Archive for November 12, 2009

Ram Brewery Inquiry Week 1&2 – Report

See also Shirley Passmore’s report HERE.

Author: Sylvia Harrison

I read Shirley’s account interest and would like to add a few more comments:


Tuesday 3 November 2009

I attended the first day, when all the procedures were explained. Everybody is drowning in paper. I fear for the trees felled in the name of the RAM BREWERY! The absence of what has now become known as ‘The Road Map’ seemed to be the most problematical topic for the afternoon session, as well as the Inspector’s request for a breakdown of the Section 106 agreement!


Daniel Cove, Architect

Obviously totally in love with the design! He made a number of references to the response from CABE which obviously touched a nerve, so I would think this will be something which is raised at a later date.

It was my impression that the Inspector was very helpful to the Wandsworth Society, frequently involving them in consultation with the Architect, who, in the end, did not finish his presentation and asked for another hour the following morning.

I did not eventually hear his final presentation, but I was concerned about the lack of ‘joined-up’ thinking, as he made the comment that his analysis stopped short of the North Side of Armoury Way, even though he did draw a diagram of the Town Centre ‘Core’ with some venn diagrams and expressed the view that the development will encourage visitors from North of the development and provide a walking route to the Thames.

Wednesday 4 November

I spent time doing some research on the Counsels and Minerva, so I could more fully understand the major issues!

Thursday 5 November

Chris Miele – another Partner in Montague Evens

I came in on the end of Chris Miele’s presentation as by this time the Enquiry appeared to be running behind. Again no copies of Proof of Evidence on the ‘Back Table’.

I finally found a reference to the height of the towers apart from the number of storeys. 145.4 metres and 114 metres respectively. To refresh people’s memories, the following is a quotation from Minerva’s own site, which gives some additional information:

This development comprises three individual sites: The Ram Brewery, Capital Studios site and 20-30 Buckhold Road, London SW18. The sites were acquired for a total purchase price of £83.5 million. Resolutions to grant planning consent have been passed by Wandsworth Council to redevelop these sites, with planning consent to follow subject to a Section 106 being agreed. However, the scheme has been called in by the Secretary of State for a public inquiry. The schemes are residential led mixed-use regeneration opportunities in an affluent catchment area of South-West London. Combined, they will comprise 1036 apartments and 238,000 sq.ft. of retail, restaurant and other commercial accommodation, incorporating heritage buildings with modern architecture, including two towers of 32 and 42. storey’s. The developments will incorporate high quality public realm including a riverside walk, 2 public squares and a public viewing gallery in one of the towers.

We have recently exchanged contracts to acquire 1-9 Church Row for £8 million. This acquisition comprises 8 town houses with developable land, adjoining our existing buildings. This will be subject to a future separate planning application.
Minerva November 2009

David Hunter-Yates (Highways)

Again no copy of Proof of Evidence! However, I didn’t need one, as he read from it with great gusto! This is the point which exasperated me most of all, as well as the ones quoted by Shirley.

He assumed Wandsworth Town Station could take extra passengers, and was not overcrowded at peak times as, when it rained, it looked as though the train was full because passengers did not want to walk up the platform and get wet! This was his case for the station having more shelters. He also made an assumption the development would only generate approximately 80 additional passengers therefore it would have no impact.

Paul Burley – Partner in Montague Evans

Like Shirley, I was singularly disappointed with Paul Burley’s Proof of Evidence. He only provided a summary for the ‘back table’ so I was unable to follow many of his points, as I did not have sight of the whole Proof during the day. It was my impression that he knew little about the nature of Wandsworth, in spite of the potted history contained in his evidence. He was asked questions about the Section 106 agreement, and agreed that it was ‘usual’ to stage the draw-down of the funding pending agreed occupancy. He did provide a schedule of indicative timescale for payment of the ‘Gyratory’ contribution over a period of 6 years. It was anticipated completion would be by 2018, if permission was granted, which means building would start in the Autumn of 2010.

He was questioned on the ‘notion’ of a Town Centre, in view of the fact that Wandsworth Borough has at least four: Tooting, Wandsworth Town, Putney and Clapham Junction. He agreed Southside had the character of a Centre, but it is not ‘nice’ enough. He had lots of ideas about what shops there should be including high end properties and quoted Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden of an example of how small units can develop character. He had, of course, forgotten the biggest draw for Neal’s Yard ha been the improvements and incorporation of the Donmar Warehouse!

One interesting point I did pick up from his presentation was that the gasometer is just 80 metres from the North East corner of the site. I assume this statement will be developed further by the Health and Safety Executive.

Friday 6 November


I did not attend the Enquiry, but downloaded Robert Stone’s Proof of Evidence – 42 pages with 10 pages of Appendices and for the first time I saw an ‘indicative’ proposed road network and an analysis of the ability of the proposed transport networks to meet future demands. I found the document well-written, interesting and informative.


Tuesday 10 November

John Webb– Forward Planner, particularly relating to Heritage and Conservation matters

I did not attend for the morning session, but a colleague gave me the following notes which supplement Shirley’s:

  • Residents were shown a copy letter received from English Heritage dated 6 November, commenting on the London Borough of Wandsworth’s Local Development Framework and changes to the Core Strategy. They also made comments on the Stage One Urban Design Statement – Tall Buildings (September 2009). English Heritage suggested that the relevant principal Policy requires further amendment.
  • Mr Webb stated the scheme was well-integrated and complimentary
  • Overall the impact will be beneficial
  • A town centre must continually adapt to stay relevant to people’s needs
  • He agreed there would be likely adverse impacts on adjacent residential properties

I came in just in time for the very skilful cross-questioning from the Wandsworth Society. See Shirley’s comments.

Wednesday 11 November

Tim Cronin – Planning

I found him articulate and professional. He had presented his evidence the previous day, so he was subjected to cross-questioning both by the Council’s Counsel and the Wandsworth Society.

I did pick up some interesting points in relation to the emerging Tall Buildings Strategy. He recognized that robust criteria were required, and that the draft policy included the suggestion that a building will be designated as tall when it was 12 storeys and above, rising to 30, and that this was the absolute maximum. However, the 42 storeys suggested for the Ram Brewery project had stand-alone reasons for being acceptable. Again, questions were then raised in connection with the Gyratory System and the Section 106 agreement and the supposed ‘trade off’ between the Transport scheme and Social Housing.


A letter was circulated today as an add-on to John Stone’s evidence. It was from South-West Trains and confirmed that they had submitted a proposal to the Department for Transport for the use of additional rolling stock that would meet their criteria for providing additional capacity into Waterloo during the morning peak period.

A number of people have been asking about Section 106. The document contained in this link is worth studying if you are interested.


The Counsel reviewed his Proof of Evidence and introduced his Witnesses.

Gordon Adam, Transport for London

I missed this one. But I understand that one of the key points was to do with parking and the lack of it on the site. There was also a general discussion of the gyratory system, when the Inspector made the following comment: The Enquiry is not to look at the merits or otherwise of the gyratory system, only the Ram Brewery Site.

Michael O’Callaghan – Transport for London

A link to his proof of evidence is on the Council website (albeit in black and white) so I was able to look at this in advance. The residents were given a copy of a brief summary with a feasibility study for the removal of the gyratory system in Wandsworth Town Centre and an outline delivery programme for the project. Link HERE.

I understood the situation as being that Tfl are not prepared to carry out any work whatsoever unless they get the whole £38 million from Minerva, although if there was a shortfall over and above this amount, they might be prepared to find some funding to complete the project. Their estimate is completion by 2018.

The people in attendance were shown a CD-Rom Video clip showing a traffic simulation analysis called VISSIM. This demonstrated what happens now and what could happen in the future when the gyratory system was removed. There then followed a lively question and answer session which covered virtually all of the provision, and not just the area round the Ram Brewery which the Inspector had indicated. This session was very well managed by the Wandsworth Society, who brought up the major points of concern, a number of which had been raised by other residents. In particular a resident from the Tonsley’s said that the traffic simulation seems to predict a greater increase in traffic down Old York Road. This could devastate what is a much-used and loved area in the Borough which includes a number of restaurants, cafes and small shops and a very popular public house opposite Wandsworth Town Station.

The Enquiry was adjourned until Tuesday 17 November.

I hope others will be able to pick up on the next week or so, as I cannot attend any more sessions until the week commencing 24 November.

November 12, 2009 at 10:43 pm

Planning Forum meeting: some feedback

Author: Cyril Richert

On Tuesday (November, 10th), was organised the semi-annual Planning Forum at Wandsworth Borough Town Hall. As usual the meeting was chaired by Councillor Leslie McDonnell, Chairman of Planning Committee, with Tony McDonald, Head of Development Control, John Horrocks (Putney Society), Harvey Heath (Battersea Society), Julia Matcham (CJAG and responsibilities in resident associations), Monica Tross (Wandsworth Society)… etc (I am getting slowly familiar with names, so apology for those I did not name here).

Minutes from the meeting should be available on the Council’s website, but last minutes (6 months ago) are still not available. Below are my own comments.

The meeting started with comments on the previous forum. It gave me the occasion to ask again why there is no proper use of Brightside to display information on major applications, or at least major developments coming in the borough. WBC is perfectly capable of selecting what are the major applications is the Borough Planner, Tony McDonald, explained that the level of publicity is defined by importance of the development, from minor alteration (a loft conversion?) to a major development area. As it was said that the Council rely on the local newspaper to publicised the application, I suggested that Brightside could be used for – let say 1/2 page – informing on current/forthcoming major  application. It was eventually said that it is up to the editor to decide what place to consider, beside a problem with time-scale for publishing information (the period of consultation is usually 2 weeks!). Surely for major development the consultation last several months and there should be plenty of time.

Conclusion of the Council Officer: it is as good as it is, nothing more will be done (no room for improvement!) Ah, I forgot: in the meeting in April, Tim Cronin said: “”if you register on the planning portal, you will be able to log-in and access information on any change of policy“. Therefore you will appreciate the current answer on the website:

Service Update
The ‘Register Area of Interest’ web pages are temporarily unavailable.

Should we launch a campaign to have the right of being properly informed? I will definitely follow up on this topic.

The agenda was as follow:-

Section 106

Tony McDonald explained the obligation for developers to fullfill the 106 agreement and said that, for example for the Clapham Junction station redevelopment it was not enough. I asked then if the planning would have been welcomed with more money. He vehemently denied and said that it was one of many reasons.

However, you might recall from our article back in May, that it was the number 1 reason, saying:

“1) The local planning authority is not satisfied that the package provides sufficient benefit

Therefore, it still looks like money under section 106 (or the lack of sufficient provision) was used at the utmost importance. Therefore I think I will need to get precision on whether they still consider the merit of a scheme can be decided on the quality (quantity?) of section 106.

John Horrocks expressed his concern that the pulic does nto get involved at all in those discussions.

See our article on section 106 HERE.

Nine Elms

Harvey Heath (Battersea Society) distributed a summary of statement, listing key elements according to the Society and asked:

  • What the WBC wants to achieve.
  • What is important for residents, pedestrians.
  • Is it going to become a little Manhattan.
  • What about a consultation?

Tony McDonald replied that albeit WBC officers don’t agree with everything, a lot of comments are good. However it will have to comply with the LDF for the area that is currently being produced (Sites Specific Allocations document).

Local Development Framework

After explaining the consultation process, Martin Howell said that so far 60 presentations have been received (35 since the Inspector asked the WBC to extend the consultation in September). On December, 8th, the pre-hearing will provide guidance and on February 2nd 2010, the WBC and all representatives will be asked to provide statements. Following examination, the Inspector will write a report (April 2010) and the WBC is expected to adopt its strategy by Autumn 2010.

Additional documents will be reviewed separately. The Sites Specific Allocation document will go before the Transport Committee on Monday and the consultation period is expected to last until February 2nd.

The officers have defined 2 criteria for tall buildings:

  1. define when a building is a “tall” building;
  2. define the limit where excess will be considered unlikely.

Documents related are:

  1. Urban Design Study – Tall Buildings
  2. Sites Specific Allocations: from p154 it display maps with colours of preferable heights.

The Site Specific Allocations Document will go to the Inspector in due course, probably 2011.

I raised the topic contained in our joint submission on Tall Buildings, quoting:

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.

Tony McDonald replied that those meetings are usually discussions and do not guarantee that a planning application will be requested. Therefore there is no point to publicise them.

However, a lot of people show concerns recently, including Justine Greening MP, saying:

We are being placed in a position of constantly having to object to piecemeal, inappropriate developments that do not address the needs of the local community. […] 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.

Monica Tross (Battersea Society) said that a good example was shown by the Chelsea Barracks, where a website was set up to consult the community before any planning submission. Battersea (Nine Elms) is just doing the opposite!

No comment from the WBC officers to make any improvement in their process… we will have to recall the subject at the next meeting.

Next meeting: Tuesday 25 May 2010 – 7pm

November 12, 2009 at 3:26 pm

November 2009