Archive for May, 2009

Hotel in Clapham Junction – why we object

Author: Cyril Richert

A new hotel has been proposed at the bottom of Mossbury Road, 155 Falcon Road (in front of PCS). We have already published an article detailing the planning application and the reason given by the developers/architect. We have also published pictures of the proposed scheme.

In the view of the proposal, we have to study two main aspects:

  1. Is the scheme an opportunity for the vicinity; and is it going to enhance Clapham Junction? (Is a 16 storey tower block the ideal development of the town centre? Is it the type of architecture that residents wish for their town centre?)
  2. And is it going to create benefits and lead for future other redevelopments of Clapham Junction?

A development that will fit within the vicinity?

In the recent months, the Clapham Junction Action Group has succeeded in raising the level of awareness the local inhabitants on the development of Clapham Junction town centre. During the campaign against the station redevelopment including two massive tower blocks of 42 stories, hundreds of people have shown that they are opposed not only to Metro’s proposals, but to any proposal which substantially changes the character of the area from that of predominantly low-rise. A large part of these objections can also apply to the hotel scheme:

  • The proposed site is very compact and lies at the bottom of an area of homogeneous Victorian and Edwardian low rise houses.
  • Any development proposed to take its place should respect the historical and architectural homogeneity of its neighbouring buildings and not repeat the mistakes of the past: The Arding and Hobbs building is the focus for the Lavender Hill and Falcon Road junction and a landmark for the area. To have a building which towers well-over this building would be detrimental to the character of Clapham Junction.
  • All of the exiting tall buildings lie to the North of the train tracks with none to the South. The 16 storey tower block will immediately become by far the tallest building this side of the rail track.
  • The existing towers, mainly estates from the 60-70’s, are in any event loved by no-one and, to quote a very many e-mails and letters to the Council in the recent months, are examples of what should not be repeated in the area.

Clapham Junction redevelopment - Initial proposal with 3 towersLast but not least, and probably the most important of all, you must consider the consequences of such a precedent. By allowing a 16 storey tower blocks, an unprecedented tall building in CJ town centre, you implicitly give full way  for a new application to 2 or 3 tower blocks of 20-25 stories on Clapham Junction station. Some will actually remember that this was the initial plan for the station redevelopment (image on the left).

Clapham Jucntion: a tall future?

An opportunity for Clapham Junction?

David Rosemont was commenting on this website (8 May):

The location of the proposed hotel offers connections with public transport unequalled in any other existing or proposed hotel in the area. In addition the hotel is designed to be at the more affordable end of the market. Informed opinion is that this is the right product on the right site.

In other words, this will be a cheap hotel for people looking for an affordable way of commuting to central London, with the station just hundred yards away. The scheme is not focus on Battersea or Clapham Junction vicinity and will not provide any support for the regeneration of this part of Clapham Junction, despite the claim from the developers.

In addition, little consideration has been given to the noise and disturbance in parking caused by a 132 room hotel.  Not only the hotel will operate 24 hours a day, which will be a huge change from the current daily office occupied by a solicitor, but  there will be potential noise from the delivery vans, servicing, etc. With the current levels of traffic along Falcon Road, it will automatically increase traffic all along the road (Mossbury is a one way street) and create additional pressure on the limited parking.

An extensive consultation?

The developers have claimed that they organised an extensive consultation before they submitted their application. David Rosemont commented on this website:

See my comments on the http://www.loveclapham.com website regarding the extensive consultation that has already taken place on the hotel project since November 2007, including a public presentation to the Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership and two exhibition days in April 2008. […] This commenced with the public presentation of the first draft project at the Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership in November 2007. Such meetings are advertised by the Council and are attended by a full range of local residents, businesses, organisations etc.

I live in Mossbury Road, and did not receive any specific information in the past year. However, as I might have just missed it, I personally asked several residents of the street. In all cases, it appears that the only thing was an exhibition on the ground floor of the building (Woburn House) last year, before the solicitors moved in, advertised by a poster on the window. In addition, I was told that a consultation was organised at the Town Hall, advertised by personal invitation sent to the existing Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership members. It is therefore very, very far from a full consultation. The only recent information I received was the New Hotel Proposal brochure (that I scanned and make available here), apparently distributed on behalf of the developers, and the official planning application letter sent to the Council (see here). It gives 2 weeks (and a bank holiday weekend) to submit comments and study the proposal. The application might come before the Committee as soon as 25 June 2009!

In addition, David Rosemont said:

The commentators on this website consistently miss the point that the core strategy document was adopted by elected members of the council after extensive public consultation with members of the public, including local groups. […] The policy that the Council adopted, after extensive public consultation, included the possibility of taller buildings, subject always to many other considerations too. Those consultations included public meetings which happen on a regular basis and are advertised.

This statement seems to imply that constituents were widely consulted in the process of defining Council guidelines on planning applications. None of that actually happened, and in order to show examples of what is called “extensive public consultation”, there is only need to consider two recent events.

First, the Planning Forum, the object of which is to discuss the wide issues of planning process in the borough was organised last month… after 18 months absence. People attending received a personal invitation, and had to represent an organisation or group. I was told that the minutes will be published in … 6 months, therefore, as far as I’m concerned, I am the only one to have reported on it.

The second example is easily provided by the recent notice (through the Council website, not publicized in Borough News) that a public hearing will be organised for the review of the Council Core Strategy document. As we try – with difficulty – to follow it, you will find information on our website (and thanks for pointing out if you find any other source…). The meeting was meant to happened next week but has been already cancelled. Instead, an exploratory meeting will be held at the Town Hall on the 16th June: you can attend but not participate.

Once again the consultation for a planning application that may have consequences not only on the adjacent streets, but on the all future of the town centre seem to take place in mild confidentiality. Local residents deserve more than 15 days do discuss such planning.

The Council should not approve a scheme that has not definite support for the redevelopment of Clapham Junction town centre, and must acknowledge the concerns that have been expressed so widely in the recent weeks and months on the need of development that respect the Victorian town centre of Clapham Junction, with a coherence of mainly low rise buildings. Once again and for all the previous reasons, this plan must be refused by the Council in its current presentation.

Let the Council know your view

If you would like to join us complaining to the Council about the project, please use one of the following

email to:
Council: Planning Application/Paul Landsberg [Ref: 2009/1291]
planningapplications@wandsworth.gov.uk

Tel: (020) 8871 8413

or write to:
Planning Service – Technical Service Department
Town Hall
Wandsworth High Street
London SW18 2PU

Please also contact/email and let them know your concerns:

All contact details available HERE.

May 27, 2009 at 10:57 am 8 comments

Tower-block hotel proposal in Mossbury Road: photos and sketches

Author: Cyril Richert

As explained in our previous article, a new hotel has been proposed at the bottom of Mossbury Road, 155 Falcon Road (in front of PCS).

We publish below a mix of photos and sketches, taken from the application documents on the Council website, reference 2009/1291 (click on the images to see bigger). On several images, we compare the current views with the changes made by the hotel proposal.

155 Falcon Road currently Mossbury Road
Current site                                                        Mossbury Road

155 Falcon Road hotel proposal 155 Falcon Road hotel proposal - building mark
Montages based on images from the developers and building print.

Hotel proposal - sketch 1 Hotel proposal - sketch 2

Current view from Mossbury Road Mossbury Road with hotel proposal - montage
Current view in Mossbury Road     Mossbury Road with hotel

Hotel sketch 6 Hotel sketch 7
Clapham Junction skyline with hotel proposal
Skyline showing the new hotel proposal (with current building line) in comparison to the nearby building and Arding and Hobbes

May 26, 2009 at 4:32 pm 22 comments

New hotel tower in Clapham Junction

Author: Cyril Richert

New tower-block hotel proposed in Clapham JunctionA new hotel has been proposed at the bottom of Mossbury Road, 155 Falcon Road (in front of PCS).

The application has been submitted to the Council with the reference 2009/1291.

The application description is such as:

Demolition of existing buildings, and construction of a 16-storey building (plus plant and basement) providing a 132-bedroom hotel, with ancillary restaurant/bar and conference facilities; and a separate shop or restaurant unit fronting Falcon Road at ground floor level.

The website set-up by the developers gives a few additional information (I highlight the key points):

  • The new building responds to adopted planning policies accepting the principle of taller buildings in town centres, especially where economic and regeneration arguments add further weight.
  • The design is a contemporary response to the requirements of the brief and to the need to consider the constraints of the Conservation Area in which the site is located. The building envelope uses a range of materials, volumes, rhythms, colours and tones referenced to existing nearby buildings, including the Debenham’s department store (formerly Arding and Hobbs), the Falcon public house and The Grand Theatre.
  • The architects have undertaken a comprehensive review of the constraints of the brief and the site, and paid particular attention to the setting of the building within the Conservation Area and its relationship with existing buildings including nearby but unadjacent listed buildings.
  • The hotel entrance and servicing will be off Mossbury Road and the ground floor contains reception, restaurant and kitchen areas, with plant and service facilities below.
  • The development is restricted to three levels at its abutment with the terrace of houses on the rising frontage of Mossbury Road, reflecting the rhythm of the street.

The application has been filed by Oak Trading Company Ltd, a part of The Redwood Property Group.

David Rosemont, architect consultant to Husband and Carpenter Architects Ltd, and former Chair of the Wandsworth Challenge Partnership, said

“The design has evolved after a long period of design refinement following scrupulous consultation with the fullest range of local and other bodies, including potential operators.

The project has been carefully considered to provide the correct balance between quality, sustainability and viability. It is acknowledged that this part of the Clapham Junction Town Centre is in need of improvement and investment and a hotel of this high quality can deliver significant benefits to the Conservation Area and local community including businesses. The project offers the opportunity of a lifetime for the right project in the right location”

You might have noticed that David Rosemont has already commented some of our articles on this website, here and there (bottom of the articles, section comments).

In order to have an idea of one of the consequences on the area, here is a montage based on images from the developers:

155 Falcon Road currently
Current site

155 Falcon Road hotel proposal 155 Falcon Road hotel proposal - building mark
Site proposal


Update: As I was criticised below with the choice of colour to picture the building mark, I display some other possibilities 😀 (feel free to email me if you think that blue or pink gives a better representation of the building)

155 Falcon Road hotel proposal - building mark green 155 Falcon Road hotel proposal - building mark yellow


155 Falcon Road hotel proposal - building mark

Update 2: First image criticised by the developer (in size… and colour, so it was amended above):

May 26, 2009 at 11:15 am 18 comments

European election Thu 4 June 2009

Author: Cyril Richert

Nothing to do with Clapham Junction and towers (so far) but I would like to take to opportunity of the audience of this website to join LoveClapham and remind you about the European election in a few days.

There are 72 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) representing the UK to elect. The UK is divided into 12 regions for the vote, with anywhere between three and 10 MEPs representing each region.

The MEPs will be elected for a period of five years. You will only need to put one X on your ballot paper when you vote, selecting which political party or independent candidate you favour out of those on offer. The winners will be selected by a system of proportional representation.

Lists for London can be found here.

You will find information about the role of a MEP here.

All the 736 MEP will be elected between June the 4th and the 7th in the 27 countries of the European Union.

If you want to see how your MEPs vote and represent you in the European Parliament, it is here: http://www.votewatch.eu (an independent monitoring website of EU politics). It provides detailed information about parliamentarians’ voting records and formal political activities – from committee work to parliamentary reports – and includes easy-to-access information on the political coalitions that are formed around policy issues.

All citizens of the EU who have registered in the EU country they live in can vote.

And in case you wonder what Europe has ever done for us and why you need to vote, just look here.

May 25, 2009 at 2:10 pm

In the press

Author: Cyril Richert

2 articles regarding the withdrawal of the Clapham Junction station redevelopment application (click on the article to see it bigger).

Wandsworth Guardian - End of Storey - 21/05/2009

South London Press - Tower plans tumble - 22/05/2009

May 25, 2009 at 12:21 pm

NORTHCOTE WARD E-bulletin May 2009

Author: Cyril Richert

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

NORTHCOTE WARD E-bulletin May 2009

Special edition – Clapham Junction planning application WITHDRAWN by the Developers.

Welcome to our latest bulletin with a report on the withdrawal of the Clapham Junction planning application together with information about half term activities; the Wandsworth Heritage Festival; the Northcote Road carnival & the Lavender Hill festival and the move of Battersea’s Citizens Advice Bureau to Northcote Ward. Please forward the bulletin to friends and neighbours.

Philip Beddows, Peter Dawson and Martin Johnson

Councillors, Northcote Ward, Battersea,

Wandsworth Borough Council.

Email: Heretohelp@wandsworthconservatives.com

Among all the topics, the main one was commenting the Clapham Junction redevelopment proposal (I included links to articles on this website).

Clapham Junction Planning Application – WITHDRAWN

We learnt late on Monday afternoon (May 18th) that the developer, Metro Shopping Fund, had withdrawn its Clapham Junction planning application.

This welcome news was announced some 48 hours before Wandsworth’s Planning Committee met on Wednesday evening (May 20th) to consider the application. The report by the Borough Planning Officer was recommending that the application be refused because

a. there was insufficient benefit to public transport infrastructure in the town centre

b. affordable housing was omitted from the scheme.

A spokesman for the developer is reported as saying “We are deeply disappointed therefore that the report to the committee was not able to give the proposal its backing”.

As ward councillors we have taken an active role in connection with this application by urging local residents and businesses to make their views known to the Planning Department as well as speaking about the application at the Ward report back meeting last November and at the public meeting in January this year.

Martin Johnson, who is a member of the Planning Committee, was intending to propose additional reasons at Wednesday’s meeting for refusing the application including the scale, design and massing of the proposals and the sheer inadequacy of the proposed improvements to the station access.

At the Wandsworth Council meeting on May 13th Philip Beddows presented the online petition, organised by the Clapham Junction Action Group, opposing the proposals.

Peter Dawson made a written submission to the Planning Department on May 5th opposing the proposals much of which was quoted in the Planning Officer’s report to committee. The main points in his letter relate to the scale, height, design and density of the proposed 42 storey tower blocks being inappropriate at this location and out of character; the lack of new prime office accommodation and the loss of current office space and jobs from the town centre; the inadequate proposals relating to the bus / rail interchange and the partial nature of the station proposals.

The full text of the letter is available at the Planning website.

Overall we had come to the conclusion that though improvements are desperately required at Clapham Junction station, not least because of passenger safety concerns, this application only partially addressed the problems at the station while the impact of the overall scale and type of development on the surrounding residential and local shopping areas was unacceptable.

Jane Ellison opposed this application

Battersea’s Conservative Parliamentary spokesperson, Jane Ellison, wrote to the Council’s Planning Department on May 5th setting out her objections to these proposals.

Full text of her letter is at www.janeellison.net

In our next e-bulletin we will include a commentary on the planning process and what might happen next.

Read our article on the withdrawal:

May 24, 2009 at 4:22 pm

Planning Committee Meeting 20 May 2009

Author: Cyril Richert

The Planning Applications Committee meeting was hold on Wednesday 20 May at the Town Hall. As confirmed by Councillor Leslie McDonnell, chairman, the application for Clapham Junction station redevelopment was withdrawn by the applicants (Metro Shopping Fund) on Monday (follow the link to read our comment).

Planning Committee - Public spaceThe small space reserved for public in room 122/123 (about 30 seats) was crowded with more than 40 people, some people seating on the floor or standing near the door. Additionally, two rows of seats were also disposed in front, directly in the main room. That was not enough, and people kept coming crossing others leaving. [1]

The meeting started at 7.30pm. After agreeing on the Minutes of the previous meeting, Cllr McDonnell said that on Monday at about 3.30pm the applicants withdrew their application for Clapham Junction station, and therefore this item would not be debated. However Cllr Belton made a short statement highlighting that more than 600 residents objected (actually more than 800 objections) and he wishes that such application does not set a precedent. Cllr McDonnell replied that there is no relation between Planning Officer and Councillors.

And then…. That’s it.

Planning Committee - room 122For the next 1 1/2 hour it went on with the other applications. The discussion was extensive on Trade Tower Plantation Wharf which was criticised for scale and proportion issues within the vicinity which led eventually to refusal (it is encouraging that several councillors made the points).

Finished at 9.15pm…. I cannot imagine what time it would have finished should you have had the full agenda.

[1] An email was sent to everyone on our mailing list, in addition to the topic posted on the website, stating that the item was withdrawn from the agenda. Apparently more than 60 people decided it was still worth showing their concern!

May 21, 2009 at 2:08 pm

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