mini-roundabout in Falcon Lane, at the service entrance to ASDA;
(e) widening of footways in St. John’s Road, St. John’s Hill, Lavender Hill and Falcon Road;
(f) new straight across pedestrian crossings or all arms of the Lavender Hill-St. John’s Hill junction, allowing an ‘all-red’ phase when traffic
will stop on all arms and the pedestrian phase will operate;
(g) a diagonal crossing between the Falcon public house and Debenhams store;
(h) relocation of the taxi-rank from the centre of St. John’s Hill to the kerbside;
(i) merging of westbound bus stops in St. John’s Hill, though otherwise bus stop locations are largely unchanged;
(j) removal of a zebra crossing in St. John’s Road; and
(k) two raised junction treatments in St. John’s Road.

The Economic Development Officer comments that these proposals will make Clapham Junction a more attractive and prosperous town centre.

As you can see in (h) they are talking about the relocation of the taxi-rank. Therefore that will occur with or without the Metro Fund’s proposal. That’s what I pointed out in comment 2 here, in response to Brendan (who is involved in helping explain and support the Metro proposals).

Interesting to read on the minutes of the Committee, p3:

(d) authorise the Director of Technical Services to make other amendments to the design and scheme details that may be considered necessary, subject to discussion with the Cabinet Member and local ward members and authorisation under Standing Order No. 83A procedure;

(h) approve the development of a temporary traffic management plan so as to manage traffic during period of construction and to consult with the Cabinet Member and Ward Members on this plan.

Therefore I wanted to have the views of the Councillors of the 3 Wards (Northcote, Shaftesbury and Latchmere) on the temporary traffic management they could envisage, assuming the major disruption that a 3 year construction proposal such as Metro Shopping Fund’s, will create.

I have received answers from the Councillors of the 3 wards:

  • Tony Belton, opposition leader and Latchmere Cllr told me that their concerns (as opposition Cllr) won’t be taken into account by the Council).
  • Cllr Paul Ellis and Cllr James Cousins, Shaftesbury ward, passed the hot potato matter to their colleague Guy Senior who must be on holiday (see UPDATE).
  • Cllr Philip Beddows for Northcote ward sent me a detailed email (unedited):

Dear Cyril,

Cllr Guy Senior as Cabinet Member whose brief covers this, and who is one of the Shaftesbury Councillors, will be better able to respond in full.

However, the roadwork changes are part of the Exemplar Scheme that aims to bring better order to the road system around Clapham Junction, for vehicles and for pedestrians – especially at the junction of Falcon Road/Lavender Hill/St. John’s Road and St. John’s Hill.

The scheme was developed ahead of any proposals for the development of Clapham Junction.

I, and colleagues, and Council Officers have of course been very conscious of what the impact may be of both initiatives occurring at the same time.  But since the timescale of any development of Clapham Junction cannot yet be determined it would have been unwise, perhaps one can even say irresponsible, to have waited on the result of the Metro Fund’s proposals before pushing ahead with the Council’s Exemplar Scheme.

There has been widespread consultation on the Exemplar Scheme and much reporting of it – a Google search will provide a great deal of information on it.

An added issue is the proposed wholescale redevelopment of the Peabody Estate on St John’s Hill, almost opposite Clapham Junction Station.

If all three things were to occur at the same time it could cause chaos – I have raised this in fora where these matters have been discussed.  Transport for London is a key player in agreeing and managing the transport challenges that could arise.  They and the Council would clearly work very closely to reduce the possibility of unavoidable disruption.

So, there must be some initial planning with regard to the Exemplar Scheme, and there must be some thoughts about the added impact of any proposed development at or around Clapham Junction actually starting, but the Exemplar Scheme is the only show in town that has a confirmed performance with curtains ready to be raised.  It would be crazy for us to halt its commencement on the basis of what may or may not happen at Clapham Junction Station – but it would also be unwise of us not to factor that possibility into our future planning, as a ‘what if’ factor.

I am copying this in to Guy Senior so that he may add to, correct or elaborate on what I have said.  In the meantime, I trust that this response is of some help towards answering your query.

Kind regards

UPDATE 4th March: email from Cllr Guy Senior

From : Senior, Guy (Cllr)
To : Cyril Richert
Sent: Monday, 9 March 2009, 2h25mn 53s
Subject: FW: Concerning the road work in Clapham Junction town centre

resending as you do not appear to have received this first time round
From: Senior, Guy (Cllr)
To : Cyril Richert
Sent: 01 March 2009 19:37
Subject: RE: Concerning the road work in Clapham Junction town centre

Thank you for your email.

I think it is important to note that the proposals that you refer to are not related to the planning application and can proceed independently of it.

IF permission is granted for the development, it is the intention to construct it without having any general traffic diversions. However, there would have to be some temporary measures to allow vehicles in and out of the site and relocation of bus stops etc. This is just what happened when the site was last rebuilt in the late 1980s. If any road closures were needed on a temporary basis (e.g. to bring in large loads), then these would need to be agreed with the council. A construction management plan would also have to be agreed relating to such issues as times of work, noise, dust control and the like.

February 28, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Plan for a huge tower beside Battersea Power Station scrapped?

Author: Cyril Richert

According to the Evening Standard today:

Plans to build a giant glass chimney B rising out of an “eco-dome” at Battersea power station have been scrapped.

The chimney would have been one of the tallest structures in London, twice the height of the Gherkin building in the City, and contained a wind turbine.

However, residents, public bodies and the Mayor all objected to the proposal – the central showpiece for the £4billion redevelopment of Giles Gilbert Scott’s Grade II-listed building which has been out of action since 1982.

The developer, Treasury Holdings, and architect, Uruguayan-born Rafael Viñoly, have been forced to go back to the drawing board. It is thought the height of the tower will be reduced to bring it in line with those in Westminster and the dome will be replaced with a series of canopies.

I would rather be a bit careful and not being over enthusiastic. Last time that the developers went back to the drawing board they removed 50 meters, from 300m. And Battersea campaigners told me that everybody knew at that time that it won’t be accepted. So, they might scrapp another 50m… and try again, until everyone is fed-up campaigning against and gives up. Rob Tincknell, managing director of Treasury Holdings, presenting the project to Boris Johnson said previously: “it is either the go-ahead for the glass tower, or the power station may be doomed“. Apparently he has changed his mind and decided to compromise further…

We have previously commented the story in Another case of blackmail in Battersea

February 26, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Boris Johnson’s U-turn

Author: Cyril Richert

Is Boris Johnson betraying those who voted for him and currently approving all schemes comprising huge towers? That’s what Simon Jenkins is writing in his letter to the Evening Standard, published on 24th February.

Johnson was apparently against these towers being “pepper-potted” across London. He was supported in this approach by the former leader of Westminster council, Sir Simon Milton, now his planning chief. He even encouraged the Standard to list the developments that would be doomed under his regime.

In petto: the article that the ES was encouraged to publish by Johnson, according to Jenkins, is called: The towers that Boris could stop being built (May 2008)

Within a year of arriving in his office, Johnson has not only allowed the South Bank tower and wall of glass but has decided to let through a 25-storey tower by Lord Foster in an Ealing conservation area, another 42-storey job in Wandsworth and the Beetham tower in Blackfriars, expected to rise to the height of Canary Wharf. A truly colossal structure is now proposed for Battersea, which will loom over views as far away as Hyde Park,

There appears to be no curb, other than the depth of the property recession, on builders coming forward with towers wherever in London takes their fancy. If Ealing and Wandsworth are considered appropriate it is hard to imagine where is not. All an architect has to do is suggest a truly ridiculous height and then “concede” a few storeys to get permission.

As we have already commented here, last November, the Mayor’s office issued a planning report to Wandsworth Council giving a barely qualified green light to the Clapham Junction Scheme. The Mayor approved the design of the towers finding them “attractive city elements contributing positively to the London skyline (since then, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe) said that the buildings would appear “ungainly in medium and long range views of the buildings and unsettling when experienced up close” and the station entrance was also “under-played” architecturally). We were astonished by the comments, coming from the man who, before his election, vowed to put a stop to Ken’s ‘phallocratic towers’ and claimed that the previous Mayor was intent on ‘wrecking London’s skyline’.

A complete U-turn indeed

According to Michael Ball, Waterloo Community Development Group, he specifically promised to stop seven separate towers during his campaign, but has failed in every one and now actively supports three.

No wonder why a lot of people in Battersea feel betrayed (including Simon Jenkins apparently): residents are clearly opposed to tall buildings “pepper-potted” across London (you can see a record of objections for the Wandsworth’s schemes) and it seems we live in extraordinary times when it takes a government minister rather than the Mayor for London to insist that national planning guidelines should be adhered to.

Section 106

One of the reason (maybe the main one) why local and central government are so accommodating to developers is not specifically a tendency for skyscrapers and high buildings, but the rack-off from development profits they can get. This is called section 106 agreement and means basically that in exchange of building whatever they want, they will pay for some Council’s duty (roadwork, affordable houses, etc). No wonder to see that after the Communities Secretary called for an inquiry into the Ram Brewery redevelopment voted by the Council in December. Edward Lister, leader of Wandsworth Council was so infuriated: all his plan for the one way system in Wandsworth Town to be redesigned and delivered free of cost for the Council by the developers is put in limbo.

February 26, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Ram Brewery development stopped by Government

Author: Cyril Richert

According to an article published in the Evening Standard tonight, Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, called for an inquiry into the Ram Brewery redevelopment voted by the Council in December. As we presented the consequences in a previous article, the main brewery site will be marked  by a pair of 32 and 42-storey residential tower blocks (up to 145m  or 475ft). The Planning Application committee voted by 9 votes to 2 in favour of the scheme.

The Evening Standard wrote:

When outlining her latest decision, Ms Blears said “she ought to decide herself because she considers the proposals may conflict with national policies on important matters”.

These include building heights, landscaping, hazardous installations (the site contains gas holders) and affordable housing.

The Wandsworth application submitted by developer Minerva will now have to be considered at a public inquiry, with the final decision resting with her.

The plans, which include 11 towers, including one of 42 and another of 32 storeys, had been nodded through by Wandsworth council in December.

The letter in which Ms Blears spells out her reasons for calling in the development says her intervention was attacked by Wandsworth council leader Edward Lister. He said: “It’s unbelievable that in the depths of a recession we have a Government that would put at risk £1billion of investment in a suburban town centre.

“The Ram Brewery development would have been the catalyst for the wider regeneration of Wandsworth town centre. It would have created 1,000 new homes, 400 new jobs and helped solve the traffic problems in a problematic one-way system.”


Wandsworth’s planning applications chair Leslie McDonnell said: “This is an ambitious scheme that has the potential to transform the town centre.”

Mr Johnson supported the tower which, he said, met his requirements for the highest-quality design, and the traffic improvements.

But Ms Blears said the application raised issues that went beyond the locality and had to be debated on the basis of national planning policies. Mr Lister said this was a waste of time and put the entire enterprise at risk.

“The council set three main tests for the development, and the answer was yes on all counts”, he said. “The scheme is backed by the Wandsworth Town Centre Partnership, which described it ‘pivotal’ to their vision for the area.

“It was also backed by the Mayor who said the tall buildings met his requirements for the highest quality design and confirmed that were no another means of funding the transport improvements needed.” Deputy mayor for policy and planning, Simon Milton, said: “The Mayor supports the Wandsworth proposal because of the major improvements it would bring. This decision by Ms Blears will delay crucial development in this period of downturn that will be damaging for London’s future prosperity.” However, he did not want to comment on the wider issue.

Other proposals which could also be called in include the Victoria transport interchange and the Heart of Battersea development.

You can also read our article about what the Mayor Office said on the Clapham Junction redevelopment proposal and his claim against tall building during his campaign.

February 20, 2009 at 7:22 pm 4 comments

NORTHCOTE WARD E-bulletin February 2009

Author: Cyril Richert

I received today the newsletter from the  Councillors of Northcote ward:

NORTHCOTE WARD E-bulletin February 2009

Welcome to our latest bulletin with reports on local issues including the extension of the East London Line, Heathrow expansion, the Clapham Junction planning application, the Bolingbroke Hospital and details of the next Safer Neighbourhood Team meeting. Please forward the bulletin to friends and neighbours in the area.

Philip Beddows, Peter Dawson and Martin Johnson

Councillors, Northcote Ward, Battersea,

Wandsworth Borough Council.


Among all the issues I will quote three, relating to topics on this website (and will link to our articles in bold brown, for your reference):

The East London Line – Good News for Clapham Junction

Boris Johnson and Geoff Hoon came to Clapham Junction last week to announce the go-ahead for the East London Line extension. Really good news for Northcote ward residents that follows a lengthy campaign by the Council and local Conservatives to secure funding for the connection.

On the Council website: Clapham Junction wins East London Line connection

Jane Ellison, Battersea’s Conservative Parliamentary candidate, was there to discuss the proposals with Boris Johnson

Read our article about the East London extension here.

Northcote Road – Shop Locally

The Northcote Business Network launched a new website in December last year

Use it to check out what is happening along Northcote Road .

Read our article about business in CJ here.

Clapham Junction Battersea – Planning Application

Thank you to everyone who has let us know their views about this planning application – it is probably the most important to affect Northcote Ward in a generation. If you have not yet submitted your views to the Council’s Planning department please do so as soon as possible.

All three Northcote councillors spoke at last month’s public meeting organised by the Clapham Junction action group – see reports posted (17th February and 29th January) on the action group’s website At the meeting we explained that we continue to ask questions about a number of key aspects of the scheme including the impact of two 42 storey towers on the surrounding area much of which is designated a Conservation area; the real nature of the station and platform improvements and Network Rail’s plans; the need for a proper transport interchange including bus facilities; the implications for air pollution in the area and the mix of the proposed development with its focus on small flats and retail outlets with the loss of other employment opportunities.

Jane Ellison, Battersea’s Conservative Parliamentary candidate, has issued a Residents’ News opposing this application – go to and scroll to Latest Campaign – Britain’s Busiest Station Deserves Better.

Details of the proposal are available on the developers, Metro Shopping Fund, website Go to Latest News to see their current leaflet (the beat 03).

Full details of the applications and comments submitted so far can be seen on the Council’s Planning website search the planning register and enter application number 2008/4488.

The following links will take you to a recent exchange of letters between the Council’s Planning Department and Network Rail, both are posted on the Planning website – they are well worth reading.

Letter from Wandsworth Planning Department to Network Rail

Response from Network Rail dated 30th January 2009

The following link will take you to a letter that the Council’s Planning Department sent to the developers last month. We understand they are preparing a comprehensive response.

Letter from Wandsworth Planning Department to the applicants

Whatever your own views send your comments, including your postal address, to Mark Hunter at

Copies should be sent to

1. Cllr Leslie McDonnell, Chairman of the Planning Applications Committee, with a request to circulate your views to members of the committee –
2. Cllr Edward Lister, Council Leader –
3. Your Northcote ward councillors Philip Beddows – ; Peter Dawson –
and Martin Johnson –

As we said at the public meeting we will ensure that the views of Northcote residents are properly represented when the application is discussed at the Planning Committee and at any full Council meeting so please do let us know what you think of this application.

Read our report on the meeting here and watch the videos there. See our analysis on the letter sent by Wandsworth Council press officer: Planning Decision Deferred Again! Our comment about Jane Ellison’s statement is here.

February 20, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Clapham Junction station to welcome the East London line in 2012

Author: Cyril Richert

East London Line Extension - mapAfter years of campaigning (see The Bugle, Feb 2009 with Martin Linton’s long stand), projects and postponing, the London Mayor and the Government eventually agreed on the funding for the go ahead of the phase 2 of the East London Line extension, running from Clapham Junction to Docklands (click on map on the left to see it bigger). Work on phase 1 (link between Highbury and Croydon) is due to open next year. Work on phase 2 will begin in 3 months and is due to finish in May 2012 (i.e. before the 2012 Olympics).

This is a great news for all residents of South London.

However, not wanting to sound too negative in the over-joyed atmosphere, I cannot prevent myself to wonder about the cost of this project (£75 millions, with £30 millions split between TfL and the GLA), compared to the £1.2 billion spent for phase 1 (and compared to the £3.5 billion project of the Jubilee Line extension). In phase 2 of the extension project, only a 2.5 km (1.5 mi) link is planned from south of Surrey Quays to the Network Rail South London Line to Clapham Junction. The rest of the route will be on a disused alignment which until 1911 was used by trains from Rotherhithe to Peckham via the now defunct Old Kent Road station. In the current scheme, trains are meant to pass very close to Brixton Tube station, but not stopping as they will use the old rails and no investment is planned to link with the Victoria line!

Additionally, according to TfL’s website, by February 2011, 16 trains will run every hour in each direction through the centre section. In The Bugle, I read that only 4 trains an hour will go from Platform 2 (they will arrive on Platform 1). There are trains every few minutes from Clapham Junction to Waterloo or Victoria stations currently…

Anyway, it will undoubtedly means more investment South of the River, especially in Clapham Junction. Transport Secretary Mr Hoon said: “I am pleased to announce an additional £64 million for TfL which will allow them to press ahead with the further extension of the East London Line to Clapham Junction and deliver a number of other transport improvements in London“. Principal director of the South-east London Chamber of Commerce Stephen Nelson, said: “This will encourage investment in local business.”

Currently, Metro Shopping Fund is proposing a destruction of hundreds of jobs in the area and Network Rail is suggesting that “with the limited funds that are available to the railway industry there is no guarantee that Clapham Junction will be anymore successful [to get funding in the future]. We therefore need the Metro scheme to deliver the major improvements to the station ” (in letter addressed to the Council).

Shall we think that Wandsworth and Britain’s busiest station  are not a priority for London authorities and therefore are not worth any proper investment?

And by the way, do you think that we need, as a top priority, 500 more flats in high tower blocks just beside the station, or take advantage of the privileged location to welcome businesses?

February 19, 2009 at 12:08 pm 12 comments

Metro published a leaflet: some misrepresentation and misleading falsehood

Author: Cyril Richert

The day of our Public Meeting that they refused to attend, Metro Shopping Fund (the joint venture between Delancey and Land Securities)  distributed a leaflet on their proposal, answering some questions. You can read the PDF version here.

We welcome the initiative to communicate on the planning, although we found some gross misleading all along the document. We thought it was worth commenting (in brown) some extracts (in green) of the brochure bellow (for full quote and page number, please refer to the PDF document above).

Brochure page 1:

A) “Metro Shopping Fund’s redevelopment plans for Clapham Junction will deliver major improvements to the station that will enhance the passenger experience dramatically. […] A new 707m2 ticket hall and entrance in the Victorian Brighton Buildings on St John’s Hill, which will incorporate new lifts ans escalators.”

B) “These improvements facilitate a substantial increase in capacity and help relieve congestion by re-organising the way in which passenger access the platforms. […] this would reduce traffic in the subway, which would be used primarily for passengers changing platforms.”

C) “The proposed Clapham Junction redevelopment will also provide the land required to straighten and lengthen platforms 14 to 17 […] making boarding easier”


A) With this, the developers are associated the lifts to their improvement efforts. This is a false representation;  in reality the lifts are currently put in place on Brighton Yard entrance (opening at the end of the year) and their cost of about £9 millions is paid by the government (as Martin Linton said: “contractors are installing 9 lifts at Clapham Junction station as part of the Government’s £370 million Access fo All scheme. The Brighton Yard entrance at the top of St John’s Hill will be re-opened with a ticket office to provide direct access to the overbridge and the lifts“).

B) Actually the truth is that by the end of the year, we will have 3 entrances to CJ station: a main one in St John’s Hill, Brighton Yard and Grand Road. The developers plan is proposing to close the main one. Therefore I find it difficult to imagine how it can make things easier for passengers. In addition, experience in Redhill shows that closing the entrance to the under-path to use the over-bridge only was a mistake and they are reversing to original now.

C) Misrepresentation again as the straightening and lengthening of the platforms are part of Network Rail Strategic Plan since 2006… nothing to do with Metro Shopping Fund.

Brochure page 2:

A) “Why does the development need to have two tall buildings? To pay for the major station improvements the plan needs to generate a significant amount of funding”

B) “Why does Network Rail need to involve a developer to improve the station? […] This way a higher number of stations can be refurbished helping to bring wider benefits to local communities such as homes, shops and jobs and ensure the tax payers’ money is invested wisely.”

C) “I live to the east of the station. How much further will I have to walk to get to the new entrance? […] you will only need to walk an additional 44 meters.


A) As a local resident recently emailed me: “Clapham Junction station definitely needs serious improvements, and the reasons for this have been well rehearsed. However, it must surely be the responsibility of Network Rail to carry out these improvements. We have a major London station here, and it is a disgrace that we should rely on a trade-off with private developers to provide what should be expected as a matter of course from the rail network company. It is incumbent on Wandsworth Council to work with the Company to ensure that the upgrade of the station is carried out to a standard befitting one of the most important transport hubs in the country. Spending time, money and energy on considering the building of two tower blocks is not the way to deal with improving our station. ” I could not say it better.

B) As we wrote back in November, the present proposals are nothing more than an opportunity for Network Rail to save money by joining forces with a commercial developer whose sole interest is to maximise the retail and letting potential of the site to the detriment of the local community and rail passengers.

This is written in black and white in the Network Rail Strategic Business Plan October 2007:

P157: We are also exploring opportunities with private-partner investors to develop significant station improvements at the following stations:
• Victoria;
• […]
Clapham Junction.

During our Public Meeting in January (which Delancey refused to participate to, saying that “public meeting forums are not the best way to discuss elements of the scheme“), Cllr Philip Beddows talked about the necessity to have “somewhere where you actually love to be and can be proud of, rather than an environment that can be replicated anywhere […] we need to consider the legacy that the decision will leave on the people who will be living here beyond us“. I don’t think he was suggesting that the current proposal was a greater benefit for the community and that all wise taxpayers are NIMBY.

C) Er, what about the the increased walking distance across the over-bridge compared with the shorter distances along the tunnel?

Brochure page 3:

A) “Are you going to do anything to improve the bus stops at Clapham Junction? […] We are working with Transport for London and Wandsworth Council to try and find a way of improving the organisation of the bus stops.”

B) “How many new jobs will be created by the new development? The new development will create around 515 jobs.”

C) “Why must Clapham Junction station be improved? Clapham Junction is Britain’s busiest railway station. […] Metro Shopping Fund’s investment at Clapham Junction is vital, otherwise these improvements will not be delivered for the foreseeable future.


A) Mark Hunter, the Council’s Planning Officer, highlighted in his letter to the developer that there was actually no consideration given to the station’s position as a major rail/bus interchange. Longer walking distances to the bus stops on Falcon Road and insufficient capacity around the bus stops for people waiting. Is it what metro called “working with TfL and the Council?

B) What about the loss of 241 full time jobs at PCS? The destruction of the existing bars and shops on the way from the Falcon to the Brighton building? The existing jobs in Shopstop? That might well be about 500 job destroyed…

C) We cannot disagree on that. CJ needs a redevelopment, definitely. But as we explained here, the best way to get the station improved is to refuse the planning permission.

Brochure page 4:

A) “Has the Metro Shopping Fund conducted any consultation on its plans for Clapham Junction? In order to understand your views and to gain input to the project, Metro conducted a comprehensive consultation […] the feedback we received was very positive – with overwhelming support for the proposed station improvements (80% plus) and strong support for the residential buildings (70% plus).”

B) “How can we get to see what the tall buildings will look like? We have published in this leaflet some views…”

C) “How will the proposals boost the existing town centre? Clapham Junction town centre has suffered decline in recent years with local people going elsewhere to do their shopping.”


A) Question here is simple: is Metro Shopping Fund lying, do they hide their head in a hole or do they just ask the relatives of their shareholders their opinions? Truth is that there is actually an overwhelming support against their proposal, as shown here. In addition, do I need to remind you – again – that they refused to participate on the platform to our Public Meeting, on the basis that “public meeting forums are not the best way to discuss elements of the scheme“?

B) On the proposal, cost of the skyscrapers vs the station improvements is about 70% vs 30%. However, in the “newsletter” you will count 5-6 photos of the proposed new station, and only 3-4 photos of the towers (none of them showing the full scale). Is Metro still ashamed of their mis-representation to the point of threatening us when we tried to show an impression of the buildings? No worries, I will help them here, by displaying their scale model:

Scale model of the twin towers at Clapham Junction 2 Scale model of the twin towers at Clapham Junction

C) Really? How do they know that while in a listener poll conducted by Radio 4’s Today programme in conjunction with CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment), Northcote Road was voted London’s second favourite shopping street? See

Last but not least, a few local residents sent us comments to the leaflet they received and agreed to be published here :

From: Gareth Davies

Dear Mr Hunter

I today received yet another misleading pamphlet through my door trying to garner support for the monstrous twin tower block proposal for Clapham Junction.

I am extremely disturbed at the misleading way the pictures in this pamphlet have been rendered. It is clear to me that they do not show the true nature of the proposed buildings and I’m very fearful that the pamphlets will persuade people to support the application and be horrified when they see how it genuinely turns out.

I fully support the idea of regeneration of Clapham Junction, but we MUST reject this proposal and find an alternative that will not ruin Clapham Junction’s character forever.

Please reject the proposal urgently so we can work towards something more constructive and more aesthetically appropriate!

Many thanks

Dr Gareth Davies

Another email sent to planning application:

From: Joanna Maude

Dear Mr Hunter

I have already written to you once before about the proposed redevelopment around Clapham Junction and understand that there are much needed access and accessibility issues around the station which have been over due for years, but this being tied in with the development of two 42 story tower blocks is inappropriate.

* The blocks do not appear to offer any sustainable housing
* The flats are not appropriate for families
* The flats do not add to the local community as they are
* The development will add more shop spaces when there are already vacant shops in St Johns Road and Northolt Road
* The additional residents will only cause additional overcrowding on the already overcrowded transport system

I work in the creative industries and have an interest in the build environment, and do not have a problem with modern buildings but they need to be suited to their local and other properties/buildings in the vicinity, plus the surrounding landscape. These are an eyesore in the local area in terms of complimenting the existing building, disregarding their height which again does not fit with the other buildings.

I attended a public meeting on Wednesday 28 January which was interesting and informative and it was great that there were some local councillors in the audience. The following day I received some material through my later box from Delancey/Land Securities promoting the development and requesting residents to agree to it, the material was very misleading, both in terms of the image and content.

Yours sincerely

Joanna Maude

And a last example:

From : Penelope Cranford

February 9, 2009

Dear Sir,

I am writing with regard to the planning application for the Metro Shopping Fund development at Clapham Junction.

There seems to me to be three clear, separate issues to this proposal: the up-grading of Clapham Junction station; the two 42 storey skyscraper buildings and the shopping and general improvement of the Clapham Junction area. Somehow, perhaps because of the funding of this development, they have been presented to us, the residents, as interdependent. Certainly, there can be no dispute that Clapham Junction station is in urgent need of improvement but does that mean, therefore, that the developers can ask and draw-up plans for a scheme, that would appear to go against all the guidelines to town centre planning? Furthermore, that the planning officers have allowed, and may even recommend, a development of this scale purely to precipitate the station up-grade. In the current issue of your Brightside magazine, Guy Senior, commenting on the improvements proposed for Earlsfield station says: “We’ve got to keep the pressure on Network Rail to deliver these improvements”. I’m sure Earlsfield, along with many other stations in the Borough – Battersea Park Road, for example – are all deserving of an up-grade but none carry the volume of commuters that Clapham Junction does. What pressure is being applied to Network Rail on behalf of Clapham Junction and shouldn’t it take precedence?

The two skyscrapers will stand so far above the existing buildings in the area and totally dominate the skyline. There is no green space, or open space at the Junction. It is just that. A major traffic junction: 240 buses an hour, I read, pass through, plus cars, taxis and people on the pavements. It is over congested now and the sheer density of this scheme: 1,000 people, 290 car parking spaces in an area already bursting will make it worse. Why? A few hundred yards up St. John’s Hill the old Gala bingo hall is being developed for housing; opposite there is an infill block of flats and opposite that the old pub site is also being developed. Then of course further up the road there is the newly approved Ram Brewery development of 1,000 new homes. Is there really the demand for all these apartments? Families with young children will not want to live 42 stories up overlooking the country’s busiest train station and young single people will not be able to afford them?

What also of the regard for the surrounding buildings? The architect talks of the Grand theatre opposite the station, there is the listed Falcon pub and Debenhams store on the opposite corner. All buildings of period architecture and completely at odds with the proposed shiny huge towers.

Shopping at Clapham Junction has been in decline in recent years, the developers say. As the council has always been keen to promote the Arndale centre to the detriment of Clapham Junction, is that surprising. The Northcote road thrives as does Battersea Rise with all the restaurants. Now with Waitrose and other new shops opening, St John’s Road is slowly improving. Why then, for example, does the Council permit another betting shop to open on Lavender Hill when there are already two others in the immediate area?

It is difficult to understand, given the weight of all these arguments, that this scheme should be given the go-ahead to be developed or even have been considered in the first place. I would welcome your comments.

Yours sincerely,

Penelope Cranford

February 17, 2009 at 9:39 pm 4 comments

Another redevelopment in Clapham Junction

Author: Cyril Richert

The Wessex House, which welcomed our Public Meeting on the 28th of January, is planning a complete redevelopment. A scale model was displayed in the hall the day of the meeting. You can also check the presentation leaflet here, with plans for inside there.

The new development includes a night-club, a restaurant and a spa. Above you will have 12 residential flats, from 1 to 3 bedrooms. The façade is a modern timber system, therefore a bit different from the old red brick buildings surrounding. You will find also additional information on the architect’s website

Wessex House redevelopment vue 1 Wessex House redevelopment vue 2

I read on the website: “A new application was submitted on in may 2004, which was subsequently refused in July 2004. It was refused on the grounds that the proposed building would constitute an over-development of the site, by reason of its height and design failing to enhance or preserve the appearance of the conservation area“. After talking to the architect, it appears that the Council thought it was 1 storey too much! Regarding the Clapham Junction proposal of 2 towers of 42 stories that is currently being considered, don’t you think there is some irony?

Tower aboveFalcon

Do you think it would be appropriate to have this in front?

February 17, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Public Meeting: the videos

Author: Cyril Richert

On the 28th of January, we organised a Public Meeting, with the help of the Battersea Society, in order to talk about the Clapham Junction redevelopment proposal submitted by Metro Shopping Fund. I already told here that several people were invited to the platform to speak and explain their views, including the developers, but they declined to come (Delancey said that “public meeting forums are not the best way to discuss elements of the scheme“!). However we had a fantastic audience, 3 great speakers with Tony Tuck, Kate Williams and Martin Linton and I already reported about the meeting at the end of January here.

Now (after a few issues) you will be able to watch again those great moments of local democracy in action with the entire video of the meeting published below. If you missed it, this is the occasion for you to catch up and have a taste of the event. If you have friends interested but did not have the chance to attend, feel free to forward the link.

Public meeting Part 1: Introduction

More information about speakers and invitations here.

Public meeting Part 2: Speaker = Tony Tuck, chairman of the Battersea Society

Public meeting Part 3: Speaker = Kate Williams, one of the founders of the Clapham Junction Action Group

If you want more details about the number of representations received by the council and the issue with certain support messages, read here.

Public meeting Part 4: Speaker = Martin Linton, MP for Battersea

Public meeting Part 5: Questions/Statements from the public

The first speaker from the floor is Shirley Passmore, from the Wandsworth Society. She underlined the failure of the campaign against the Ram Brewery development due to the poor involvement of the local residents and that “it does really matter to get all of you to write“.

Not intending to make any publicity (we are not related), I am just linking for those interested by the topic raised. At 4:23, the book the lady is talking about is called London Heritage Pubs, An inside story (Jane Jephcote is co-writer) and you will find details of the The Windsor Castle, which is subject to demolition in the development proposal.

There was a comment about the Battersea Power Station scheme. You can find our article about the planning proposal here.

At the end of this video, the Councillor talking is Tony Belton, Councillor for Latchmere ward, leader of the opposition Labour Group and member of the Planning Applications Committee. Answering to a question from the public, he confirmed that “the number does not matter (as even 1 objection should be considered) but clearly if there are 500 objections, that is considered with greater weight. So the more people who write in, the better” and he advised to write to the Chairman of the committee, Councillor Leslie McDonnell, or to the Secretary of the Planning Committee, Martin Newton, asking that the letter be circulated amongst the members (he added that he thinks this is more powerful than the objections on the Council’s website). He also highlighted the number of Putney locals attending the Planning Committee meeting, the day of the decision, and said “it is actually quite difficult to do something unpopular when surrounded by 100 people who don’t like what you are doing. It’s much easier to do something like that if you are surrounded, as you were in the Ram Brewery case, by 20 or 10 people.”

So for those who have not written yet, it is still time to do it. Information about where and who to write to (and copy as many people as possible) are on our website here.

All three of the Councillors of Northcote ward added their comments.

Martin D. Johnson (also a member of the Planning Applications Committee) told us that the Borough planner was still waiting for some very important information from the developers before they can start writing their report and their recommendations (we will publish a full article on that), therefore the date of March, 12th for the meeting was the earliest (indeed we have heard since then that it was not going to happen before April, maybe even later). He was also questioning whether these towers are the right way of securing improvements for the station. Although he highlighted that the planning is not just about the towers and hope that when people write about the application, they include comments on other issues, as “there is not point for the Council to turn down this scheme only to face a similar one only a little bit smaller” (job losses, such as PCS, lack of affordable housing, station facilities and, especially with the current economic time, whether it is sensible to have more shops when you have still empty units in Northcote road and around).

Philip Beddows talked about the environment, the necessity to have “somewhere where you actually love to be and can be proud of, rather than an environment that can be replicated anywhere” (he mentioned that he co-chair with Tony Belton a campaign called “SW11 tch Back to Battersea”). He rightly said that the decision from the Planning committee is going to affect the long term of Battersea and “we need to consider the legacy that the decision will leave on the people who will be leaving here beyond us“. He also talked about buses and car parking and said that such a development should not even have 1 car space as it is already congested. Eventually he suggested to have a look to the work of Peter Deakins displayed on the other side of the room.

and Peter Dawson made a point about their call for people to write to the Council and let them know their view on the different issues of the proposal. He suggested that people “do look at the decision about the refusal of the towers in Putney. It makes very interesting reading; it uses planning words; it uses planning terminology“.

Special mention to Councillor  Paul Ellis (Shaftesbury ward), as apparently he did not notice my statement regarding Shaftesbury ward  and wrote to me. Right at the beginning of the video above, I say: “For the last 4 months of the campaign, I emailed several times the Councillors and I’ve never had any answer from the 3 councillors of Shaftesbury. However, the councillors of Northcote road have been quite responsive.

Public meeting Part 6: Conclusion

Again, big thanks to everybody attending.

February 17, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Planning Decision Deferred Again!

Author: Kate Williams

You might think things have been pretty quiet on the site of late. And you would be right!

The reason has been continued confusion over the date of the planning committee meeting to consider Metro Shopping Fund’s application (MSF), which it now seems will not be considered on 12th March 2009 after all. In fact, we have been told it is unlikely that it will be considered in April either.

Although we still don’t know the reason for the latest deferral, we are willing to speculate that the developers need more time to respond to a substantial letter from Mark Hunter, the Council’s Planning Officer sent on 23rd January 2009, raising concerns about a large number of aspects of the Scheme. Many of these have clearly been generated by your letters – a welcome demonstration of the impact of local democracy in this process.

Key aspects of the Planning Officer’s letter include:

  • Value of Station Improvements: MSF to explain why a substantial part of the £39.5 million set aside for ‘improvements’ to the station is being diverted to costs which the Scheme would generate in any event. These include the purchase cost of  Windsor Castle pub, the provision of a temporary station, and the ‘debateable’ question of the land swap being proposed with Network Rail to enable them to press ahead with their straightening of platforms 15-17. “I would appreciate if you could provide an additional breakdown of the station improvements and other proposals in the £39.5 million package in a user friendly way that could be easily understood by the public, given that the issue of clarity has been raised by a number of objectors.
  • Transparency of Network Rail’s role:Without further information being provided by Network Rail, it may be difficult to progress the application in a positive way, if a compelling case cannot be made for the provision of railway facilities, over other public benefits, including other transport benefits, given the direct relation of those facilities to the very substantial quantum of development and the local impact proposed here.
  • Lack of Affordable Housing: Questions regarding the non-viability of affordable housing within the scheme. “I consider that this is a significant issue concerning one of our primary policy considerations that requires a robust response.
  • Viability of the Scheme in the Current Economic Climate: The Council’s Valuation Office has concluded that the scheme would be unlikely to start in the near future, and given the length of the build programme would be delivered in an uncertain economic climate. MSF are required to provide a revised viability scheme to include transparent costing.
  • Design of the ‘tall buildings’: The Council has concerns as to the overall design of the two towers acknowledging that they will be highly visible in short and long distance views. Reference is also made to the considerable opposition of local residents in this regard. MSF to address comments made by CABE, English Heritage and the Mayor of London and to address concerns in a face to face meeting with the Council’s Planning Department.
  • Detailed design: MSF to address concerns regarding wind tunnelling and over-shadowing. Further work to be carried out on the proposed line of the shopping centre towards the egress onto Falcon Road.
  • Station congestion: Concern at the reduction in number of station entrances from three/four to two/ Concern also at the fact that MSF’s studies only show walking distances being increased from the old entrances to the new ones, and do not take into account the increased walking distance across the over-bridge compared with the shorter distances along the tunnel.
  • Lack of provision for an integrated bus interchange: No consideration given to the station’s position as a major rail/bus interchange. Longer walking distances to the bus stops on Falcon Road and insufficient capacity around the bus stops for people waiting.
  • Traffic: MSF’s claims that the development would generate less traffic by the loss of office space is ‘implausible’ given the number of flats being proposed and significant increase in retail space. Numerous questions raised as to MSF’s assumptions in predicting both car-based movements and the impact on public transport of people visiting the new retail centre and flats.
  • Need for further consultation: Mr Hunter acknowledges the campaign for additional consultation including the provision of scale models at the station and requests MSF to consider whether they would like to be involved in such an exercise!

The Council is calling for a major rethink of the Scheme and for a great deal of additional information to be provided. We are not celebrating yet though. The chances are that the developers will come back with a revised scheme in the near future and there is every chance that skyscrapers will remain a key feature of it.

Whilst attention to many controversial aspects of the scheme (including proposals relating to the station, increased traffic, and design) are to be greatly welcomed, local residents will not rest easily until the Council is forced to reconsider its invitation to developers to propose tall buildings on the site.

Many letters of objection from residents have pointed out that the site of the station could be developed by rafting over the tracks, with no need for tall buildings. Many others have pointed out that the fact that Clapham Junction attracts 22 million passengers a year should be reason enough for Network Rail to redevelop the site as a railway station that we can be proud of.

Tell the Council what you think and let’s continue this debate until we get what we want for the station – not some half-baked oppressive scheme more suited to Canary Wharf than Clapham Junction.

In the meantime, we can but hope that these continued delays will not prevent the other considerable improvements to the area which are already in the pipeline from going ahead. These include SW Trains plan to provide a third step free access to the station from Brighton Yard which should help to alleviate congestion substantially, together with the Council’s own Exemplar Scheme which will improve the pedestrian environment around the Junction, including a one way system around Falcon Lane, improved pedestrian crossings and clutter free footpaths.

On behalf of CJAG, a round of applause to Mr Hunter and the Council’s Planning Department, and half of a hip-hip hooray.

February 17, 2009 at 12:33 am 2 comments

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