Archive for December, 2009

Station entrance: Brighton Yard plans unveiled

Author: Cyril Richert

Wandsworth Borough Council has published a press release to say that Network Rail has revealed enhanced designs for a new entrance to Clapham Junction Station at Brighton Yard.

The latest designs include a forecourt with full vehicle access and passenger drop off area, a taxi rank, step-free pedestrian access and 42 covered cycle parking stands.

The entrance building plan includes ticket vending machines, a staffed ticket office, automatic ticket barriers, customer information screens, two retail units, toilets and baby changing facilities.

The new entrance will lead onto the existing footbridge, which will provide access to all of the platforms via stairs and newly installed lifts. This will mean thousands of commuters can reach their trains while completely avoiding the congested main entrance and subway tunnel.

The total project costs are expected to be around £1.5 million which will be split between Network Rail, South West Trains, Transport for London and Wandsworth Council.

Work could start in spring 2010 once work associated with installing new passenger lifts has been completed.

[…]

The council estimates the total cost of bringing the station up to a reasonable standard will be well in excess of £100million. So far the Government has only offered around £5million in new funding.

Work is in fact already in progress has shown on the photos HERE.

Regarding the latest statement, as usual the more the better. But for comparison purposes it is important to remember that Metro Shopping’s scheme, which included the two 42-storey towers, was allocating £50m for the new station, including the cost to provide a temporary facility during the several years work.

Details of the plans are today available on the Council’s website:

  • New station entrance at Brighton Yard – proposed forecourt (click on the image to see bigger or download the PDF):

  • New station entrance at Brighton Yard – proposed ticket office (click on the image to see bigger or download the PDF):

Apparently more improvements are coming:

  • On the Grant Road approach, improvements to bus interchange and standing arrangements are planned.
  • In addition, more could be done to relieve congestion by relocating some bus stops closer to Brighton Yard entrance.

Read also our article: Wandsworth Council is stepping-in for Clapham Junction station improvement.

The designs are at an early stage of development and may be subject to change.

As WBC planning department said, Network Rail do not require planning permission under the GPDO (General Permitted Development Order 1995) with the possible exception of some details. Therefore further information will come certainly directly from NR.

December 21, 2009 at 4:10 pm 3 comments

Ram Brewery: the Secretary of State could make a decision before next election

Author: Cyril Richert

Sian Evans, the Secretary of State, has published a statement regarding the Ram Brewery Inquiry with an apparent intention to issue a decision before next general election (due by June 2010 at latest). [*]

Following the closure of the Inquiry, the Inspector is now preparing his report and recommendation(s) for submission to the Secretary of State for their consideration.

In accordance with Schedule 2 to the above Act, I am writing to let you know that the Secretary of State will issue their decision(s) on or before 27 May 2010.

In any case, it could mean that we are likely to have a recommendation from the Inspector early May 2010.

Read also our article: Ram Brewery Inquiry is over: what next?

[*] That’s the usual story of the glass half full or half empty: you could think also that a general election is likely to happen before the decision.

December 18, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Road work for Clapham Junction funded

Author: Cyril Richert

On February 28th I wrote an article about road works and traffic plans for Clapham Junction area.

Wandsworth Borough Council has approved the funding of £1.2m for the necessary work, according to the press release published today.

The key element of the plan, along with new pavements and traffic improvement, will be the banning of the right turn from Lavender Hill into Falcon Road to be replaced with the introduction of right turn movements from Lavender Hill into Falcon Lane. The decision comes in the hope of easing the congestion at the crossroad between Falcon Road, Lavender Hill and St John’s Hill, beside Clapham Junction station, as I wrote in February.

Please refer to my original article to get full detail of the plan.

Work is expected to start in March 2010.

TfL transport commissioner, Peter Hendy said:

Wandsworth has identified a range of small and large scale projects that will make a real difference to local people by improving town centres and public spaces, reducing the number of collisions on our roads, improving the environment and promoting greener forms of travel. Wandsworth also has the flexibility to move certain funding between projects if, during the course of the year, they find more or less funding is needed for individual schemes.

See also article: Wandsworth Council is stepping-in for Clapham Junction station improvement.

December 16, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Ealing town centre gets a reprieve

Author: Shirley Passmore

We learned this week that the Secretary of State has refused planning permission for a development in Ealing town centre for a 25-storey tower and 6 further blocks of between 2 – 11 storeys, by architects Foster and Partners (full report HERE).

A piece of very good news for the Wandsworth objectors (ie. most of the local population of all political parties and none) is that the formidable Russell Harris QC [representing Minerva in the Ram Brewery Inquiry], who conducted the case for Minerva and was also the QC acting for Glenkerrin at Ealing, did not win. We thought he might be unbeatable!

The proposed scheme is different from that for the Ram site in many respects but there are interesting similarities. The area around the site is similar to Wandsworth, a mixture of very old, of Victorian (2-6 storey), and more recent buildings of doubtful merit. There are also many listed buildings nearby.

The main differences are that the proposed tower is ‘only’ 25 storeys high and there is only one. The proposed density for the site is way above the highest required level in the London Plan, and Ealing is categorised as a Metropolitan Centre as opposed to a Major Centre for Wandsworth.

However, euphoria over the result must be dampened down somewhat because, as one reads through the inspector’s report, one wonders when he will find anything to oppose. It is a glowing appraisal of the benefits of landmark towers and their suitability on town centre sites, of the benefits that very high density can bring, and of how the scheme conforms to the London Plan and Ealing’s UDP in nearly every way.

We are soon made to understand that any thoughts that well-researched objections to density, building standards, lack of public open space, traffic generation, poor public transport, wind around towers, retail needs, affordable housing, parking spaces, etc etc, might because for rejection is in the realm of wishful thinking. They were all considered but brushed aside.

Feeling more and more depressed but realising that there must be a rainbow at the end one comes to paragraph 685. Ah, at last!

Here PPG 15 is spelled out ‘environmental stewardship demands protection of the historic environment’, and London Plan Policy 4b1. requires that ‘development proposals should protect local history, context, built heritage, character and communities’ and finally in paragraph 797 (of 802)

Notwithstanding these clear benefits [as defined throughout the report] the design would be inappropriate in its surroundings, and would fail to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Town Centre conservation area…

Para 802 recommends refusal by the Secretary of State. He said:

Notwithstanding […] clear benefits, I consider that the bulk, massing and certain aspects of the design would be inappropriate in its surroundings, and would fail to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Town Centre conservation area, and the setting of Haven Green conservation area, for the reasons set out in full in my consideration of the main issues. The massing of development facing Haven Green, and the elevations to Ealing Broadway are of particular concern. The height of the southern elevation of the scheme would in my judgment also harm the setting of the Grade II* listed Church of Christ the Saviour, diminishing its role as an important Town Centre landmark. While I accept that, considered in isolation, the design of the proposed tower is of high architectural quality, I consider that it would not contribute to the distinctiveness and identity of Ealing, and would be dominant and overbearing in the predominantly low rise context of Ealing Town Centre and development surrounding Haven Green. […]

I recommend that planning permission for the application should be refused.

It is clear to see why Russell Harris is in great demand by developers at Public Inquiries. His documented case takes every objection, however slight, and pulls it apart in a logical and clear manner. However, he is not immune to picking policies from either current or emerging plans to suit and then suggesting the one not chosen is irrelevant. He also shows his irritation with the “articulate and educated section of the community” whom he thought “wasted much time over issues not identified by the S of S“.

So in the end it all came down to landmark towers being suitable in the right place but heritage and local context comes first. Hooray. Let us hope our inspector comes to the same conclusion.


The decision follows a public inquiry earlier this year into the high-rise £500 million project backed by developer Glenkerrin which would have created 567 homes.

The Secretary of State agreed with the planning inspector that the development of the 1.7ha plot would have had a ‘dominant and overbearing impact’ on the area and ‘seriously detract from [its] distinctiveness and identity’.

After winning the Mayor of London’s backing earlier this year, the whole project was called in by previous Communities Secretary Hazel Blears.

More:  architectsjournal.co.uk

John Denham’s conclusions (click to download full decision)

The Secretary of State considers that, although the application proposal is broadly in compliance with the development plan in many respects, there are significant areas of conflict, most particularly in relation to design principles and conservation. He also considers that the proposal does not fully accord with national policy in PPS1 and PPG15 in these respects. He has therefore gone on to consider whether there are material considerations of sufficient weight to overcome these.

He acknowledges that the proposed scheme would deliver a number of substantial benefits and fulfil some important objectives of development plan policy by contributing strongly to the Council’s regeneration objectives including reinforcing the status of Ealing as a Metropolitan Centre. The scheme would include, among other benefits, a landmark tower of high quality design and attractive pedestrian streets and spaces which would improve the permeability of the site. It would also deliver a significant volume of housing. Against these benefits, however, the Secretary of State considers that the bulk, massing and certain aspects of the design of the scheme would be inappropriate in its surroundings. It would fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Town Centre conservation area and the setting of the Haven Green conservation area, as well as harming the setting of the Grade II* listed Church of Christ the Saviour.

In coming to his decision, the Secretary of State has taken full account of the views of CABE in their support for the quality of the proposed buildings and streetscape improvements that the proposed scheme would deliver. However, he notes that CABE’s views did not include consideration of the way in which the scheme would relate to its wider surroundings, and he regards that as a key design objective of PPS1. He sees it as essential for the design qualities of the proposal to be considered in context, and he considers that its dominant and overbearing impact would seriously detract from the distinctiveness and identity of Ealing Town Centre and the Haven Green area.

Overall, therefore, the Secretary of State concludes that, although the scheme would comply with some specific development plan policies relating to the regeneration of Ealing Town Centre and would bring many benefits to the area, these are of insufficient weight to determine the application other than in accordance with those national and development plan policies relating to conservation and design in order to ensure that the distinctive existing character of the area is maintained.

December 10, 2009 at 4:54 pm 3 comments

Proposal for the replacement of Peabody Estate at the Junction

Author: Cyril Richert

Extract from the Architects Journal illustrating proposals for the replacement Peabody Estate at the Junction:

Hawkins\Brown Architects has designed a 650-home estate for Peabody at Clapham Junction that more than double the capacity of the existing development. The proposal is a test scheme for the housing association‘s future vision, released this week, which was drawn up by Terry Farrell. Every home in the estate will have outside space and be build to exceed level 4 of Code for Sustainable Homes. The scheme will be funded though a combination of social housing grants, the sale of private homes and low-carbon initiative grants.

[click on the image to see it bigger]

According to an article in BDonline,  Hawkins Brown (which won an international competition to reappraise the Peabody Estate’s Clapham site in south London – have you heard about this in Brightside?) is drawing up plans for a £100 million estate regeneration that is being described as a template for the future of social housing.

The firm, has now been given the go-ahead to draw up detailed plans to double the number of homes, enlarge properties and give all residents private, outdoor space.

According to the website, Hawkins Brown director Wayne Glaze said there was a pressing need to reconnect the Clapham estate to its surroundings.

Clapham is a walled estate at the moment,” he said, “and we have tried to open it up to make it easier to navigate. We wanted to make it more part of the community.

The existing 1930s stock is, by its nature, outdated. It is our ambition to give better space standards. The flats are very internal looking. The intention is to provide everyone with some amenity space.

However a criticism on the article wonders how they can achieve private outdoor space and still make the estate open to the surrounding community with the number of flats and even a tower block included.

The tower (which because of the seventy foot tall hill that it sits on) will already be seven stories higher than the ones in Grant Road and is bound to ‘read’ very strongly when looking up St John’s Hill.

There are also concerns on aspects of the overall density – plus uncertainties over sizes of units in terms of room numbers.

It is hoped a planning application will be lodged next year for the three-and-a-half-year project to be carried out in stages.

UPDATE 10/12/2009

As requested in comments below, I provide a comparison of the current estate and the architect view.

Information about Peabody Trust is available on their website.

The properties are currently mostly general needs, apart from two of the blocks which are used for sheltered accommodation and a small number of market rented properties.

The proposal is planning to double the number of new homes (up to 650) and to be funded through a combination of social housing grants and private homes

WBC tall building policy, the Site Specific Allocations Document says (p94):
Buildings should face directly on to the streets with a maximum height of 4 storeys to respect the character and scale of the existing residential buildings. Further west across the site the built form could be more intense of 6 to 8 storeys with taller buildings towards St. John’s Hill.
Applications for buildings of 5 or more storeys will be subject to the criteria of the tall buildings policy […] tall buildings in this location are likely to be inappropriate.

Below are also photos from St John’s Hill and internal open space:

The tower (which because of the seventy foot tall hill that it sits on) will already be seven stories higher than the ones in Grant Road and is bound to ‘read’ very strongly when looking up StJohn’s Hill.

There are aspects of the overall density – plus uncertainties over sizes of units in terms of room numbers – that concern me too somewhat.

December 6, 2009 at 1:54 pm 16 comments

Ram Brewery Inquiry is over: what next?

Author: Shirley Passmore

The Public Inquiry is over. To be honest, much of the time was taken up by anything but the public’s views on the proposed re-development of the sites.

The Wandsworth Society was given a fair hearing of its case against, but the rest of the local public was relegated to one day out of the 20 days of actual inquiry time.

All individuals spoke, and listed, very good reasons for asking the Inspectors to recommend refusal to the Secretary of State. Some, I think, said things that the SofS will have to consider seriously, included amongst these was Cyril Richert’s paper for the Clapham Junction Action Group.

Lined up against the public’s amateurs were three QC’s. The most formidable was Russell Harris for Minerva, who has won numerous similar Inquiries. The Wandsworth Society did not go on the final day to hear his summing up. To listen to his, no doubt competent, attempt to destroy the public’s case would have been too depressing.

There were six main issues to be resolved:

1. Did it comply with Governmental, Regional, and Local Planning Policies for the area?

2. Was it acceptable not to provide an adequate number of affordable homes or a mixed community (by having a majority of one-bedroom flats, no family homes, and the affordable homes on one site only)? Did the development conform to good design and standards for housing ?

3. Could the transport system cope?

4. Did the proposals contravene all the Planning Policies that seek to protect the historic environment and, in this case, the many listed buildings on the site and surrounding it? Would it have an adverse effect on the setting and character of the Wandsworth Town Conservation Area?

5. Was it unsafe to put a glass tower of people next to a gasholder of potentially explosive methane gas?

6. Was it acceptable to approve a possibly unacceptable (in planning terms) development because it might provide enough funds to remove Wandsworth’s gyratory road system?

When will we hear the decision and what will it be?

Neither question is answerable but we can at least hazard a guess. The first is the simpler. It is unlikely that it will take less than three months, probably considerably longer because of the complexities of some of the issues.

The second…..who knows?

All the Planning Policies relating to Issues 1, and 4, are open to interpretation. The Wandsworth Society and individuals put forward telling evidence of the environmental damage that will be done but it’s largely a matter of opinion…. The inspectors, the public’s, Minerva’s.

Issue 3 was won by the public. As things stand it is obvious that the public transport system cannot take yet more development in the area. But, of course that depends on the outcome of Issue 6.

Issue 6 will probably decide the result of Issue 2 also. Ironically, Issue 6 is not part of the planning application but an add-on to make it acceptable. The most telling admissions from witnesses for both WBC and the GLA was that without the road proposals they would not have recommended approval.

The most complicated and time-consuming issue of the whole Inquiry was Issue 5, the case against put by the Health & Safety Executive. It is accepted that the likelihood of the gasholder exploding in a fireball is not great, but the trouble with anything that might happen once in a thousand years is that you never can tell when the ‘once’ will happen. Debate revolved around how serious the results of an explosion would be.

If the HSE have won their case the proposals will be refused planning permission . If the Inspectors feel strongly that the development is unacceptable for other reasons, they have enough Planning Policy ammunition to shoot the proposals down. On the other hand, the benefit of any doubt has to go to the developer because the local planning authority (WBC) and the GLA / Mayor of London have (to their shame) already approved these proposals. Proposals that will alter the character of Wandsworth, both the town and the borough, for ever.

December 5, 2009 at 2:02 pm 3 comments

Ram Brewery inquiry: report on week 5

Author: Shirley Passmore

This week, week 5 of the Inquiry, will firstly be about what is called the Section 106 agreement between the council and Minerva on how much money will be forthcoming, and when, for a variety of requirements made necessary as a result of the development, plus other money used as a kind of bribe to get the proposals acceptable. This latter is £38,000,000 for removal of the Wandsworth gyratory system. There has to be a legally binding document. and as at last week, we believe this had still to be settled. Then there will be discussion on what conditions should be made if the Sec of State decides to grant permission.

On Wednesday there are to be site visits by the inspectors with, among others, representatives of the objectors .

On Thursday, probably the last day,the legal teams will sum up their cases. Firstly the HSE lawyer, then Mr Hobson QC for the London Mayor. He will be followed by Mr Cameron for WBC, and finally Mr Harris QC for Minerva who has the last word.

It has been a long, sometimes tedious Inquiry, but the inspectors can be in no doubt that local people do not want massive towers looming over them and stealing the sky. Whether the inspectors can agree with us that the proposals do not conform to enough planning policies to warrant refusal, only time will tell. I think we shall have some months to wait.

December 1, 2009 at 8:09 am


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