Archive for June 22, 2009

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).
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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


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