Archive for September, 2009

Planning policy on tall buildings in the London Borough of Wandsworth – a joint statement

Author: Cyril Richert

Last month I was asking you to comment our draft proposal regarding Wandsworth Borough Council policy on tall buildings. After merging all contributions and with the help of the Wandsworth Society, the Putney Society and the Battersea Society we have submitted a joint statement to the inspector in charge of reviewing the LDF for Wandsworth.

In our cover letter addressed on the 3rd September to the Inspector by the Chairman of the Wandsworth Society on the behalf of the Putney, Wandsworth and Battersea Amenity Societies and the Clapham Junction Action Group (together  representing the northern half of the borough), we said:

In view the revised submission which you are seeking from the Council on the above policy by the 4th September, we attach a brief report compiled by our four groups for your consideration. This is a very important issue both for the Borough and London generally as the ramifications of Wandsworth Council’s ‘tall’ buildings policy will have far reaching repercussions across South and West London in particular.

We suggest that, because it is an important and contentious issue, the Council should go out for a further round on consultation on tall buildings. Accepting that this is a matter for the Inspector’s judgment, we would like to present this submission. We did not present it at the time of publication because these issues were not so apparent then. However, as the result of a number of highly contentious planning applications in the Borough this is no longer the case. The issues are now most apparent and of concern to many, and we would request to be heard at the public inquiry, whenever that is held, for the same reasons.

You can read the full statement HERE.

A synopsis of our views:

“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 their surroundings but that they contribute positively to the character, appearance and quality of their immediate surroundings and the wider area they will affect.

“Tall” buildings must stand up 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 (apart from a small fringe in the Central Activities Zone) but largely urban and residential.

We identify the following policy constraints by which Planning Permission for “tall” buildings would be refused for breach of any of them:

  1. TB1 Conservation Areas where historic environmental considerations and character are of significance
  2. 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
  3. TB3 Transport where proposals are further than 400 metres from a major transport node and/or there is insufficient capacity of, or access to, public transport
  4. 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
  5. TB5 Views and Open Spaces where a proposal will have an adverse effect (a) locally and/or (b) in a wider London context upon its open spaces, views and 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 and not where in conflict with 1-5 above.
  • Economics must not be a planning factor determining the future of a site including such issues as site purchase costs.
  • Appropriate publicity should be agreed with Council Members and officials at the pre-application stage and should use images which demonstrably reflect the true appearance, height and mass of the development measurable against neighbouring buildings.
  • Pre-application discussions between developers and Council Members and officials to be minuted and/or recorded and made available to the public recording predictions, understandings and agreements reached between them, the Council’s procedures and negotiations should be transparent.

After a series of planning proposals that the residents fought at an unprecedented level (including towers in Putney, twin skyscrapers in Clapham Junction, tower block hotel… etc), voices rose from all parties criticising the current policy on tall buildings in the borough. With this contribution, we intend to participate to the debate and raise the concern of the community to define a “brighter borough”.

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3.00 A synopsis of the Societies’ views are as follows.

3.01 “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 their surroundings but that they contribute positively to the character, appearance and quality of their immediate surroundings and the wider area they will affect.

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

3.03 Wandsworth Borough is neither a city nor a commercial centre (apart from a small fringe in the Central Activities Zone) but largely urban and residential. We identify the following policy constraints by which Planning Permission for “tall” buildings would be refused for breach of any of them:

· 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/or there is insufficient capacity of, or 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/or (b) in a wider London context upon its open spaces, views and historic buildings, and their settings.

3.04 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 and not where in conflict with 1-5 above.

· Economics must not be a planning factor determining the future of a site including such issues as site purchase costs.

· Appropriate publicity should be agreed with Council Members and officials at the pre-application stage and should use images which demonstrably reflect the true appearance, height and mass of the development measurable against neighbouring buildings.

· Pre-application discussions between developers and Council Members and officials to be minuted and/or recorded and made available to the public recording predictions, understandings and agreements reached between them, the Council’s procedures and negotiations should be transparent.

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September 14, 2009 at 3:09 pm 2 comments

Ram Brewery: pre-inquiry note

Author: Cyril Richert

After the approval of the Ram Brewery redevelopment project, including 2 skyscrapers, by Wandsworth Borough Council last year, the planning was stopped by the government as the Communities Secretary called for an inquiry.

We have no doubts that the Wandsworth Society is already working hard to present the concerns of the local community against the project. We have received the pre-inquiry note which make interesting reading on the layout of the inquiry itself.

Matters to be Addressed:

The matters on which the Secretary of State particularly wishes to be informed, as identified in the call in letter dated 18 February 2009, are:

a. the extent to which the proposed development is consistent with Government policies in PPS1: Delivering Sustainable Development and accompanying guidance The Planning System: General Principles (including the building heights, layout, scale, open space, visual appearance and landscaping, are appropriate in their context);

b. the extent to which the proposed development accords with national planning policy guidance in PPS3: Housing (in particular with regard to policies on affordable housing, meeting the needs of the whole community, promoting good design in new housing developments);

c. the extent to which the proposed re-development is consistent with the advice in PPG13: Transport (adequacy of the Transport Assessment submitted, ability of the public transport system to cope with the extra demand);

d. the extent to which the proposed development accords with national policy guidance in PPG15: Planning and the Historic Environment, in particular with regard to the likely impact of the proposal on the character or appearance of the Wandsworth Town Conservation Areas, the setting of listed buildings and on the immediate surroundings;

e. whether the proposed development is in accordance with national policy on hazardous installations;

f. whether the proposed development accords with the relevant provisions of the London Plan – Spatial Strategy for Greater London Consolidated with Alterations since 2004 (February 2008);

g. whether any permission should be subject to conditions and, if so, the form they should take; and

h. any other relevant material planning considerations.

In addition to the above matters, evidence should be provided to show whether the proposal is consistent with key planning objectives related to climate change, energy provision and the overall sustainability performance of the proposed dwellings.

Venue:

The venue for the Inquiry will be in Wandsworth town centre, London.

The Inquiry will open at 10 a.m. on Tuesday 3 November 2009. On subsequent days, normal sitting times will be 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. with short breaks during the morning and afternoon sessions. Friday afternoon adjournments may be a little earlier, with the possibility of 9.30 a.m. starts to make up any lost time.

The Inquiry is currently programmed to last for 20 days, sitting from: Tuesday 3 November to Friday 6 November; Tuesday 10 November to Friday 13 November; Tuesday 17 November to Friday 20 November; Tuesday 24 November to Friday 27 November; and Tuesday 1 December to Friday 4 December 2009.

Representations by any interested persons is allowed after hearing from the main parties (the applicant, the Mayor of London, WB Council, the Health and Safety Executive, the Primary Care Trust).

September 13, 2009 at 10:42 am

Tall buildings in Clapham Junction

Author: Cyril Richert

The Planning and Transportation Overview and Scrutiny Committee (in charge of Planning policy – as bizarre as it sounds, the Planning Application Committee is only in charge of the applications, not of the policy determining the applications!) was presented a report by the Borough Planner with minor amendments to the proposed Local Development Framework policies in respect to affordable housing and Tall Buildings, especially in Clapham Junction area.

The report details the final changes to the affordable housing and tall buildings policies, which have been forwarded to the Inspector (as part of the review of Wandsworth’s LDF).

The report states (page 4):

13. The wording of Policy IS3 d. has been amended to read: –
Policy IS3 d. (Tall buildings)
“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, providing they can justify themselves in terms of the benefits they may
bring for regeneration, townscape and public realm and their effect on the existing historic environment. Tall buildings are likely to be inappropriate in other areas. Detailed criteria for the assessment of tall buildings and consideration of the appropriateness of tall buildings on individual sites will be contained in the Development Management Policies Document and Site Specific Allocations Document.

14. The wording of Policy PL13 e. (part of Clapham Junction and the adjoining area) has been amended to remove the reference to tall buildings in a specific area. This policy now reads: –
The area around Falcon Lane should be restructured to secure an extension to the town centre in a compact and sustainable form consistent with the distinctiveness of Clapham Junction. This should take the form of a mixed-use development with good quality streets. Additional new housing can be provided in higher density mixed use redevelopment of low density retail facilities on the north side of the town centre on or close to Lavender Hill, to include enhanced retail provision where appropriate.

On step in the right direction, but there is still no clear guidelines given to developers to where tall building could or could not be acceptable.

September 12, 2009 at 4:25 pm


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