Archive for August, 2009

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August 26, 2009 at 8:57 am

Justine Greening’s view on planning: involve local communities

Justine Greening, MP for Putney and Shadow London minister, is writing to us:

Dear Cyril,

As you’ve seen, we’ve got our developers in Putney too! I think the best way forward is if I put you in touch to meet up with Jane Ellison our Conservative candidate for Battersea. […]

I am a firm believer that we need to make planning as local as possible to communities because they’re best placed to know what will work. If developers ever contact me then I always tell them to consult as much as possible with the community – after all the people who are likely to buy their developments are going to probably like the area and therefore be pretty much like the people who already live there, so finding out what the community wants is actually the best way of making sure that when we get more housing and regeneration it actually works, is something people will want to move into, and that’s in everyone’s interest.

Nationally, on the Conservative side we were against the recent Planning Bill that went through earlier this year, precisely because it took planning further away from local communities – its the one process that people do tend to get involved in. Though Ministers have had top down targets on housing I think the lessons from trying that approach have been that however badly we need to get more housing (and we do have an acute need), you can’t just ram through targets because it just sends a green light out to developers to max out their plots of land whatever the inappropriateness of the design and then communities and their councils vote down development anyway, so we’ve ended up much less new housing nationally than we could have with a planning process that allows communities to have their own debate and reach a more balanced view that works for them.

We’ve got a further policy paper coming out with more ideas shortly, but running through a lot of what we’re saying is that people should be able to better decide for themselves.

I hope that helps and I’ve no doubt Jane will be in touch!

Best Wishes,

Justine

August 24, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Planning: HiQ Tyreservices – Chatham Road

Author: Julia Matcham

Tyre Services-photoThe Council has published the documents for redevelopment of the site called “HiQ Tyreservices” (76 – 80 Chatham Road SW11, off Northcote Road) involving demolition of existing commercial building and construction of 9 residential units, 4 with internal garages and three additional off street parking spaces and cycle parking and 1 retail unit (use class A1).

The loss of HiQ TYRESERVICES in Chatham Road will be another nail in the coffin of a coherent local community with local facilities.

This development is puny in comparison with the giant blocks we have been fighting against at Clapham Junction but still important. ‘HiQ Tyreservices’, is described by the applicants on the Council’s website as a ‘tyre warehouse’. In fact it is a large garage that does repairs and MOTs. It occupies a big ground area and it is not surprising that the owner of the site (the garage is leasehold) has put in a planning application for redeveloping the site, something the manager of the garage only found out about when he saw the yellow notice posted on the opposite lamppost !

I guess it is impossible to stop developers seeing every large space they set their sights on as a potential row of houses and a pot of gold, regardless of the usefulness of the business currently standing on it. It is money asking to be made. Buy the site, buy the lease. develop, sell … bank the money! Why don’t we all do it!

The loss of a garage will be a serious blow to many local residents as there are fewer and fewer such facilities in the area.

While it is impossible to stop such behaviour, the Council is in a position to make the incentive less remunerative than the developers would like. It could be that the sale of the garage lease to the site owner is not a done-deal and depends on how much money the developer stands to make IF given planning permission.

The application is for 9 residential units AND a shop. 5×3 bed plus 4×2 bed units.

The way the houses (units) are crammed in is a credit to the architect’s ingenuity.

The proposal seems to me, and I hope will seem so to the Council, a preposterous overdevelopment. The façade of Tyreservices is three houses wide, but the ground area at the back is big (absolutely ideal for a local garage!).

Tyre Services  - elevationClick on the image to see it bigger

The planned units in a long row at the back seem to be based on the minimum legal requirement for the size of rooms, although the plans are not clear re- this. There are no gardens.

Tyre Services 9 res unitsThe total of 7 parking spaces proposed (3 outside and 4 inside) are not likely to represent the needs of approx 23 new residents plus whatever needs the retail shop may generate.

Hopefully the Council will reject this application.

Anyone similarly minded please email : boroughplanner@wandsworth.gov.uk (more details HERE) re – application 2009/2518 as soon as possible.

August 24, 2009 at 10:49 am 4 comments

Tileman scheme rejected: too high

Author: Cyril Richert

Following the recommendation of the planning officer on the planning proposal for Tileman House in Putney, the council has refused permission in its meeting yesterday.

Planning applications chairman Leslie McDonnell said:

At fifteen storeys the main block would be higher than any other development in the area. The proposed scheme would also sit uncomfortably alongside the existing buildings in Upper Richmond Road.

“The committee accepted the principle of development at this location. The existing buildings are unattractive, offering outdated office accommodation and contributing little to the street scene.

“However if a scheme is to work here it needs to better reflect the heights of the existing buildings in this part of Putney.

We welcome the decision which comes as a volte-face from previous point of view expressed by the 3 councillors of the area.

More information on the Council’s website.

UPDATE 24 Aug. 2009:
We received some feedback from John Horrocks (Putney Society) who attended the meeting:

Unusually, Councillor Edward Lister came to the meeting to tell the Committee about his concerns regarding a building of this height on this site. As one would have expected, this meant that none of the majority group expressed a contrary view. Or the minority group, either!

The modest ‘debate’ on the application was enlivened by an interesting exchange between Councillor Belton and Councillor Lister on the issue of the council’s Core Strategy policy on tall buildings and whether this is being applied appropriately across different parts of the borough. The application of the policy by the council does raise some interesting questions. The council’s tall buildings policy does seem rather flakey at the moment. Perhaps it will improve as time passes?!

August 21, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Tall building policy – proposal

Author: Cyril Richert

In view of the consultation on the new Local Development Framework (LDF) and the Core Strategy document (which sets out the the Council’s vision on the development of the borough for the next 15 years – more explanation here), we are working with the Battersea, Wandsworth and Putney Societies to submit a global comment on the “tall” building policy.

As promised, we are displaying the following draft, and wish you to participate to the debate by leaving your view/comment (form at the bottom of the article).

The final document will be officially submitted at the end of the month of August.

Core Strategy

Wandsworth Borough Council

Subject: “Tall” buildings

The Wandsworth, Putney and Battersea Societies represent the northern half of the borough. We are responding to the Inspector’s concerns about Wandsworth Council’s “Tall” buildings policy IS3(d.

The Societies believe this policy to be fundamentally flawed and contradictory of other planning policies. We are opposed to it, and wish to see straightforward, clear statements of policy which determine a core strategy understood by the Council and prospective developers alike.

A synopsis of the Societies’ views are as follows.

“Tall” buildings, those significantly taller than their neighbourhood, must be considered in their urban context. Proposals for such buildings should not simply attempt to show that they do not harm matters of planning importance but that they contribute positively to the character, appearance and quality of the Borough and surrounding London hinterland.

“Tall” buildings must stand up too to scrutiny in terms of need, appropriate location, architectural quality in their own right and their contribution to urban design.

Wandsworth Borough is neither a city nor a commercial centre but largely urban and residential. We identify the following policy constraints by which Planning Permission for “Tall” buildings would be refused.

  • TB1 Conservation Areas where historic environmental considerations and character are of significance
  • TB2 Buffer zones to Conservation Areas where a building would have an adverse effect upon a view or setting or focal point within a Conservation Area
  • TB3 Transport where proposals are further than 400 metres from a major transport node and there is insufficient access to public transport
  • TB4 Residential where a proposal will be within or adjacent to a residential area and have an adverse impact on the public and private realm
  • TB5 Views and Open Spaces where a proposal will have an adverse effect (a) locally and (b) in a wider London context upon open spaces, views, historic buildings and their settings.

Along with the above specific planning issues, the following matters which arise from the gist of Wandsworth Council’s “Tall” buildings policy and our knowledge and experience of the Council’s aims for the future of the Borough, also need consideration when drawing up a policy for “Tall” Buildings.

  • ‘Landmark’, ‘signature’, ‘iconic’ or similarly described buildings should not be encouraged for their own sake, except in areas clearly identifiable as having opportunity and not in conflict with 1-5 above.
  • Economics (aka Regeneration) should not be a planning factor determining the future of a site including such issues as site purchase costs.

Further consideration should also be given to sustainability issues for any building but especially for “Tall” buildings. Any “Tall” building must prove to be sustainable in terms, for example, of its negative carbon footprint, judged by construction, maintenance, services infrastructure, traffic and transport over its lifetimLastly, the Societies are most concerned that:

i) should individual boroughs adopt ad hoc strategic policies about “Tall” buildings, their impact could be far reaching, leading inevitably to an insidious, thin spread across London’s suburbs of individual tall buildings or loose clusters of them as one locality mimics another, raising the built skyline;

ii) that policies on Conservation Areas and the protection of Listed Buildings and their settings, townscape and the wider built environment should be reinforced. Whilst existing policies are sound and currently supported by Governments strategic objectives in PPG’s, they can be disregarded without arguments for doing so being subject to vigorous analysis.

That is why, the Wandsworth, Putney and Battersea Societies require clear constraints to restrict “Tall” buildings as has been presented.

You will find other articles on the core strategy debate on the website:

August 20, 2009 at 8:00 am 12 comments

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea: policy on tall buildings

Author: Cyril Richert

It is very interesting to read the policy on tall buildings proposed in The Draft Core Strategy for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea:

Introduction

4.1 English Heritage and CABE’s ‘Guidance on tall buildings’ encourages local planning authorities to include specific policies for tall buildings in development plans clearly identifying, in map-based form, areas which are appropriate, sensitive or inappropriate for tall buildings (para. 2.4 and 2.6). The London Plan also states that boroughs may wish to identify defined areas of specific character that could be sensitive to tall buildings within their development plans (Policy 4B.9).

4.2 The London Plan indicates that boroughs should explain what aspects of local character tall buildings could affect and ‘not impose unsubstantiated borough-wide height restrictions’ (Policy 4B.9). Furthermore, English Heritage and CABE’s Guidance on tall buildings recommends that local authorities should carry out a detailed urban design study when assigning appropriate and inappropriate areas for tall buildings. The urban design study should identify the elements that create local character, such as streetscape, scale, height, urban grain, natural topography as well as significant views.

4.3 In line with the London Plan and English Heritage and CABE’s joint guidance this analysis identifies appropriate, sensitive or inappropriate areas for tall buildings based on a detailed urban design and character study. This has been done through two converging approaches:

  • a sieve analysis designed to protect sensitive areas and views, and
  • a proactive assessment of where tall buildings could benefit the locality, improve sustainability and enhance the city image.

Summary

Identification of inappropriate, sensitive and appropriate areas for tall buildings

5.1 This supplementary planning document provides policy guidance on the planning and development of tall buildings within the Royal Borough. It is in direct response to the considerable importance placed by this Council, the Greater London Authority and central government on delivering sustainable development, and to the role that high quality design plays in a borough widely renowned for its superb historic built environment. Tall buildings represent only one model for high-density development.

5.2 It is not enough that tall building proposals demonstrate that they simply do not harm matters of planning importance, but that they contribute positively to the character, appearance and quality of the Royal Borough. They must stand up to scrutiny in terms of appropriate location, architectural quality in their own right and their contribution to urban design. Based on the sieve and proactive analyses, this document identifies six categories of area: three inappropriate, two highly sensitive and one possible area for the development of tall buildings.

5.3 Inappropriate areas for tall buildings

1. Conservation areas
TB1 Within the Royal Borough’s conservation areas historic environment considerations are of such significance that tall buildings will normally be refused.

2. Protected metropolitan view corridor
TB5 In accordance with wider national and metropolitan guidance tall buildings should normally be refused within the strategic viewing corridor of King Henry’s Mound to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

3. Areas outside major transport nodes and corridors
TB7 Outside the 400m (0.25mi) walkbands of major transport nodes, the development of tall buildings should generally be refused due to insufficient accessibility unless it is instrumental in bringing about significant public transport improvements.

5.4 Highly sensitive areas for tall buildings

4. Buffer zones of conservation areas
TB2 Tall buildings will normally be refused within the buffer zones surrounding conservation areas and at greater distances where the building would have an adverse effect on a focal or axial view from within a conservation area.

5. Backdrops of London panoramas and river prospect and landmark viewing corridors
TB6 New tall buildings will normally be refused within a landmark viewing corridor or a London panorama or river prospect backdrop.

5.5 Possible areas for tall buildings

6. Gateways and non sensitive areas
TB19 Areas around Latimer Road Station and Westbourne Park Station, along with gateway areas along the western border of the borough are designated as areas where tall buildings may be appropriate, subject to detailed planning and design considerations. Outside of these areas proposals for tall buildings will not be accepted.

5.6 Other key considerations
TB13 ‘Metropolitan landmarks’ should not be developed in the borough, since Kensington and Chelsea is a predominantly residential borough without opportunity areas as set out in the London Plan.

TB18 Tall buildings should only be located where there is a strong argument for sustainability, accessibility and improvement of the city image.

TB20 Tall buildings should be of outstanding architectural, sustainable and urban design qualities.

We can compare those guidelines with the ones proposed by Wandsworth Borough Council. In the Draft Stage One Urban Design Statement June 2009, we can read (page 18):

4.5 Revised Policy wording: It is recommended that Policy IS3 d – Tall buildings, is amended to read:

Tall buildings, that is those which significantly exceed the prevailing height of surrounding buildings, may be appropriate in locations which  are well served by public transport, such as the town centres and Nine Elms near Vauxhall, or at other defined focal points of activity, taking account of the existing historic context, providing they can justify themselves in terms of the benefits they bring for regeneration,  townscape and public realm. Tall buildings are likely to be inappropriate in other areas.

As we wrote previously, WBC’s core strategy document submitted to the Secretary of States is looking favourably to the expansion of taller buildings in Wandsworth borough:

  • Policy PL 12 (p69) “WandsworthHigher buildings reflecting the status of the town centre while respecting existing landmark buildings may be appropriate on some sites, such as at the northern end of the Ram Brewery site.
  • Policy PL 13 (p73) “Clapham Junction Taller buildings could not only help deliver significant regeneration benefits but also give a visual focus to the town centre
  • Policy PL 14 (p78) “PutneyDevelopments are likely to be at a higher density than existing buildings” [including] “proposals for tall buildings“.

To encourage “landmark buildings” and “visual focus” in town centres is translated as “tall” by developers (and planning officers?). However, it does not necessarily mean “tall”, as the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea specifies (Core Strategy – p103):

Exceptional architectural and design quality will complement a significantly strengthened revitalised retail offer, drawing on innovative and modern approaches to create ‘iconic’ buildings and open space. Iconic does not necessarily mean tall, as Barkers in Kensington High Street demonstrates. Building heights will need to respect the character and appearance of adjoining conservation areas.

August 14, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Tileman House: Town planner recommends refusal.

Author: Cyril Richert

The officers’ response to the application on Tileman House, Upper Richmond Road has now been made public.   The application is on next week’s agenda and has been recommended for refusal.  There are two reasons for refusal which are:

  1. The proposal by reason of its height and scale would form an overbearing and unduly dominant feature uncharacteristic of the surrounding area and prevailing buildings heights, would have a detrimental impact on the streetscape, and would have an inappropriate relationship with adjoining properties contrary to UDP Policies GEN7, TBE1 and TBE5, Core Strategy Proposed Submission Policies PL4, PL14 and IS3 and London Plan policy 4B.10.
  2. The local planning authority has received inadequate housing viability information in order to assess if the proposed level of affordable housing in terms of the overall numbers, the mix of types and sizes and the split between social rented and intermediate has been maximised on this site in order to secure the Council’s affordable housing target. The proposal is therefore contrary to Core Strategy: submission version policy IS 5 and London Plan Policies 3A.9 and 3A.10.

It remains to be seen whether the members of the Committee do or do not agree with the recommendations, but I think we can guess that the weight of public opinion has had some effect: On the Council’s website, there are currently 269 objections and …2 support letters! According to the planning officer report, we had 267 objections on the previous application withdrawn last year.

The Mayor of London raised also serious concerns about the height of the 15 storey element of the proposal.

More information on the Tileman redevelopment in our previous articles:

  1. Tileman House – Upper Richmond House
  2. Tileman House – Comments

August 14, 2009 at 3:09 pm

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