Archive for June, 2009

The planning application for a 16 storey hotel at 155 Falcon Rd in Clapham Junction was thrown out by Wandsworth Borough Council

Author: Imogen Radford with notes from Julia Matcham

Wandsworth Council planning committee agreed unanimously at its meeting 25 June to reject the planning application.

Planning applications chairman Leslie McDonnell said:

“We had no problem with a hotel in this location – it would clearly be a benefit to the town centre.

The concerns were more about whether the site could accommodate a building of this size. The new structure would be out of scale with the nearby houses in Mossbury Road.

There is scope for a taller building here but it must respect its immediate surroundings and the properties around it.

It would be regrettable if the council’s decision were overturned. We are not saying we do not want investment here – just that any development must be of the right scale and size for its location.”

The committee concluded that the scheme would result in an overbearing and dominant development which would fail to preserve or enhance the Clapham Junction conservation area.

In rejecting the application the planning committee took account of the recommendation of the planning officer to reject the application because of the ‘unduly prominent‘ height of the design and that it would ‘fail to preserve or enhance the character of the Clapham Junction conservation area‘. In addition the proposed hotel was not accessible to people with disabilities and did not meet sustainability and environmental criteria.

At the meeting Councillor Martin Johnson outlined concerns about the unsuitability of the proposal. He spoke extensively about the downside of the proposal and put forward many arguments we would agree with about the unsuitability of tall buildings in this area.

Councillor Tony Belton said that the council should reconsider its emerging policy towards buildings in view of the clear public view that they were not wanted.

Some members of the committee were keen to see regeneration in the area, but doubts were expressed about whether such a scheme would really help to regenerate the area as claimed. Councillor Belton pointed out that people often use hotels literally just for bed and breakfast and then spend the rest of the day in London on either tourism or business, and that the developers were only claiming to be creating 30 jobs and these were relatively low paid.

Some councillors spoke about benefits of having a hotel in terms of regeneration for the area, but no one spoke up for the design or defended the height of the building. It seems that the recommendation of the planning officer and the comments of many is that the building would tower over surrounding buildings and would be inappropriate for the conservation area clearly swayed the committee. Even if they didn’t state that this was the reason for the rejection, the decision is another nail in the coffin for unwanted tall buildings in the area, and a recognition of the public view that such proposals would be unsuitable and unwanted.

On the request of the applicant the decision has now been referred to the Mayor of London who will decide whether to intervene. The applicant argues that by rejecting the scheme the council risks deterring further investment in the town centre contrary to the Mayor’s regeneration policies.

But the Mayor’s office had objected to the application in relation to sustainable construction techniques and the lack of disabled access facilities, amongst other things (you can read the Mayor’s office opinion here).

Although the chair of the planning committee was careful not to rule out tall buildings on principle, it is clear that this building was rejected for that reason. Perhaps the council will now listen to people who live and work in the area who don’t want to see its character changed or to see a succession of threats to change its character by yet more unsuitable proposals.

June 30, 2009 at 6:46 am 1 comment

In the press

Author: Cyril Richert

I cannot make the Planning Committee meeting tonight but some others will report for us on the website.

I have just spotted this article below in Wandsworth Guardian. It will add a little bit more pressure for tonight … 😉

Wandsworth councillors advised to reject 16-storey Clapham Junction hotel plan

7:20am Wednesday 24th June 2009

Wandsworth councillors are expected to reject plans for a 16-storey hotel in Clapham Junction on Thursday night, just 48 hours after heritage group English Heritage (EH) said the area was “at risk of losing its character”.

[…]

On Tuesday English Heritage said 81 of 486 conservation areas surveyed in London – including Clapham Junction – were threatened by “neglect, decay or damaging change”.

The list is part of English Heritage’s At Risk Register, which identifies areas that have deteriorated in the last three years or are at a risk of doing so in the next three years.

The statement from English Heritage they refer to is here (BBC website).

We have reported about the planning officer recommendation there.

June 25, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Clapham Junction Hotel: Town planner recommends refusal.

Author: Cyril Richert

The planning officer has recommended that the Planning Applications Committee reject the application for a 16 storey hotel in 155 Falcon Road (site of the old Job Centre, bottom of Mossbury Road).

Recommendation is that, subject to any Direction from the Mayor of London, planning permission be refused on the grounds that: –

  1. The proposed building by reason of its height would be an unduly prominent and incongruous development and together with its poor detailed design would fail to preserve or enhance the character of the Clapham Junction Conservation Area and the setting of nearby listed buildings…
  2. The proposal does not comply with sustainable design and climate change policies in terms of renewable energy and low carbon development contrary to Core Strategy…
  3. The proposal does not ensure an accessible environment for people with disabilities and fails to include any wheelchair accessible bedrooms…

[Full document is available here]

The report follows essentially two objections: the one submitted by English Heritage (commented here) and the one submitted by the Mayor of London’s office (commented here).

Height: the report follows the objections of English Heritage

On the height issue, the comment highlight that “for most objectors, the height of the building is the most significant and contentious aspect of the proposal“. As we have previously written, the decision to proceed with the hotel scheme was specifically driven by the Council’s recommendation in its Core Strategy document that Clapham Junction was a suitable location for regeneration through the construction of tall buildings (part. 4.132 of the document). However the town planner follows here the argument of so many objections, in line with English Heritage and CABE, and says: “there are serious doubts as to whether the application site can adequately accommodate a building of this size in townscape terms. […] The proposed building significantly exceeds the prevailing height of surrounding buildings, while there are no other examples of tall buildings within the Clapham Junction Town Centre“.

We also note that the planning officer considers the size of this very compact site and writes: “The new building would result in an overdevelopment of the site reflected in the exceptional high plot ratio and it would be an unduly bulky and prominent building in relation to the extent of site. […] The proposed building does not physically integrate with its surroundings and would dwarf the surrounding buildings; in particular it would be out of scale with the houses in Mossbury Road. In this context, the site would not be suitable for a sixteen-storey building“.

More surprising (but very welcomed) when you keep in mind the very positive view given by the planning service to the erection of two 42-storey towers in a previous application in Clapham Junction, less than 50 yards away from the proposed site of the hotel, the town planner says: “the building does not relate to its environment, and it would be highly prominent in views from most directions. Although the proposal would replace a building of no particular merit, and a taller building than the existing height might be achievable, it is difficult to argue that this proposal meets the policy tests and would not make a positive contribution to the townscape and the public realm“.

English Heritage’s comment was also deeply used in criticising the design and the report says that “the development does not respect the grain of the conservation area, and due to its sheer size and design it would fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area. […] The proposed building would impinge on the local views towards the two listed buildings of the former Arding and Hobbs building and the Falcon public house“.

Techniques and guidelines: the report follows the objections of the Mayor of London’s office

The report quotes the criticisms of the Mayor of London’s letter in reference to sustainable construction techniques, comments that the proposals does not comply with the climate policies of the London Plan and the issue on lack of enough disable access facilities. In addition the planning officer says that “notwithstanding the above analysis, it is considered the proposal would result in an unneighbourly overbearing and dominant development when viewed from properties in Mossbury Road, and would create an undue sense of enclosure“.

The application will be presented before the Planning Committee on June 25th

After the number of objections made by the Mayor of London’s letter (along with suggestions to possible remedies) the developers were expecting to go before the Planning Committee at a later date (July or later) in order to have further time to submit more documents supporting their case. However, the planning officer considers that “there is an “in-principle” objection to the height of the proposed development and that this would not be overcome by additional graphics“.

We can only welcome this recommendation and hope that this will prefigure further changes in the Core Strategy regarding the possibility of tall buildings in applications submitted for Clapham Junction.

(The news was also published a few days ago on Cllr Cousins’ blog)

The decision to proceed with the hotel scheme was specifically driven by the Council’s recommendation in its Core Strategy document that Clapham Junction was a suitable location for regeneration through the construction of tall buildings (part. 4.132 of the document).

June 22, 2009 at 11:16 pm 2 comments

Analysis of presentations: 85 objections vs 12 supports

Author: Cyril Richert

Up to June the 19th, we counted 85 objections on the Council’s website. There is only 12 letters supporting the application.

Most of the objections are concentrating on the size of the building (excessive development of the site, not in scale with the nearby Victorian and Edwardian low rise houses, out of character and inappropriate impact on conservation area, makes a mockery of the whole principle of conservation area, etc) and some highlight that the recent campaign against the station redevelopment has clearly shown that residents do not want tall towers.

Additional objections show concerns on noise, deliveries, congestion (parking space) and impact on neighbours (all what you can also already read here and there for example on our website).

As we did in the previous campaign against the application including the twin towers, we display below the map visualising the location of most of the letters (some locations couldn’t be automatically determined on Google map) with the following colours:

  • red = objections to the planning permission
  • blue= support

Objections (red) vs Supports (blue)(click on the map to see it bigger)

As presented by this map, the “extensive” consultation conducted by the developers in the adjacent street of Mossbury Road was clearly not sufficiant and a clear concern is shown by residents in the all vicinity of Clapham Junction town centre.

June 22, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Hotel in CJ: Societies’ objections

[From Cyril Richert: We publish below the objections sent by the Battersea Society (download letter here) and the Wandsworth Society (download letter here).]

Author: Battersea Society

15 June 2009

The Battersea Society acknowledges that hotel accommodation is a desirable use in Battersea Town Centre, and potentially on this site, but wishes to object to the scale and height of this proposed building.

We consider a 16-storey building would be entirely out of place on a site which is so significant in relation to the Clapham Junction Conservation Area and the listed buildings it contains.

We note two specific points in relation to the present proposal:

  1. It does not appear that the plans have been developed in consultation with an operator for a hotel once built. We suggest that an operating plan ought to have been developed as a basis for decisions regarding number and size of rooms required for economic viability and the grade of hotel accommodation appropriate for this site.
  2. The height of the proposed tower is the result of using only part of the site for the bedroom block, and alternative approaches coudl have been adopted.

We urge the council to reject the present proposal.


Author: Wandsworth Society

8 June 2009

We have been provided with drawings of the proposal and would wish to raise objection on the following grounds:

We believe that the height and general massing is excessive in this location, although we accept that the proposed use would be suitable, being close to the transport interchange and shopping facilities.

The height of sixteen floors would be completely out of character with the conservation area and would dominate the adjoining low-rise Victorian houses in Mossbury Road whose residents would suffer from a substantially increased noise level with deliveries at all time of the day and night.

Service traffic will be considerable for a hotel of 132 rooms, including a conference centre and could cause serious problems for this already very busy road junction. There will also be greatly increased pressure on residents’ parking space, as no on-site parking, or dropping-off spaces for guests is provided and outside business hours parking will be difficultor impossible to control. There are no off-street public parking areas in the immediate vicinity. we understand the nearby supermarkets are adamant that their car parks are for shoppers only.

In the absence of a comprehensive plan for the area, we believe that the proposal will set a precedence for buildings of similar height and mass that is unacceptable.

We trust that you will take these objections into account in your consideration and report to the Committee and recommend refusal for the application.

June 22, 2009 at 3:53 pm

Leaflet – No to tower-block hotel

Author: Cyril Richert

We have published a leaflet that we distributed mainly to residents of Mossbury Road 2 weeks ago (mainly to people I – and my neighbour – were able to speak to actually – no time to do more rounds unfortunately 😦 ).

For information, you can view it here.

… more update to follow soon today!

June 22, 2009 at 12:14 pm

The Mayor considers that the application does not preserve the area, nor comply with the London Plan

[From Cyril Richert: We publish below the comment sent by the Mayor of London’s office regarding the planning application for a Hotel in Clapham Junction (full letter here). I highlighted in bold some parts.

You will appreciate that, beside criticism on the application and its impact on the area, they request better images, and photo-montages. As a matter of fact, I should invite the Mayor to refer to the photos and montages we published earlier. Whilst some mocked their need and reported them as “pastiches”, they seem to be requested.]

Author: Giles Dolphin, Head of Planning Decisions, Mayor’s office

Dear Mr Landsberg

I refer to the copy of the above planning application, which was received from you on 6 April 2009. On 10 June 2009, the Deputy Mayor Policy and Planning, acting under delegated authority, considered a report on this proposal, reference PDU/2Ö02/0l. A copy of the report is attached, in full. This letter comprises the statement that the Mayor is required to provide under Article 4(2) of the Order.

The Deputy Mayor considers that the application does not comply with the London Plan, for the reasons set out in paragraph 48 [1] of the above-mentioned report; but that the possible remedies set out in paragraph 50 [2] of this report could address these deficiencies.

Additionally, notwithstanding some contents within the report, the Deputy Mayor considered the perspective images provided as inadequate to convince him that the proposal would preserve and enhance the character of the conservation area and preserve the settings of nearby listed buildings, notably the Arding and Hobbs building.photomontages should be provided of the building to better illustrate how it would sit within the townscape context. The Deputy Mayor also requests the submission of further details on the proposed facing materials of the tower element so that he is convinced that they would be of the highest quality. In this regard drawing EL/OS should be amended to show these proposed materials in place. A detailed justification of the chosen materials is also required to demonstrate how they will preserve and enhance the conservation area. Therefore, high quality and detailed Computer Generated Images (CGls) and

If your Council subsequently resolves to make a draft decision on the application, it must consult the Mayor again under Article 5 of the Order and allow him fourteen days to decide whether to allow the draft decision to proceed unchanged, or direct the Council under Article 6 to refuse the application, or issue a direction under Article 7 that he is to act as the local planning authority for the purpose of determining the application and any connected application. You should therefore send me a copy of any representations made in respect of the application, and a copy of any officer’s report, together with a statement of the decision your authority proposes to make, and (if it proposed to grant permission) a statement of any conditions the authority proposes to impose and a draft of any planning obligation it proposes to enter into and details of any proposed planning contribution.

Yoúrs sincerely

Giles Dolphin
Head of Planning Decisions


[1] paragraph 48: “London Plan policies on hotel development, town centres, mixed-use development, urban design, inclusive design, climate change mitigation and adaptation and transport are all relevant to this application. The application complies with some of these policies but not with others, for the following reasons:

  1. Land use principle: The proposed mixed-use development to include retail/restaurant uses at ground floor with hotel above within Clapham Junction Town Centre are acceptable and in accordance with London Plan policies 2A.8, 30.1, 3D.2 and 3D.7
  2. Urban design: The proposal for a tall building on this highly accessible town centre site, which could create a landmark building and act as a catalyst for urban regeneration, is compliant with London Plan policies 4B.1, 4B.2, 4B.8, 4B.9, 4B.1 0 and 4B.13. However, the hotel entrance ground floor elevation requires further design alterations.
  3. Inclusive design: The application fails to include any wheelchair accessible bedrooms contrary to London Plan policies 30.6 and 4B.S.
  4. Climate change mitigation and adaptation: The climate change mitigation proposals do not comply with the climate policies of the London Plan, particularly 4AJ, 4A.4, 4A.S, 4A.6 and 4A.7 for reasons set out paragraphs 25-31 above. No information has been provided on climate change adaptation contrary to policies 4A.10 – 4A.16 and the Mayor’s Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) ‘Sustainable Design and Construction’.
  5. Transport: TfL requires further information before this application could be supported. In particular, the coach parking proposal and travel plan should be revised. Further information about cycle parking is needed, along with swept paths for Mossbury Road and the developer’s commitment to developing servicing management and construction logistics plans. Finally, a contribution of £60,000 is requested towards bus accessibility improvements on Falcon Road and an additional contribution is requested towards the Clapham Junction Town Centre Exemplar Scheme. The application is contrary London Plan policies 3C.2, 3C.22, 3C.23 and 3C.2S.”

[2] paragraph 50: The following changes might, however, remedy the above-mentioned deficiencies, and could possibly lead to the application becoming compliant with the London Plan:

  1. Urban design: Further cross sections and elevations should be provided of the hotel entrance ground floor elevation to demonstrate how hotel patrons/employees, refuse servicing, and cyclists would comfortably enter and exit the building, taking into account the gradient 0n Mossbury Road. The design of the ground floor elevation should be revisited to relate better to the first and second floor elevations above.
  2. Inclusive design: The application should include at least seven (5%) fully wheelchair accessible bedrooms which should be clearly shown on the floor plans and referenced to in the access statement. A typical floor plan layout of an accessible room should also be provided.
  3. Climate change mitigation and adaptation: The applicant is requested to submit an amended energy statement with reference to the detailed information required, and a sustainability statement should also be submitted referencing the Mayor’s essential and preferred standards as set out in the ‘Sustainable Design and Construction’ sPG.
  4. Transport: The coach parking proposal and travel plan should be revised. Further information about cycle parking is needed, along with swept paths for Mossbury Road and the developer’s commitment to developing servicing management and construction logistics plans. Finally, a contribution of £60,000 is requested towards bus accessibility improvements on Falcon Road and an additional contribution is requested towards the Clapham Junction Town Centre Exemplar Scheme.”

Criticisms in paragraph 48 are developed along the report in different parts:

paragraph 21: “It is not clear whether the ground floor elevation will achieve a practical and legible street level entrance to the hotel. The elevation appears unwelcoming and unresolved. Further cross sections and elevations should be provided for this part of the building to demonstrate how hotel patrons/employees, refuse servicing, and cyclists would comfortably enter and exit the building, taking into account the gradient on MossburyRoad“.

paragraph 29: “The submitted energy statement preferred option of installing electric panel heaters for supplying the heating requirements of the hotel. This option is unacceptable as it prohibits the entire hotel heating requirements from being supplied by an external heat network.”

paragraph 31: “The lack of a cooling strategy is contrary to strategic policy 4A.6.”

paragraph 32: “the applicant proposes to include either ground source heat
pumps or biomass boilers […] The renewable energy proposals are contrary to
strategic policy 4A.7.”

paragraph 37: “A strategy for coach parking should be developed as part of this application. TfL suggests that the proposed loading bay on Mossbury Road could be a shared loading and coach bay, although swept paths would be required to show that this is feasible.

paragraph 39: “concerns about the proposed delivery and servicing of the development, in that the proposed loading facilities appear unfeasible due to the narrow width of Mossbury Road and could result in damage to parked cars or require servicing vehicles to reverse onto Falcon Road.”

paragraph 42: “The submitted travel plan is not considered acceptable and should be tailored to the site and the London context.”

paragraph 43&44: “TfL therefore requests the developer to make a contribution of £60,000 towards the bus accessibility improvements. […] contribution towards Wandsworth Council’s proposed Clapham Junction Town Centre Exemplar Scheme is also requested.” (the famous section 106)

June 11, 2009 at 2:13 pm 3 comments

Meeting Report – Hotel Developer Tim Glass from Redwood Property & Trading Company Ltd

Authors: Kate Williams, Cyril Richert

Last Monday we met with Tim Glass, Director of Redwood Property and Trading Company Ltd, the company applying for the Hotel planning at 155 Falcon Road. It was a very pleasant and constructive conversation for more than 2 hours and we will try to report below the essence of the discussion.

The property in 155 Falcon Road was acquired in 2000 by Redwood Property. It was originally purchased as a long term investment with a 15 year lease to the government. Unfortunately the government expressed its intention to move the Job Centre and an agreement was reached for them to leave before 2010 (when they were entitled to break the lease anyway). Since then the office space has been rented out to a solicitor and to a Cancer charity (which was offered the space for free according to Tim Glass).

Redwood Property then looked at a way of improving the low rent that they get from letting the property. Options included:

  • Placing the property on the market as a development opportunity in which event a planning permission for a large redevelopment would certainly increase its value; or
  • Developing the property and leasing to a business user, whether a hotel operator, or as offices.

An alternative planning

Tim mentioned that the Council had granted consent to the previous owner for a redevelopment within a similar size building for a restaurant, office space and 3 floors of residential apartments, with the addition of 2 properties with a similar size to the existing Victorian houses at the place of the current car park.

Tim explained that this plan was not favoured for several reasons but primarily because in his view the demand for office space in Clapham Junction was not high enough to justify a speculative development. However, if approached by potential business tenants, he would be prepared to consider such a proposal (that he called Plan B), although the pressure to build high would still be strong given the achievable rental values in the area.

The Council’s encouragement to build tall

The decision to proceed with the hotel scheme was specifically driven by the Council’s recommendation in its Core Strategy document that Clapham Junction was a suitable location for regeneration through the construction of tall buildings (part. 4.132 of the document). A hotel would not be viable in a six storey building so the Council’s Plan made the concept of a hotel possible. Two years had been spent developing the plans during which Redwood had met with the Council planners 3 or 4 times. Although they expressed some concerns, none of these had related to the scale or height of the building, although the Council had remarked that the site was not considered a ‘landmark’ site. The Council has not, to date, made any proposals for a Section 106 agreement.

The GLA, on the other hand, did express concerns about bulk and massing but an agreement was reached by scaling back the development on the car park site and placing a tower on the Falcon Road end, thus creating a separation between the tall building and the adjoining Victorian terrace. The revised proposal is therefore substantially different to that initially envisaged (as well as being less extravagant in its design). New requirements have also related to sustainability which, again, has caused pressure on costs.

Redwood also met twice with English Heritage (as is the practice for tall buildings). English Heritage have recently recommended that the plans should be refused for reasons associated with the height of the tower, and its design – particularly the Eastern façade which faces Mossbury Road.

Before proceeding with the original plan (for a lower building with greater massing), Redwood presented its plans to Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership. Tim mentioned that their presentation followed directly after that of Metro who were unveiling their plans for the complete redevelopment of the Clapham Junction station site including proposals for two 42 storey towers. Although few comments were made (we wonder whether the members were feeling somewhat bowled over at this stage) those who did comment welcomed the idea of a hotel, he said.

Suggestions on alternative designs and functions

We discussed the Wessex House development where the owners have recently agreed to limit reconstruction to six storeys in keeping with the surrounding buildings. Tim again commented that the difference here was that Wessex House is not being proposed as a hotel, and that although there was scope for cutting down the tower by a couple of stories or so, any more would make a hotel proposal non-viable.

We also considered other ways in which the tower could be scaled back including through greater massing at the rear, perhaps through a stepped down design, or by omitting the conference centre and retail/restaurant development on the ground floor. Both of these solutions were broadly acceptable, however both were being driven by Wandsworth Council who favoured some continuity of use.

Besides the height of the building where we disagree, other interesting points were made in relation to the likely impact of the building on the surrounding roads:

  • Redwood have assessed that no more than 13 deliveries should take place per week and could be provided by middle size vans;
  • Although no proposal had been made for coach parking, it had been recommended by the GLA that a bay should be provided in Mossbury Road;
  • In Redwood’s view, the additional parking and taxi usage should not be bigger than with an office usage given the location’s proximity to the station;
  • Proposals were considered to locate the entrance on Falcon Lane instead of Mossbury Road. However, Redwood do not own the piece of land between the site and Falcon Lane, and the current owner has not expressed a will to sell.

As we expressed, we remain convinced that an alternative proposal could be worked out which would reduce the pressure to build as high as is currently being proposed. In the end, the developers for the Wessex House building found a viable way to develop a 5-6 storey building in a similar compact space. Clearly we recognise that our aims conflict in that Redwood are entitled to pursue a proposal which offers the greatest possible return on their investment, whilst we, the community, are entitled not to have inflicted upon us buildings which impact on the quality of our environment and local amenity.

The Council needs to clarify its policy on tall buildings

In conclusion, the meeting was definitely worth it and we very much welcome this sort of discussion where all parties can express their views. We only regret that it happened so late in the planning process and we have definitely expressed our good will to work together to try to achieve common ground.

First and foremost, however, we will continue to work for the Council’s policy on tall buildings to be clarified so that developers don’t keep spending great amounts of time and money on proposals which prove so unpopular as soon as local people get to hear about them. As Tim Glass said: Redwood wouldn’t have looked at a tower block building if the Council was not encouraging them by providing a policy that supports it. Therefore we urgently need to proceed with our call to review the Core Strategy document to take into account the concerns expressed by the local residents for the future they want to give and the legacy they want to leave in Clapham Junction.


[From Cyril Richert: We received today (11/06/2009) the following response from Tim Glass]

Author: Tim Glass

Dear Kate and Cyril,

I was pleased to meet you both on Monday and was glad of the opportunity to discuss our proposals with you. Although I know that the principle of a tall building remains fundamentally contentious, I do feel that the meeting was constructive and I hope that some positive common ground has been established.

There are just a few points that I should clarify and if I am responsible for any confusion or misunderstanding, I apologise.

1. Your readers might be confused about the applicant, being Oak Trading Company Ltd., and Redwood Property & Trading Company Ltd.- referred to in your report. Perhaps I should explain that Oak Trading Co. Ltd. (i.e. the applicant) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Redwood Property & Trading Co. Ltd.

2. We did, indeed, offer the entire building, rent free, to the cancer charity prior to renting it to a firm of solicitors. The cancer charity has, more recently, decided to rent some of the space directly from the solicitor tenant.

3. You have, quite correctly, reported that we don’t feel that speculative office development is viable and, whilst we could be interested in office redevelopment, if we were approached by a suitable business tenant, this does seem most unlikely and so I think I would be a bit optimistic calling it ‘Plan B’, which perhaps creates the impression that it is a realistic prospect. Furthermore, Clapham Junction would still be without the hotel that we believe it needs.

4. I should correct some confusion between the reported reaction of the GLA and the Council. Whilst the GLA have always been generally supportive of our proposals, it is the Council which has expressed concerns about bulk and massing, as well as height. The point that I was trying to convey is that at the meetings with the Council, over all, these were expressed as ‘concerns’ and we have modified and reduced our scheme several times, from an initially, more ambitious, ‘landmark’ building, to the current, more modest, proposals in a genuine attempt to address these, whilst preserving the viability of our project. We were also made aware, by the Council, of the need to satisfy the other appropriate practical, ‘nuts and bolts,’ issues such as daylight, sunlight, overlooking, noise etc. and, indeed, we feel that we have successfully done so.

5. For the record, I think the desirability of a significant degree of separation between the existing residential houses, in Mossbury Road, and the tower element of our building was expressed by both the GLA and the Council but; in any event, we have adhered to this advice.

6. We consulted English Heritage twice, and met them once. After this meeting we fundamentally revised our proposals and submitted the redrafted scheme with a Conservation Area Appraisal, which is one of the application documents that can be inspected on the Council’s website. English Heritage’s comments have also been posted on the website and, indeed, I believe you have already referred to them.

7. I think you will recall, that I emphasised that the number of rooms is really the critical factor as far as viability is concerned and, although I stand by my comment that there may be the scope to reduce the height by a couple of storeys or so, it is important to recognise that one would have to also add to the depth to compensate – which may be possible and perhaps this is an area which could merit further consideration.

8. In relation to one of your bullet points, it is actually the conclusion of the appointed traffic consultants, that no significant traffic impact is anticipated relating to the proposed development (i.e. not just our opinion). This is obviously due to the high level of public transport services that are available – i.e. trains and buses, as well as the anticipated future tube connection. Transport for London have recently confirmed the traffic impact and that car free development is acceptable and in line with the relevant policy.

9. Similarly, it is the consultants who have assessed that no more that 13 deliveries should take place per week using medium goods vehicles (and, in fact, this includes refuse collection).

For your further information, the GLA have also, very recently, suggested some minor modifications to the Mossbury Road elevation at low level and we have sent them some ideas this week. The Council have been copied in on this work and I assume that the drawings will be available on their website for inspection soon.

You are absolutely right in reporting that we wouldn’t be proposing a tall hotel building if we did not feel that the Council’s stated policy supported this.

Many thanks

Tim Glass

June 10, 2009 at 2:55 pm 10 comments

In the press

South London Press, 5 June 2009:

South London Press, 5 June 2009

Wandsworth Guardian, 4 June 2009:

Wandsworth Guardian, 4 June 2009

June 8, 2009 at 2:46 pm 6 comments

English Heritage: “We urge the Council to recommend refusal”

[From Cyril Richert: This is the recommendation for refusal from English Heritage received by the Council on May the 29th (I’ve chosen to put in bold some parts). You can download the original letter here.]


Animated size comparison between existing building size and proposed constructionSummary

The site is currently occupied by a five storey office building, of mid-20th century origin. The buildings is of little historic or architectural merit, and English Heritage has no objection to the principle of it redevelopment. The site is within the Clapham Junction Conservation Area, and viewable in the context of the Grade II listed Falcon Public House, and the Grade II Listed Arding & Hobbs (now Debenhams) department store. It is proposed to demolish the existing 5 storey building and erect a 16 storey replacement.

English Heritage Advice

The applicant’s Conservation Area and historic building planning appraisal states that the existing building fails to make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area. While English Heritage does not disagree with this statement, by virtue of its scale and massing, we consider the existing structure relatively ‘neutral’ in its impact on the Conservation Area’s character and appearance. However, the proposed replacement building has a considerably larger scale and massing than the existing structure.

We have strong concerns about a building of this size within the context of Clapham Junction Conservation Area. There is no precedent fo a tall building within the area, which is characterised by Victorian and Edwardian architecture no greater than seven storey of height.

The crossroads of St John’s Road/St John’s Hill/Falcon Road/ LavenderHill forms a focal point to the Conservation Area, with the Falcon Public House, the Arding & Hobbes store and 276 Lavender Hill all benefiting from curved facades which reinforce the spatial qualities of the junction. Additional prominence is given to the junction though the use ornamentation at the upper levels of these buildings; a cupola to the department store, a dome to 276 Lavender Hill and a decorative parapet and dormers to the Falcon. The proposed building will be unduly prominent in the context of this junction and diminish its significance and status to the detriment of the Conservation Area’s character and appearance. The proposals will also adversely affect the setting of both the Grade II Listed Falcon Public House and former Arding & Hobbs department store.

Notwithstanding the harm a tall building at this location would cause to Clapham Junction Conservation Area, we also have significant concerns about the design quality of the proposed building. The design and access statement supplied with the application notes that the proposed building has a principal elevation addressing Falcon Road. A suitably detailed elevation to Falcon Road is vital to the quality of the development, but we feel that less consideration has been given to upper levels of the building at its Mossbury Road (Souther elevation). The upper levels of the building will be extremely prominent from the aforementioned crossroads at the heart of this junction and reinforces its status as the focal point of the Conservation Area.

The proposed Eastern elevation of the building also gives cause for concern. While we recognise that the limited amount of fenestration on this elevation is a direct response to the implication of overlooking residential properties on Mossbury Road, this has resulted in a blank façade with little interaction or acknowledgement of its surroundings. While not within the Conservation Area, the Victorian Terraced properties of Mossbury Road contribute to the Conservation Area’s wider setting. The proposed development will introduce a significant visual interjection between the Conservation Area and Mossbury Road, and this should be partially mitigated through a carefully-considered Eastern elevation.

Recommendation

English Heritage considers that the proposals fail to respond to the Conservation Area context, and detract from the character and appearance of the Conservation Area by virtue of inappropriate scale and height. We also consider the proposals to adversely affect the setting of Grade II Listed Falcon Public House and former Arding and Hobbs department store.

We wish to register an objection to this application, and urge the Council to recommend refusal of planning permission.

Simon Hickman
Historic Buildings and Areas Adviser

ENGLISH HERITAGE
London Region

June 4, 2009 at 12:02 pm 1 comment

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