The case against ‘regeneration’ and why we need a new plan for Clapham Junction

June 1, 2009 at 11:48 am 18 comments

Author: Kate Williams

In response to comments from ‘architecture rosemont’ on this site, I am sorry if anyone is under the misapprehension that I, or indeed anyone else posting on this forum, is ‘cynically’  opposed to any development taking place in our area. This is simply not the case and as a construction professional, which I am, I would like to think that I am more open than most to the idea of new buildings which truly improve the area.

Perhaps the problem lies in terminology. ‘Regeneration‘ is a word aptly used to describe the process which took place in many Northern cities in the 1980s, whereby whole city centres underwent rebuilding to address appalling problems. I grew up in Hull in the 1970s and 80s, and well remember the no-go areas in the Old Town full of derelict buildings and unsafe alleyways, bomb sites hurriedly reconstructed with dreadful 1960s blocks, and 40% unemployment caused by the failure of the city to attract new industries after the docks closed.  The ‘regeneration’ which took place there opened up public spaces in place of traffic roundabouts, created marinas and shopping centres on old docks, and converted disused warehouses into attractive (council) apartments and thriving business centres.

By contrast, Clapham Junction in 2009 is a thriving, successful town centre attracting families and a steady stream of new shops. There are no ‘no-go’ areas, nor the sort of debilitating unemployment seen in Hull in the 1970s and early 1980s. People move here because they like the atmosphere and the facilities.  Of course these can all be improved and development which is sensitive and acts to enhance what exists already, is absolutely to be welcomed.

As I have posted already, I actually welcome the idea of a hotel which I agree will be well placed to attract business and tourism to the area.  I also applaud the efforts to mirror the style of existing buildings in the choice of materials and agree that the site that has been chosen is perhaps the most in need of improvement in the entire area.

My great concern is that, at 16 stories the building will become a statement which defines the area, rather than simply adding to it. Now that the ‘twin towers’ will not be built (in the immediate future at least), it will be by far the highest building south of the tracks, and will occupy a position at greater elevation and therefore far more prominent than the existing estates to the north. If the Council is to approve a ‘statement’ building as opposed to a mere redevelopment of an unlovely site, then both it and the local population need to be convinced that this is part of some overall plan for the area.

Following Metro’s withdrawal, any plan which existed would appear to be in some disarray, and the 1000+ people who wrote to the Council or signed petitions against high rise development at the station, might be somewhat surprised to see another tall building being given the go-ahead so soon after. We need a period of reflection during which the views of local residents must be canvassed as to the type of development we want to see take place in the area. If this includes high rise, then so be it.  But let us at least have a debate about what level of high rise is thought to be acceptable. To many people, 16 stories will be too high.  To others, this may be acceptable provided it is not exceeded in other buildings proposed in the vicinity. Without such a plan, the fear is that a 16 storey building will be quickly followed by a 20 storey building, and then there will be no answer to two 42 storey buildings being proposed once again. Before we know it, the character of Clapham Junction will have changed for ever, and the ‘regeneration’ which few of us thought was necessary in the first place, will have taken place by stealth.

Lest any of this should be taken as negative, here are my own ideas as to what should be included in a new plan for Clapham Junction:

  • A new station building funded by Network Rail which truly places Clapham Junction on the map as London’s greatest transport interchange.  If this can be done for Birmingham New Street and St Pancras, it can be done for the busiest rail interchange in Europe!
  • New office developments and, yes, a hotel, on the site of the station and areas off Falcon Road which are currently underdeveloped and dowdy.  Such developments should be well designed and should not overwhelm the existing town centre which should be defined as the area south of the station at both junctions of St John’s Road (to include Northcote Road and Battersea Rise).
  • New affordable housing instead of yet more executive apartments on land at Battersea Power Station and along York Road.
  • Attention to the estates north of the tracks in terms of proper community services, arts centres, children’s playgrounds (paralleling those on Wandsworth Common and elsewhere), lighting and open throughfares.
  • A stop to schools being closed and replaced by executive flats! New schools for Northcote and Shaftesbury Wards which are woefully under-provided for leading to more private schools being set up in this area that anywhere else.
  • A medi-centre at Clapham Junction Station in line with those provided now at many main line stations including Victoria;
  • A re-think for plans for Bolingbroke Hospital. Why should we have to travel to St George’s or St Thomas’ for essential emergency care?

I realise that many of these plans are aspirational, but without a sound plan for the area we are left at the mercy of the Council and developers to decide what is best for us. Maybe it is time that the local community took a hand in deciding what is right for the area and what we are prepared to see happen.

Please do send in your comments on this article, including your own ideas for a new plan for Clapham Junction. We know that many Council officers take the trouble to follow this site and expect that many of them will be very interested to know what people think in the run up to next May’s Council elections.

And don’t forget to write to the Council and let them know your view: all contact details available HERE.

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Entry filed under: New Hotel Falcon Road, Tall building policy.

Hotel in Clapham Junction – why we object New Hotel in CJ – Martin Linton’s objection

18 Comments

  • 1. architecturerosemont  |  June 1, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Hi Kate

    I thought it would be useful if I asked the applicants for some comments on your latest blog as many of your points touch on the financial side of the project.

    Tim Glass and Steve Stubbs of Oak comment:

    “Obviously there are degrees of regeneration and while Clapham Junction in 2009 is not Hull c. 1980, there are many who feel it could be a much more uplifting place to be in and could definitely benefit from economic stimulus to use the fashionable term. The people most closely involved in this project have all lived and/or worked in the area for 25 years or more and we don’t accept the idea that it is too good to change.

    It is simply not true that retail in the area is thriving. Setting aside the current difficulties, retail in St. John’s Road and Lavender Hill has struggled for some time. Arding & Hobbs went bust. Other retailers have moved out and some have been replaced by cheap item shops. Of course these have their place but they are not an indication of thriving retail, nor do they expand the local economy. Lavender Hill itself has become full of estate agent offices and restaurants. The same comments apply to these to a greater or lesser extent. The retailers who remain on Lavender Hill struggle, we can say with certainty. Woolworths is now gone and if Marks and Spencer were to leave, St.John’s Road would suffer badly.

    The success story of the area is perhaps Northcote Road but it is a different location entirely and benefits from the market. This has had the effect of drawing some business away from the Junction. The benefits to the immediate vicinity of 100 to 200 people staying the night in an hotel would be considerable and might help to make some businesses viable that are currently struggling in the area. At least they would surely bring additional money into the area, money that would otherwise be spent elsewhere and this is an important element of regeneration or improvement to the local economy.

    The idea of a medical centre is a good one. At the same time it is important that there is a balance between economically productive uses and community benefits. Whichever they are, they have to be paid for. Affordable housing is something everyone can agree is necessary but it too has to be paid for. Similarly offices have to be financially viable and there is little demand in the area for them. It is significant that the only two office occupiers in the immediate area have been public sector and now that the government in the shape of the Job Centre have pulled out, there is no new demand for sizeable offices in the vicinity. This was the case before the current downturn.

    As to the idea of turning Clapham Junction into an appealing area at least partly given over to community benefits, it will never happen. Network Rail would not even be able to provide a scheme on an entirely commercial basis. It does not have the capability and it will certainly not be able to raise the money. One of the consequence of the current economic mess is that public sector borrowing will be severely curtailed for many years. The area has been in the hands of the public sector for decades and it is not realistic to expect the public sector to do something now about a location it has neglected for so long.

    The proposed hotel is the size it is for no other reason than anything smaller would not be viable and in current circumstances, that is touch and go. The council’s requirements that the building be lower at the back means that the front has to be higher. The choice is between this hotel or none in the immediate area which is generally agreed to be a good one as it so close to the station.

    While it is 16 storeys high, it is not tall by the standards of most buildings that are called ‘tall’ in London. The Clapham Junction station scheme was 26 stories higher and it is unlikely that that scheme has passed entirely into history. The council and former blocks on the other side of the tracks are taller by a couple of storeys, so the hotel would neither set a precedent nor necessarily be a step towards even taller buildings. We have also gone to great lengths to ensure that the proposed building does not adversely affect the adjoining residential buildings, especially in terms of daylight/sunlight, and to avoid a building that is too bulky and overbearing.

    The building may not be to everyone’s liking but it is clear from comments that at least some people see it as a positive thing. It is an attempt to produce an attractive and viable building for which there is demand and which will justify its existence at least in part by bringing broader benefits to the immediate area.”

    Returning to my own opinions I would not disagree with some of the aspirations in your wish list. Through my involvement in public/private/voluntary partnerships I believe in the broad approach to community involvement. The list however admirable is however beyond the remit of this planning application, and I would expect the public purse at present. We have here an investor who is prepared to make a contribution to the local economy now. That is better than public sector baleouts of the private sector which are costing us all a great deal of money and will do so for some considerable time to come.

  • 2. architecturerosemont  |  June 1, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    We have added a post at

    http://www.newhotelclaphamjunction.wordpress.com

    regarding demand for hotels in the area and justifying our opinions that the new hotel will provide neede facilities to business and private guests as well as bringing spin off business to other business in the area.

  • 3. Cyril Richert  |  June 1, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Re- comment from Tim Glass and Steve Stubbs of Oak>
    I was expecting an argumentation for explaining the case for regeneration in CJ. Instead I was stunned to discover the UK financial crisis started in Northcote Road and area (according to the developers).

    “The retailers who remain on Lavender Hill struggle […] Woolworths is now gone”> I always thought it was a national consequence of the economic turmoil. Do I have to understand that this is because CJ needs regeneration that Woolworths has gone?

    “Marks and Spencer were to leave”> Here again I would have thought it was a consequence of the difficulties of M&S in the country for some years. And probably nothing to do either with the fact that Waitrose (a very small shop, struggling to survive?) has decided that St Johns Road was a very place to open?

    “there is no new demand for sizeable offices in the vicinity”>Last year I know some people were looking for some business-centre rooms in the area… without any success… it is probably another proof that there is no demand.

    “it is not tall by the standards of most buildings that are called ‘tall’ in London”>Should we call that a very small building (in comparison to Canada Tower in Canary Wharf?). Why comparing only to London? Why not comparing to Hong Kong or Dubai?

    “The proposed hotel is the size it is for no other reason than anything smaller would not be viable”>Yes, the developers for Nine Elms said also that without their 250m tower, the Power Station might be doomed. Recent event gave evidence that they easily found a better solution after their initial plans were refused.

    “The Clapham Junction station scheme was 26 stories higher”>Yes, indeed, past tense. So is it still appropriate to compare with it?

  • 4. architecturerosemont  |  June 2, 2009 at 10:22 am

    It is hard to have a sensible debate about important issues when one commentator produces only exaggeration, sarcasm and ridicule, as well as scaremongering false images out of the propaganda cupboard.

    When campaigning to become a political councillor, it is unlikely that Mr. Richert stands on a platform of ‘Let’s change nothing and leave everything as it is’. A candidate on that “dream” ticket would not expect success. Most people can agree that things might be improved, particularly in Clapham Junction. The question is what form this change should take.

    If Mr Richert is serious about becoming a politician he should remember that inner city areas in particular need constant reinvention and reinvestment if they are to stand any chance of standing still, let alone improving. For this to stand a chance of working the right climate has to be provided, thus attracting the commitment of residents, local businesses and organizations, as well as investors. Economic and cultural vitality do not come from the status quo.

    In the case of this borough a series of local partnerships has for some time existed, with umbrella partnerships at borough level. These partnerships comprise a very wide range of representatives, some of them elected, and offer fora where local issues may be discussed. They are all open to the public and advertised, but it seems a sad factor of modern life that many complain that they don’t know what’s going on. Maybe they are too busy rushing to and from their work and looking at their computer screens. It’s not obvious that Mr Richert has ever involved himself in the work of the local town centre partnership.

    It’s also not certain what the Clapham Junction Action Group is setting out to be. Initially it seemed to be formed in response to the station planning application but is it spreading its wings and offering all sorts of ideas and policies covering not just local planning issues but advice on wider issues. That’s fine but what is its role in comparison to the CJTCP which does have as its members a full range of local interests? As an organization does CJAG have a structure and agree comments and policies or is it a mouthpiece for a small group with a particular agenda? There’s no point in having an agreed structure and then setting out to by pass it. That inevitably leads to confusion, and can lead to stagnation with catastrophic long term consequences. Maybe CJAG should be in CJTCP. Local politicians and the Battersea Society already are, as well as the more diverse membership.

    On the hotel planning application one might argue about the strength of our points or their relative importance but they are valid and just to pour scorn on them, from an apparently poor knowledge base, shows no attempt to address the issues. Clapham Junction does struggle as a retail area, it has been affected by national trends recently of course, but its difficulties preceded the current ones, as Arding & Hobbs previous demise demonstrates, and the fact is that very few ‘true’ retailers have survived on Lavender Hill. The trend is not universally in one direction of course and it is simplistic to say that one big retailer opening in the area reverses the whole trend. To distort the point about Northcote Road, which is very different, does Mr. Richert no credit. Ridicule is not argument.

    One could as easily argue that the regeneration of Falcon Road south of the rail bridge could lead in time to the improvement of the dire retail areas on Falcon Way as well as the Asda site. North of the railway bridge but outside the town centre the remaining retail frontages of Falcon Road could equally benefit in the very long term. There are many dynamic opportunities in and near a town centre.

    Mr Richert’s references to other parts of London, or indeed the world are not relevant to the debate about Clapham Junction.

    The status of the Clapham Junction station scheme is by no means clear as the developer may come back, and the proposed grounds of refusal did not include any on excessive height of the proposed buildings, which were 26 storeys higher than the proposed hotel. Time will tell.

  • 5. architecturerosemont  |  June 2, 2009 at 10:27 am

    On the subject of local office supply one is perhaps in a better position to remember the history of office development in the immediate area than Mr Richert. Clapham Junction has never been considered a suitable location for major office development in my forty years experience in the borough. There was a rash of B1 development in the borough in the late 80s which was done on the back of cheap money and poor judgment. The majority of such space remained empty for long periods and eventually most of it got converted into residential after the developers and many of the architects and builders went bust. At Clapham Junction itself there was little such development other than where prelets to known tenants existed as the institutions would not invest in such projects as they had well justified fears in long term rents. The reality is that many local developers lost their shirts at the time and the industry remembers such things. In any event at the present the office market is in absolutely dire state and many loan maturities coming up may lead to wholesale failure of such projects. To offer the statement “I know someone who was unable to find an office in the area”, as does Mr Richert, is not evidence of substantial demand. There’s a huge difference between a short term lease on a small amount of space and long term funding of development of modern specification space.

    We do of course accept that there are other views than our own, and we are trying to make the case to support ours, drawing on our experience and knowledge of the area, which exceeds that of many other developers and architects. We are happy to have the debate but not to enter a bickering contest. Mud slinging may work in politics, and we know that the public has an opportunity to express their views this week, but it is no substitute for properly informed debate about the future of our communities.

  • 6. Cyril Richert  |  June 2, 2009 at 10:33 am

    architecturerosemont > It is hard to have a sensible debate about important issues when one commentator keep a patronising tone in his comments, while being the only one not acknowledging faithfully the effort and accuracy of presentation of its scheme and the debate spreading on this website.

    PS: becoming a Councillor? What a nice idea 😉 (You are right, ad hominem attacks work better than genuine discussions… for some people 😉 )

    PPS: and BTW, as you noticed here, the CJAG is denying any opinion but its own to express! 😀

  • 7. Cyril Richert  |  June 2, 2009 at 10:38 am

    architecturerosemont: “We do of course accept that there are other views than our own“> Really? Oh, nice to hear then. How did you say above… “Ridicule” was the word you used…

  • 8. Kate Williams  |  June 2, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    I’m not even going to bother reading posts 4 to 7 through – it’s all very childish.

    However, to answer architecturerosemont’s central accusation, CJAG is not a political group, and is not standing on any political agenda. We are merely concerned local residents – as we have every right to be. 1000+ people happen to agree that they do not want towers in the vicinity either. The battle against the twin towers may have been won, but until a proper policy on tall buildings is instituted by the Council, we will have failed to win the war.

    You cannot have it both ways and accuse us of being nimby pastiche lovers stuck in the past, and then complain when we offer forward positive proposals for the type of improvements we would like to see!

    It would be so lovely to hear from others on the site, and hope that they are not being put off by this unnecessarily agressive spat.

  • 9. architecturerosemont  |  June 2, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    I didn’t say that CJAG was a political group; I was just trying to determine its structure and relationship with other already existing groups who have representation on local organisations.

    Architects and applicants need to know about the local groups, I agree. We asked the Council who the key local groups were and were told the Battersea Society, The Wandsworth Society and the Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership. We contacted each and then did other consultation too.

    There was no mention of any other local groups. Further of the consultations that were done the adverse comments were very few and indeed we had more support than objection, especially at the TCP, where there were many people.

    Following on from that the professional team developed the design and the client spent a large amount of money getting the scheme to planning application stage. That is the logical way to proceed.

    During that process we had an exhibition when nearby residents and businesses were invited, as well as councillors and other politicians.

    Although some people are complaining that they have not been consulted, or knew nothing about the scheme, we would in fact submit that we have done a great deal more than many applicants. Clearly on larger schemes, such as the station, one would expect a larger consultation than on this site.

    We did in fact issue several press releases too but only a few publications published. They were probably concentrating on the political revelations.

    Perhaps the content of this website has been heated, but we have the right to comment when we see things with which we do not agree and especially so in the case of misrepresentation.

    At the same time the public have the right to comment on the scheme and it’s evident that they are not shy of doing so. We retain the right of defence.

  • 10. Julia Matcham  |  June 2, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    David,
    Quote: There was no mention of any other local groups. Further of the consultations that were done the adverse comments were very few and indeed we had more support than objection, especially at the TCP, where there were many people. Following on from that the professional team developed the design and the client spent a large amount of money getting the scheme to planning application stage. That is the logical way to proceed.

    Speaking personally I had never heard of the groups YOU refer to, who appear to have been comfortably doing what you almost suggest we have no right to. They were working out what they wanted. They were at your tiller (and/or that of others too), having their own ideas and half steering your boat. A very agreeable way to work. I am not against that. We should all be contributing ideas. As a group, yes, we have in a way sprung from nowhere, and have educated ourselves about how things work. We have only just got over a fight to stop what we know we don’t want And now quite naturally we are all thinking about what we would like….despite the fact that you are saying the alternative to high rise, is nothing at all. We don’t believe that.

    The Battersea Society, of which I am a member, also pursues objectives which are likely to coincide with our own. It just happens that this issue in particular fired a lot of people into more action than, dare I say it, was likely to be forthcoming from the Battersea Society which handles very well a myriad of issues. We (the Action Group) have (at present) only ONE issue: we don’t want high rise blocks at Clapham Junction.

    Re the composition of the Action Group, I would say it was the spontaneous product of the sudden awareness of concerned people (who had not had any way of knowing what was going on until the last minute) that Clapham Junction was quite possibly going to be sold out to developers by the Council…effectively. That, plus, we could see that some serious self interest from Network Rail was making all participants lick their lips in anticipation, and it has taken an enormous amount of the unpaid time of many people (particularly Cyril and Kate) to at least buy some time for a more thoughtful approach to the situation.

    Quote: (re CJ) we don’t accept the idea that it is too good to change…

    No-one said that. But the word ‘regeneration’ is ridiculously over-playing your hand. Indeed one wonders how a new shopping centre would fare. All looked pretty on the drawings, but really, space for approx 50 retail units. Imagine what desolation that could result in…anyway that issue is off the table at the moment.

    Quote: The council and former blocks on the other side of the tracks are taller by a couple of storeys, so the hotel would neither set a precedent nor necessarily be a step towards even taller buildings.

    And the people who live there would live anywhere else if they afford to. Try calling Help Help to a tower block. That area is blighted by their situation. At night no-one would walk across from there to the Community Centre.

    I agree with Cyril your tone is patronizing. You have 40 years experience and I am sure you are as well informed as you sound, and as part of some inner circle that the likes of us are not privy too … but some things are simple.
    We simply do not want tower-blocks at Clapham Junction.

  • 11. Cyril Richert  |  June 2, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Julia> Just a little bit more explanation.

    Regarding the Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership, this is a business organisation, made by people from businesses around (some organisations such as the BatSoc applied) invited by the Council (a sort of gentlemen’s club if I may say so). David Rosemont should know that as he was nominated (not elected as he likes to present it) chair of the Wandsworth Partnership.
    I know that some members would like to open it to other organisations, and surely the CJAG would considerate it if approached.

    Re- David Rosemont (surely he will correct me if I’m wrong) is not the architect of the scheme but employed/hired (whatever) by the developers to push it through the process and lobby the Council to have the scheme approved.

  • 12. architecturerosemont  |  June 3, 2009 at 6:38 am

    I am surprised to hear you say that the the Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership is a “business” organisation. Although I cannot speak on their behalf I know it to be comprised of a range of members, many of whom have no business connections, but each of them known to be involved in the town centre. There are councillor members as well, infact its chaired by a councillor, and councillors are elected representatives. The Battersea Society is represented as well. I am not sure of the constitution or policy regarding members of the public speaking at their meetings but my experience elsewhere is that we allowed it by invitation of the chairman.

    If you feel that you should be represented why don’t you ask them. They are not a “gentlemens club” as you suggest but generally people spending in many cases a considerable amount of their time working for the local community at nil renumeration. Many of them having been doing it for a long time. If some of them have a business background I would say that is a good thing, as communities stall without the business voice being heard.

    With regard to the Wandsworth Challenge Partnership I was invited to be a member as at the time I was vice chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, worked locally and I had an interest in regeneration, including having graduated from an organisation called Common Purpose, which works to improve government through partnerships between the government, voluntary and private sectors. It was then proposed that I be Chairman, by election, and I was then in fact re-elected every year for the life time duration of the project.

    The composition of our partnership included perhaps more organisations that at the Junction, and certainly included residents groups as well. It was generally very well attended throughout the liife time of the partnership and many good people gave freely of their time. After that time the Single Regeneration Budget funding ended and the partnership morphed into the current Wandsworth Town Centre Partnership.

    I should also point out that I worked voluntarily to help secure SRB funding for Wandsworth, and also for Business Link funding.

    With regard to my involvement with the hotel project I work as a consultant to the architects Husband and Carpenter Architects Ltd. I have previously undertaken projects for the client, although in other boroughs, over a period exceeding ten years.

    Since inception of the project I have been involved in every aspect of the project, including design. As consultant I am of course paid. Any planning applications these days need to application of resources on a broad front, you don’t just dream up a project and then submit it for approval. We are required to have community involvement, we welcome it and we do it.

    One of the reasons that town centre partnerships exist is to give some sort of definition to local policies through community involvement. Likely investors in an area see them as useful too as they express a certain will on behalf of the local community to invite inwards investment. Where disharmony and difficulty proliferate the investors tend to go away, even when the economy is sound. I would hope that the role of your town centre partnership is to provide a forum to see that worthwhile projects are brought to conclusion for the general benefit of all members of the local community.

  • 13. architecturerosemont  |  June 5, 2009 at 9:57 am

    One of the most depressing things to read are often letters of objection to almost any planning application made these days; the UK is without doubt the nation that has taken nimbyism to enormous and venomous heights. We have noticed that amongst your objectors are serial letter writers on subjects ranging from Mugabe to politics. Battersea seems to be taking over from Tunbridge Wells.

    Similarly some people are apparently so contented with their lot that they are quite happy with the status quo and prefer a sort of theme park Britain. I’ll be honest I never imagined Clapham Junction in that category, even having spent most of my life in and around it, although not in the £1million plus per house streets where many of the objectors pen their letters from.

    Interestingly I also lived in one of the local “concrete monsters” lambasted by many objectors to the twin towers and found it actually rather a convenient and pleasant place to be. You are probably rather more likely to be a victim off knife crime in one of those quiet Victorian streets (bring back the Hovis ads) as both my sons have been within the last two years.

    Further many objectors scorn developers as being only interested in ripping off the public (seems like lots of other people are at it these days) and the profit motive is even ridiculed by local residents who spend their days working in City banks. A case of the pot calling the kettle black squared methinks. We know about your bonuses but what about our pensions and share investments? Can we have those back please? The greed in some parts of the banking sector was directly responsible for the recession and the crisis in the economy. As a result the delivery of affordable housing, schools and health projects has stalled. You can’t blame the architects for that one, although somebody will no doubt find a reason.

    The fact is the country is in a huge mess, not just financially but in terms of missing optimism, and likely to remain so for some time. The development and building industry is one of the largest in the country and its resources are underused at present. It’s one way to get the economy going quickly and a healthy economy benefits all members of the community.

    There is a new initiative by the British Property Federation which deserves further attention in areas designated for regeneration and its supported by lots of organisations of different background and political persuasion. On the face of it it makes tax advantages in areas designated for regeneration and frees the flow of funds.

    Details may be seen at:

    http://www.bpf.org.uk/newsroom/pressreleases/document/23660/manifesto-to-kick-start-crippled-regeneration

    In the case of the station and Clapham Junction Town Centre there’s a catch- an area needs to be designated for regeneration. If, as some locals seem to indicate, regeneration of the town centre is not needed, and is indeed opposed, it’s not at all clear where funds for the station and the Exemplar Project are coming from.

    My belief is that the Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership should be actively seeking to free the impasse on the station and it’s no good just taking a reactive approach. If developers come with schemes and are apparently actively encouraged, and then the whole thing fails, it’s a huge waste of resources and sends out all the wrong signals.

    The larger schemes are the most important but the mentality affects the whole town centre and all sorts of levels of investment.

    If all local schemes are put on hold because planning permission can’t be obtained, for whatever reason, its pretty difficult to see where the funding is coming from, as there won’t be any Section 106 agreement payments to pay for those projects that the local public ask their politicians to provide.

    I offer these thoughts as an indication of our wish to make a positive contribution to the debate.

    The design and detail of buildings will still be debated, but if there are no viable projects then it would seem that the alternative is stagnation and wasting the opportunities that the great majority in fact wish to see taken. I know you obtained about a thousand objectors to the twin towers, but they didn’t all object to the idea of improvement and regeneration, and anyway there are about 270000 other people who live in the borough who didn’t object and the people of work in or visit the borough as well.

    We have been called complacent on this website. In reality I believe that we have shown that we are prepared to debate the real issues and both the applicants the architects have demonstrated a willingness to make a contribution to the local debate and economy.

  • 14. Cyril Richert  |  June 5, 2009 at 10:34 am

    architecturerosemont> “serial letter writers“, “knife crime“, “ripping off the public“, “local residents who spend their days working in City banks“… seems like a much hatred message.

    If developers come with schemes and are apparently actively encouraged, and then the whole thing fails, it’s a huge waste of resources and sends out all the wrong signals.” I cannot agree more on that. However we need to wonder who is encouraging developers. The Council? The town planner applying the core strategy defined by the Council? That is why we are calling for a review of this document, and the necessity to give developers clearer guidelines.

    Incidentally you must have noticed the current redevelopment of Nine Elms.
    In December 2008, Rob Tincknell, managing director of Treasury Holdings, presenting the project to Boris Johnson, said: “it is either the go-ahead for the glass tower, or the power station may be doomed“.
    In the Wandsworth Guardian yesterday he said: “The [eco dome] scheme was the wrong time, the transport system wasn’t right and the plan was massively over-designed“. So, for a much needed and debated regeneration plan, the initial plans were not only reviewed but abandoned for a much reasonable development apparently.

    And BTW, you said: “there are about 270000 other people who live in the borough who didn’t object“. Was there a referendum organised by the Council on the all borough? Did the Council/developers consult specifically each of the 270,000 people? How many objection do you want? In the street? In the ward? in the borough? In the country (some support from the towers came from Liverpool and Belfast)? In the world? You shouldn’t mock +1000 of local residents feeling concern with the future of their neighbourhood.

  • 15. architecturerosemont  |  June 5, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Actually Cyril I took the stereotypical views about developers and architects off your site or the letters of objection. No “hatred” involved on my part just a view about people’s actions and opinions to which I am surely entitled! One also understands that objectors are more likely to go into print than supporters; its a well known fact.

    Developers and architects research policy documents before preparing proposals. There’s a clear democratic route by drafts, consulation, committees of elected persons and adoption. In the case of Clapham Junction town centre a tall buildings policy was adopted after such a process and exists.

    I notice your points about the power station but each site is different. Their current proposal is for about 23 storeys (of which there are very many existing in the borough) and of course lot’s of other design considerations, so we will have to see how it goes. I notice that there is possibly a theoretical shortfall on normal affordable housing provision. I notice also that the American application is up to 90 metres tall.

    I am not a general apologee for super tall buildings in any event, having done none, and in point of fact I have done very few even tall buildings. However the applicants and designers were guided by policy in this instance.

    No there was no referendum on a tall buildings policy in Wandsworth. The British way is that councillors are elected and the public has the right to lobby them between elections. Was there a referendum about intrusive CCTV cameras everywhere- no. Was there a referendum about dog chipping – no. Was there a referendum about hunting- no. Was there a referendum about increased parking charges- no. There was no recent referendum on the European project or immigration either. Government is not run by referenda, as the present government found to its cost on English regional government. Putting everything to referenda would probably freeze government but it does not stop you sounding out opinions according to an established procedure and process.

  • 16. Cyril Richert  |  June 5, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    architecturerosemont> About Nine Elms, I take you point. But I was just showing that developers can evolve – even after planning application is first refused – for the better.

    About referendum, I was just responding to your claim mocking 1000 locals over 270000. I am not a referendum-groupie.

  • 17. architecturerosemont  |  June 5, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Yes of course developers can evolve, it just depends on each circumstance. Every project and circumstance has its threshold of viability.

    As it’s Friday I note that you didn’t include architects in the possibility of evolution! An objector once sent me a drawing of the stages of evolution of man with the word “architect” written below the most primitive stage. On that project I am happy to relate we were successful!

    Statistics are a lovely area- I think that we will have plenty of those from the commentators and politicians over the weekend and, increasingly, in coming months.

  • 18. Kate Williams  |  June 5, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I am sorry to have delayed so long in responding to previous posts here. Sadly my day job does get rather in the way sometimes!

    As I hope is clear by now, I am personally all in favour of enhancing the Clapham Junction area through appropriate development, and since this happens to be my back yard I do not think I could be accused of any nimbyism! I am not sure where you get the idea of pastiche from, but I would rather have a well designed modern building any day to the type of pastiche displayed in the current station complex from the 1980s.

    Indeed, if I have an agenda at all, it is for a far more extensive redevelopment of the station as a station, to address the overcrowding and unsafe conditions on the platforms, and in the underpass. What the area really requires is not a shopping centre or yet more executive flats, but a proper station building which places Clapham Junction truly on the map as a premier transport interchange and from which other development will surely flow. Such a redevelopment of the site could provide multiple accesses to platforms via both underpass and extended overpasses, platform lengthening and straightening, and enhanced passenger facilities such as ticketing, shelters and, yes, shops and cafes. My objection to Metro’s proposals stemmed only partly from the totally inappropriate height of the residential buildings, but moreover from the fact that redevelopment of the site as a shopping centre and residential complex completely overlooked this unique opportunity to redevelop the site for the purposes for which it was intended.

    You say that such a development is unrealistic, and would never happen due to funding constraints and lack of commercial pay back. I simply do not believe this. For ten years I worked on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Project which included the complete restoration and extension of St Pancras Station. The St Pancras element alone cost around £1 billion. This project was funded by a Public Private Partnership, initially with Railtrack as underwriter but later subject to Government underwriting. Although it was always recognised that there would be little public payback from the investment, it was still deemed necessary to bring UK rail infrastructure up to European standards. It also acted as a vanguard to the other major projects which have followed, including the West Coast Main Line upgrade and the station modernisation programme.

    Currently Network Rail intends to launch a new 10-year modernisation programme for stations including a proposal for £4 billion of private-partner investment. The programme will increase capacity at stations, improve passenger facilities and provide opportunities for new, high quality commercial development. Since the public sector will be participating in this investment, there should be a reduced need for developers to propose schemes of the overwhelming scale of Metro’s proposal (which had nothing to do with this programme but sought to redevelop the site for pure commercial purposes). A multi purpose development should give ultimate space to rail passengers, but could easily accommodate retail and office space within a far more modest structure as at Birmingham New Street.

    It is this opportunity that Wandsworth Council should be pursuing at full speed. Now that Metro is no longer handing Network Rail its ‘get out of jail’ pass, they should be making it clear that Clapham Junction deserves to be amongst the first tranche of stations set for redevelopment. Public sector funding would need to be significant to establish a proper station building where none currently exists, but beyond this, there would be opportunities for the private sector to be involved through operating franchises and appropriate commercial uses.

    The future of Clapham Junction station is absolutely central to the consideration of future development around it, such as Oak Trading’s current proposal for a hotel. By allowing developers to dictate the height and style of buildings which are deemed necessary for the proposal to have commercial value, the Council are effectively absolving the public sector from any responsibility for the area. Sure as night follows day, Metro, or some other commercial developer, will come along and propose yet another outsize commercial development on the site of the station, and Network Rail will be content to allow them if this means they can prioritise funding elsewhere.

    We need to fight for our community here, and this means that the Council and Mr Linton must hold a more meaningful dialogue with Network Rail. A modern and stylish station like Birmingham New Street would be the ultimate prize for area and the surest means of bringing about the improvement of surrounding areas.


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