Archive for November, 2009

Ram Brewery inquiry: report from week 3

Author: Shirley Passmore [Wandsworth Society]

The Health & Safety position seems to be that the risk from the gasholder would be classified as ‘tolerable’ [1].

It is not expected to blow up any day soon. However accidents do happen (6-8 a year) and although there are people living now within the vicinity and subject to this tolerable risk they are in a widely-spaced area. It is unacceptable to add hundreds more in a concentrated mass righ t next to the gasholder.

HSE would have expected to be consulted on the development before the application went in but they were not. They have expertise on how to minimise the effects of a major accident by suitable building design. A glass-fronted tower full of people is not the best kind of building to have next to a gasholder.

Mr Williams was cross-examined by the QC Mr Harris, endlessly, and in my opinion rather pointlessly. He was trying to discount Mr William’s evidence on how the HSE measured risks and the distances within which they would be serious in terms of loss of life. Since it is admitted that the risk is not high , one wonders what the questioning proved. The fact remains there is a ‘tolerable’ risk and as one can never tell if/when an accident will happen, it is unwise to put a tower full of people at risk.

I left before the end but more HSE issues tomorrow. Timetable in the AGENDA page. Anyone who wants to speak on day 16 must tell Toby Felpham of WBC.

[1] HSE to be consulted on various development proposals including: proposed development in the vicinity of existing hazardous installations where the siting would increase the risk or consequences of a major accident and development within an area that has been notified to the LPA by the HSE because of the presence of hazardous substances and involves:

  • residential
  • more than 250sqm retail floorspace
  • more than 500sqm offices floorspace
  • more than 750sqm floorspace for an industrial purpose
  • transport links
  • or which would be likely to result in a material increase in the number of people working within or visiting the notified area

The HSE note refers to three progress review papers concerning methodology: in May 2002, August 2002 and 2003/04 (MSDU Bulletin) respectively, which were used to clarify the LUP assessment approach to be adopted within the unit until a new siting policy for gasholders is formally agreed.

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November 19, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Cash boost for Clapham Junction station

Author: Cyril Richert

The government has just announced that Clapham Junction, with 9 other railway stations in England,  most in need of modernisation, are to get £50m to carry out urgent improvements.

Already last week, rail operator Network Rail announced plans to spend £3.25bn to improve more than 2,000 stations across England and Wales by 2014: this includes Birmingham Station, but also Leeds, Blackfriars, King Cross… (diaporama on the BBC website).

But Chris Green (appointed by the government to look at the railway – former Virgin Trains chief executive) and Town and Country Planning Association president Sir Peter Hall – have identified 10 that are in need of the most urgent work and that they described as having been “left behind“.

Manchester Victoria was judged to be the worst followed by Clapham Junction and Crewe (customer satisfaction ratings), with all three suffering from overcrowding.

Transport Secretary Lord Andrew Adonis started a tour of all 10, visiting Clapham Junction this morning at 6.30am (argh, missed him! But hopefully Martin Linton, Battersea MP will have passed our message). According to the Daily Mail, he commented on Clapham Junction station and said:

There is no obvious evidence of any investment or modernisation at Clapham Junction for 30 years apart from the installation of some new lifts.

One of Europe’s busiest stations, it doesn’t have a single escalator, the platform canopies cover only a minority of the congested platforms.

There is virtually no waiting area and no bike parking that I could see.

The station badly needs a new entrance which links into the overpass, relieving pressure on the congested tunnel linking the platforms, and this is now proposed.

Local controversy has focused on the extent of commercial development around the station needed to generate the income for the station upgrading.

Network Rail now intends to come forward with a revised scheme to bring about early improvements.

You can read more comments on his tour on the Timesonline website.

He said earlier, commenting on the report from the government’s railway “champions”:

I support the report’s recommendations of minimum standards for stations – classed by size – in terms of information, car and bike parking, facilities and environment.

I intend to make these minimum standards a requirement in future rail franchise agreements with train operating companies.

He also added that rail operators would be required to ensure minimum standards in future.

It is good news for Clapham Junction, at the time where we have just launched an initiative to debate on the redevelopment of the station.

With Martin Linton, we met yesterday with Office of Rail Regulation senior officers. We presented our vision of an improved station and urged the regulators to give the Clapham Junction upgrade high priority for in the next funding round (CP5 – 2014-2019). We will have more to say on the meeting and future actions in a next report but you can already read some of  Martin Linton’s comment (see his website HERE):

“The Government is already installing lifts and building a tube station at Clapham Junction, but it’s still a very overcrowded, old-fashioned station that is in urgent need of better facilities for travellers.

The new entrance opening soon at the top of St John’s Hill will give direct access to the lifts and this will be a huge bonus for the public as well as for people with wheelchairs, buggies, bikes or heavy luggage. But my top priority is to give access to the lifts from the Grant Road side of the station as well.

Together with the Clapham Junction Action Group I will also press for a bigger main entrance with more ticketing facilities and with escalators from the concourse to the overbridge to relieve overcrowding in the tunnel.

We’ve expanded the capacity of Clapham Junction from four-carriage to eight- and ten- and eventually to twelve-carriage trains, and we need more entrances and facilities and escalators to ease congestion and to make travelling a more pleasant experience.

I know that all the people who objected to the 42-storey towers were still keen to get the station improvements and I’m delighted that the Government has come forward with some funds to pay for the most urgently needed improvements.

There’s no reason why we should have to pay for urgently-needed station improvements by agreeing to giant tower blocks which would be totally out of place and I’m glad we didn’t agree to the scheme.

In the longer run we will need even more investment to turn Clapham Junction into a first-class station. It is already Britain’s busiest station with 40 million passengers going through the station every year, but it has the entrance and facilities of a small town station.”

It is exciting to see that things are moving, and fast. We hope to be able to meet with Network Rail as soon as possible to discuss on the new possibilities.

PRIORITY STATIONS:

  1. Manchester Victoria
  2. Clapham Junction
  3. Crewe
  4. Barking
  5. Stockport
  6. Warrington Bank Quay
  7. Preston
  8. Wigan North Western
  9. Luton
  10. Liverpool Central

UPDATE 19/11/2009: I am a bit surprised by the press release from the Council (or do you call that “politics“?).  Guy Senior, Wandsworth Council’s transportation spokesman, said:

All the Government is offering is a lick of paint.

£5m or more is expensive for paint, and I wonder then how you could call the £300k that WBC put aside to help improve the new station entrance: a droplet?

Seriously, why not simply say, as we press for, that this funding is welcomed, and we hope that it shows concerns at the government level and that it will be followed by additional funding to eventually make a proper redevelopment?

November 17, 2009 at 4:32 pm 7 comments

Clapham Junction – fit for the 21st century?

Author: Susie Morrow (Trustee, Living Streets / member of Battersea Society)
Article published in the Battersea Society Newsletter, summer 2009 edition.

Recent discussions about proposals for Clapham Junction (or Battersea Junction) station, and the surrounding streetscape, prompt reflection on how this place could be. What would this locality be like, in order to be truly fit for the 21st century?

From a Living Streets perspective, the desired endpoint would be ‘safe, attractive and enjoyable streets for all’. Integral to this would be having the needs of people prioritised over traffic, and involving people in decision making. In this vision, walking would be the natural choice for short journeys.

Urban designers talk about our streets in terms of ‘link’ and ‘place’. These two, sometimes conflicting, dimensions are useful in thinking about how to assess any development or transport scheme. Clapham Junction is, of course, a key ‘link’ in the sense of being a major transport hub, and also has strong claims as a ‘place’ – somewhere people meet to do business, shop, relax, and live; somewhere with a distinct community, history and ‘feel’.

Schiedam cycle gulleyIn terms of Clapham Junction as a ‘link’, I’d say that a well designed 21st century interchange would be one which was viewed internationally as successful, an exemplar even, in promoting ‘active travel’ modes – walking and cycling. In practical terms this would mean things like: excellent accessibility for all within this large railway station; people-friendly vehicle speeds (why not a 20mph speed limit covering the whole area?); and excellent permeability of the area for those on foot and cycling. On this last point, walking and cycling are modes of travel which are very sensitive to distance. Hence the value of a fine-grained street and urban development pattern, with cut-throughs and exemptions from one-way working, allowing avoidance of lengthy detours and opening up route choice for ‘active travel’ modes. Painstaking thought would go into attracting pedestrians and cyclists and creating ‘seamless’ integration with public transport, with continuing efforts to increase the modal share of walking and cycling trips. Lower traffic speeds allow planners to be more bold in creating shared space on busy pedestrian routes. Shared space works well on the South Bank; why not Clapham Junction? In summary, the ‘Manual for Streets’ principles should be applied here; to do this would be to transform it for the better. [1]

As a ‘place’, an exemplar 21st century Clapham Junction would look and feel pleasant, and would be accessible for everyone. Local air quality would be much better than now, and improving all the time as people are encouraged to walk or cycle. Though always busy and buzzy – that’s part of its appeal – our ears wouldn’t be assaulted by traffic noise when we emerge from the station, since almost everyone would arrive by public (and semi-public) transport, walking and cycling. Rather than creating motor traffic by providing numerous residential car parking spaces within the station development, there’d be sufficient car parking spaces for disabled people, with lots of well designed cycle parking for residents and visitors, and spaces for car clubs generously distributed here and in the surrounding area. The urban realm would be both beautiful and functional… aside from a top-quality interchange, we might expect to see features such as a working (!) public clock; attractive seating; trees; water fountains; easily accessible public toilets; kiosks; pocket parks and other play facilities; references to the Falcon Brook; and a cycle repair, storage & hire station. The local community would be diverse and resilient, well connected to the area and with a thriving local economy.

These are some characteristics I’d associate with a ‘successful’ urban realm in Clapham Junction town centre; now, how to achieve this?

[1] Manual for streets. Department for Transport/ Communities and Local Government/ Welsh Assembly Government, 2007. ISBN: 9780727735010

You can also read our article on alternative plans for Clapham Junction area.

November 16, 2009 at 4:44 pm

No secondary school in Clapham Junction area. Join the campaign!

Author: Jon De Maria

Dear friends, family and colleagues

As a local parent here in Wandsworth, I’m part of a group of concerned mums and dads that’s campaigning for a new state secondary school for the Northcote Road area.

We think everyone will benefit – our children of course, and the community we all call home.

For the full story please go to http://www.thensc.net

We’d really like to know what you think? And if you’re on side, we could really do with your help.

If you can visit our website, sign the online petition, and forward this email to friends, family, colleagues – anyone who might help us gather the support we need to get this campaign rolling.

And on behalf of the Neighbourhood School Campaign, thank you.

There is no state secondary school in South Battersea; the seven square miles served by Alderbrook Primary, High View and the two largest primary schools in Wandsworth, Belleville and Honeywell.

November 15, 2009 at 5:23 pm 5 comments

Clapham Junction removed from the tall building preferred zone

Author: Cyril Richert

The Core Strategy, part of the Local Development Framework (LDF) for Wandsworth borough, was submitted to the Secretary of State in March and is now being examined by an independent Planning Inspector.

Initial deadline for submission was set to September 4th, but with regards to presentations and comments the inspector raised two main concerns (lack of definition for “tall” buildings zones, and affordable accommodation) and asked the Council to make another round of consultation.

Wandsworth Borough Council (WBC) has produced a document called Sites Specific Allocation. It will go before the Transport Committee this month and should be followed by a consultation period up to February 2010. It will be reviewed by the inspector in due course, probably in 2011.

Documents produced on tall buildings are:

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

Clapham Junction is no longer marked as suitable for tall buildings

The Council has released a Core Strategy Post Submission Version Sustainability Appraisal, September 2009 (download on WBC website). On page 198 (Policy PL13 – Clapham Junction and the adjoining area) of this document they made two amendments following the Inspector’s concerns that the current policy did not include specific reference to account being taken of the historic context when assessing applications for tall buildings.

The minor wording change makes it very clear that proposals for tall buildings will only be acceptable in Central Wandsworth and the Wandle Delta if they can justify themselves in terms of the criteria in policy IS3 (including reference to historic context).

Clause b) was therefore amended to add (amendment in bold):

Taller buildings could not only help deliver significant regeneration benefits but also give a visual focus to the town centre, subject to the qualifications set out in Policy IS3 and the criteria based policy on tall buildings to be included in the Development Management Policies Document.

Albeit still referring to the fact that taller building “could give a visual focus to the town centre“, they also amended Clause e) and removed reference to the Clapham Junction Station site being potentially suitable for tall buildings, following concerns from the Inspector that specific reference to sites within these broad areas is not appropriate at Core Strategy stage.

Clause e) was therefore changed to remove (amendment in bold):

Taller buildings in this location could be justified due to the proximity of Clapham Junction station and its accessibility to high frequency public transport.

On the picture produced in the Urban Design Study, we can see that the proposed redevelopment of Clapham Junction station area with the twin 42-storey towers would have been very unlikely as it fixes the limit to 20 stories; and the 16-storey hotel proposed for the bottom of Mossbury Road would have also been considered from start as well above the limit of 8 stories.

  • Clapham Junction Town Centre - Opportunities and Constraints for Tall BuildingsNumbers without brackets: height at which buildings are considered tall buildings.
  • Numbers inside brackets: height above which buildings are unlikely to be considered acceptable.

The picture shows also that any building above 4 stories will be considered as a “tall” building in Clapham Junction area.

Usually 5 stories, but a cluster of up to 20-storey buildings could be considered along the railway

The Urban Design Study makes interesting reading, saying (Clapham Jucntion Town Centre – page 16-23):

2.35 Development on a fairly major scale over the station could facilitate general improvements addressing these matters. Future redevelopment of the site will need to restructure the architecturally and historically insignificant station approaches and provide an enhanced shopping area, together with residential and employment provision and major new public space. […]

2.39 The urban characterisation of Clapham Junction town centre indicates that its prevailing building height is around four storeys, and the only buildings that punctuate the skyline are those of Civic, cultural and retail importance, notably Debenhams (formerly Arding and Hobbs), a flagship Department store, the Grand Theatre and the former Parcel office at the station. Accordingly any building of five storeys and above 20 would be noticeable above the prevailing height within the town centre. Because of the need to protect the essential character of the buildings that define the main shopping streets, applications for development of 5 storeys and above will be subject to the criteria of the tall buildings policy. Throughout most of the town centre (and conservation area), applications for buildings of more than five storeys will generally be unacceptable, and will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

2.40 Exceptions to this are the Clapham Junction Station site, the ASDA, Boots and Lidl sites (Falcon Lane), 140-150 Falcon Road and the area fronting onto Grant Road, and 155 Falcon Road. […]

2.41 Tall buildings in this location could appropriately form part of a mixed use development, though it is recognised that the tall buildings themselves are most likely to be residential-led, as the demand for office space in the town centre is limited. Applications for buildings of more than 20 storeys will generally be unacceptable, and will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

2.42 The guiding principles for the ASDA, Boots and LIDL sites, are to secure a new retail shopping street with frontages on to the street of around four storeys, consistent with the character and grain of the town centre and conservation area. […] Tall buildings would only be acceptable towards the railway on this site.

2.44 The site of 155 Falcon Road is occupied by a 5 storey mixed use building. A tall building in this location would have a demonstrable effect on the adjoining area […]. Accordingly applications for buildings of more than 8 storeys will generally be unacceptable, and will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

November 14, 2009 at 1:59 pm

In the press

SLP-091103

Wandsworth Guardian 12/11/2009

Read also our analysis HERE.

November 13, 2009 at 11:39 am

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:

WEEK 1

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!

EVIDENCE FOR THE APPLICANT (MINERVA)

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

EVIDENCE FOR WANDSWORTH COUNCIL

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.

WEEK 2

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.

NOTES:

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.

MAYOR OF LONDON

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

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