Archive for January, 2010

Planning consultation: only 1 week to submit your view

Author: Cyril Richert

A public meeting was organised yesterday, Thursday 28th January, by the Putney Society to present Wandsworth Borough Council’s new plans to guide the form and shape of re- developments in the borough over the next decade or so. The room in the Brewer Building, St Mary’s Church (Putney Bridge) was full, showing the great concern of the local residents. Martin Howell, Group Planner, Policy and Information at the Town Hall, gave an illustrated presentation of the plans and answered the questions.

The Core Strategy (which sets out the the Council’s vision on the development of the borough for the next 15 years – more explanation here), part of the Local Development Framework (LDF) for Wandsworth borough, was submitted to the Secretary of State in March 2009.

The independent Planning Inspector undertaking the examination of the documents  identified concerns in relation to the policies and supporting evidence on affordable housing and tall buildings particularly, and the lack of comprehensive table indicating the relationship between the Core Strategy policies, the related infrastructure requires to deliver the policies and the indicators which will be used to monitor delivery of the plan.

In order for the Council to submit additional documentation, the process was delayed, submissions received by the Inspector up to Friday 6 November 2009 and an initial meeting took place with the Inspector on December 8th. The examination of the Core Strategy will take place at the Town Hall starting on Tuesday 2 February. You can see the schedule in our Agenda page.

Tall buildings, the main concern of the residents, will be the main subject on Thursday 4th. We were invited to participate to the debate along with the Wandsworth Society, the Putney Society and the Battersea Society, as we have submitted a joint statement during the consultation phase. Unfortunately I cannot make any meeting next week but we will be represented by John Dawson, chair of the Wandsworth Society.

The Wandsworth Local Development Document comprises the Development Management Policies Document (DMPD) and the Site-Specific Allocations Document – Preferred Options (SSAD). They can be seen in local libraries or on the Council’s website (as they are often renamed, or moved, we have made available the latest version on our website: SSAD1 & SSAD2). The plans are out for consultation until … next week, February 5th!

The new policy is meant to be evidence-based where plans need to be:

  1. justified
  2. effective
  3. consistent with national policy

The process of defining the new policy, which is going to replace the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) adopted in August 2003, can be long and require a lot of efforts. The Inspector will decide whether the documents submitted by the Council are sound; if the policy is not successful, the Council will have to say how it will be rectified. Albeit criticisms on its complexity, the process can be credited for providing better guidelines for developers, which has been requested for a very long time by the amenity Societies.

The SSAD is meant to go before the Council in July 2010 for a first review and could be adopted in April 2012. The new documents are subject to modifications after the consultation phase and therefore cannot be used in current planning applications: only the existing UDP and the London Plan may be considered, at least until later this summer, repeated Martin Howell. The current UDP does not have any mention of size for buildings (tall buildings are those which exceed their surrounding…).

However, as we can hope, the new size limits specified in the SSAD do not come out of thin air, and we can reasonably assume that they are based on solid arguments. Therefore, I have difficulties understanding why those arguments are not used in current planning applications! An example? Osiers Road, where the SSAD says that “applications for buildings of more than 18 storeys will generally be unacceptable, and will only be considered in exceptional circumstances” but a 21-storey tower and high density (contradictory to London policy framework) were quickly approved by the Council on January 7th.

Explanation was asked on the wording “exceptional circumstances” to describe conditions where buildings exceeding the maximum size for the location would be considered. Martin Howell said that it will be the case when planning application will provide important benefits for the community. Section 106 (i.e. will the developer needs just to pay a bit more to get its scheme approved?)

As I said previously the SSAD consultation is only open until end of next week (Friday 5th). It started on December 11th. What did you say? You did not hear about it? Well, same outcry was heard yesterday night from the public. Martin Howell explained that a statutory notice was published in the Wandsworth Guardian and a few posters displayed in some estates. However the Council missed the deadline for Brightside! [For information 150,000 copies of Brightside are distributed for free to every household in the borough to be compared with only a share of the 67,000 copies sold for the Wandsworth Guardian (figure made by the combination of Putney, Balham and Streatham editions)]

Therefore only a few comments on the SSAD (about 20 according to Martin Howell) have been received by the Council so far! We urge you the have your say and let the Council know what you think. You don’t need to comment on the whole document (about 200 pages for the SSAD) but can concentrate on your area of interest. I will try to submit a representation for Clapham Junction: albeit being removed from the tall building preferred zone, they display up to 20-storey buildings for the station site, which is, in my view, still too high for the area, considering the extended zone of residential Edwardian and Victorian houses and the iconic Arding and Hobbs building of no more than 6-8 storeys; but please don’t wait for me 😉

Presentations can be send by email to: planningpolicy@wandsworth.gov.uk

or by post:
Planning Policy, Technical Services Department,
Town Hall, Wandsworth High Street,
London, SW18 2PU

Forms can be found in local libraries. You can also contribute directly on the Council’s website HERE.

You letter could be made with the following points:

  1. Do you consider the Core Strategy is sound? = Yes/No
  2. Do you consider the Core Strategy is unsound because it is not = (1) Justified/(2) Effective/(3) Consistent with national policy
  3. Please give details of why you consider the relevant Core Strategy policy is not legally compliant or is unsound. Please be as precise as possible. If you wish to support the legal compliance or soundness of the DPD, please also use this box to set out your comments. = … (the term relates to specific tests of soundness given in government guidance PPS12)
  4. Please set out what change(s) you consider necessary to make the Core Strategy legally compliant or sound, having regard to the test you have identified in the question above (Justified/ Effective/ Consistent with National Policy) where this relates to soundness. You will need to say why this change will make the DPD legally compliant or sound. It will be helpful if you are able to put forward your suggested revised wording of any policy or text. Please be as precise as possible. = …
  5. If your representation is seeking a change, do you consider it necessary to participate at the oral part of the examination? = NO/YES, I wish to participate at the oral examination
  6. If you wish to participate at the oral part of the examination, please outline why you consider this to be necessary: = …

Last but not least: big thank to Martin Howell who took time to explain about the Council’s work and was in the challenging position of representing the Council’s views.

January 29, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Meeting with Peabody Trust

Author: Cyril Richert, reviewed by Shirley Passmore and Claire Bennie

Meeting with Peabody Trust – 22 January 2010

Attendees:
Claire Bennie  [Peabody Trust – Deputy Head of Development]

Cyril Richert [CJAG]
Shirley Passmore [CJAG]

Following our report of the scheme to redevelop Peabody Estate in Clapham Junction, Claire Bennie, who is managing the project, offered to meet with us and explain the need, the purpose and the consultation process.

It was a very pleasant, constructive and open conversation for more than 2 hours and we will try to report below the essence of the discussion.

Founded in 1862 by London-based American banker George Peabody, the Peabody Trust, known for short as “Peabody”, is one of London’s oldest and largest housing associations with about 19,000 properties across the capital.

Six years ago, the government created a series of criteria defining a minimum standard for estates. Peabody calculated the cost to them would be £150m and therefore immediately stopped talking about new building and concentrated its effort on refurbishing instead. In the process, they identified 4 estates were they thought it could be better to redevelop rather than to repair, and Clapham Junction is one of them.

Clapham Junction estate contains 351 flats (275 affordable rented and 76 short-term leases). In the 60’s they converted all the flats by making bathrooms within the properties. 13 years ago they replaced the windows. However Peabody is considering now the possibility of redeveloping the site with a totally new estate.

Right from the beginning they have involved the tenants and started the discussions at the beginning of 2007. The residents helped in choosing the designer. Following rules from the European Union, they called for an international competition and eventually chose Hawkins Brown to draw up plans for a £100 million new estate (to be compared with a cost of £8-10m to refurbish only). An independent agency was asked to do a survey and they got a positive reaction from the neighbourhood. However some concerns were raised mainly:

  1. size of some of the buildings
  2. density
  3. parking

Peabody started to talk with the borough planners in February-March 2008 about their scheme.

The economic crisis in 2008 halted the plan and they did not do anything in 2009. However they recalculated the economic potential of the redevelopment of the site at the end of 2009 and as it looked financially viable, they decided to restart the process.

During the consultation process the role of the Societies (primarily the Battersea Society and the Wandsworth Society regarding the location of the area) was highlighted with regard to the effect on the local area.

Particular consideration will be given to:

  • density (in relation to the London plan)
  • private amenities and space
  • parking (although there are different opinions on car policy, any residential building attracts cars, even if only usage at weekends)

Albeit being a non-profit organisation, they have to make the scheme pay for itself and therefore aim to maximise the density and potential of the site. This will also mean some of the properties will be for private sale.

Of course the question of the size of the towers was raised. On the current sketches, they show a 21-storey tower, along with  a 13-storey and 10-storey building. Located at the top of the hill, they will appear to be about 28 storeys when viewed from Arding and Hobbs and will nearly double the size of the estate in Grant Road (Peabody said that the datum heights between the Clapham Junction crossroads and the Peabody site will be measured accurately using OS data to ensure that everyone has the same data.).

They are concerned with the planning documents produced by the Council stating that (Site Specific Allocations Document – p94):

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.

But they also highlight apparent contradiction in the wording of the same documents as it also says:

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.

Therefore they will seek to clarify the guidelines with the Council. They also wish to discuss with the local residents and amenity groups. If the property market seems to flourish again, they could achieve the same benefits with a lower density and smaller buildings, or could position the buildings in a different way. However they have tried to minimise the impact on the adjacent properties near the common, as well as protecting the residents from the railway noise with taller buildings on the other side.

In terms of design Peabody will pay the utmost attention to reaching the highest quality. The statement to give all residents private, outdoor space, will be addressed by providing balcony or roof terraces to all flats, or private communal gardens. Parking spaces will be built under raised-gardens and directly accessible through the streets in the estate.

The scheme will be a mix between rented social housing grants and the sale of private homes with approximately:

  • 32%: 1 bedroom flats/houses
  • 32%: 2 bedroom
  • 32%: 3 bedroom
  • 4%: 4 bedroom

It is proposed that the private and rented homes will be mixed within the estate.

Current residents will be relocated block by block (flats on temporary leases will be emptied to be available for the relocation of tenants).

The schedule could be:

  1. September 2010: planning application
  2. 2011-2020 (upon approval): work

Peabody Trust aims to organise about three further meetings with the local community before a planning application is submitted, each of which would be held in advance of three similar meetings with the town planners. We suggested that a mock-up of the scheme could be on display permanently in one of the lodges in the estate for instance.

January 27, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Secondary school

Author: Cyril Richert

Beside the Neighbourhood School Campaign for a secondary school in the area of Clapham Junction (possible site being the former Bolingbroke hospital) I quickly publish below 3 links to be added to the debate:

  • Three Wandsworth secondary schools are among the country’s top performers in this year’s national league tables. A press release from Wandsworth Council said:

From a total of 3,196 state secondary schools, Southfields Community College and Chestnut Grove School recorded the fifth and ninth highest scores respectively in the Contextual Value Added (CVA) league table.

In addition, Ernest Bevin College was named the fifth most improved school in the country with GCSE results rising 35 per cent over the last four years.

  • Just two companies remain on the shortlist of firms bidding for Wandsworth’s Building Schools for the Future contract. A press release from Wandsworth Council said:

Bovis Lend Lease Ltd and Willmott Dixon Ltd have been selected to go through to the final stage of the tendering process. A preferred bidder is expected to be chosen by the end of July.

They will produce detailed plans for investment in the two ‘sample’ schools, Southfields Community College and Burntwood School, and ICT investment across all the schools.

A new Catholic secondary school, Saint John Bosco, will also be built as part of the project and Elliot School in Putney will be completely remodelled.

January 26, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Looking back

Found in the Wandsworth Guardian.

January 25, 2010 at 1:21 pm 1 comment

Draw your own conclusion in 3 steps

Author: Cyril Richert

Step1: The Inspector criticizes Wandsworth Borough Council for its lack of evidence on defining tall buildings area and supporting evidence

In a letter received on September 24th 2009, we can read:

Following submission [of the new Core Strategy/vision of the Council for the future of the borough], the Inspector undertaking the Examination of the Core Strategy identified concerns in relation to the policies and supporting evidence on affordable housing and tall buildings, and the lack of comprehensive table indicating the relationship between the Core Strategy policies, the related infrastructure requires to deliver the policies and the indicators which will be used to monitor delivery of the plan.

The Council has now provided the Inspector with the additional information required, including an affordable housing economic viability assessment and a Stage One Urban Design Statement and is proposed a number of changes to the Core Strategy. As recommended by the Inspector, the Council is now consulting on the proposed changes to the Core Strategy […] All other proposed changes [i.e. except percentage of affordable homes] in relation to tall buildings and affordable housing  are open to representations in relation to soundness!”

(click on the image to enlarge).

WBC-Consultation Core Strategy Letter 1/2 WBC-Consultation Core Strategy Letter 2/2

The Inspector’s concerns in relation to tall buildings reflected the representations made by EH on the proposed submission version, namely that the tall buildings policy has not been informed by an urban design study in accordance with the Government endorsed EH/CABE “Guidance on Tall Buildings 2007”.

Step2: The Council publish a Sites Specific Allocations (SSAD1 & SSAD2) where guidelines are made for size of buildings in specific areas of the borough

To address English Heritage’s and the Inspector’s concerns, the Planning Service produced a high level urban design statement, bringing together the information that was used to identify the locations which may be suitable for tall buildings (PAPER NO. 09-744 / PLANNING AND TRANSPORTATION OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – 10TH SEPTEMBER 2009 / EXECUTIVE – 14TH SEPTEMBER 2009).

The Council published a map with colours of preferable heights (P78 of SSAD2).

I specifically highlight the location of Osiers Estate on the map.

  • Numbers without brackets: height at which buildings are considered tall buildings.
  • Numbers inside brackets: height above which buildings are unlikely to be considered acceptable.

In addition in SSAD1, p74, you can read:

Views: High building proposals could have an impact on sensitive views of the site from Wandsworth Park, the Thames and Wandle Riversides and from the opposite bank of the Thames, particularly Hurlingham Park. More local views from the Spit and The Causeway, including Causeway Island, will be important and should be considered.

Tall buildings: In accordance with the Council’s Stage 2 Urban Design Study – Tall Buildings, applications for development of 9 storeys and above will be subject to the criteria of the tall buildings policy contained in the emerging DMPD. Applications for buildings of more than 18 storeys will generally be unacceptable, and will only be considered in exceptional circumstances. Any tall building proposed should not harm sensitive views from Wandsworth Park and the Thames riverside or the setting of Prospect House, Point Pleasant – listed grade II.

Step3: The Council approved a 21 storey tower in Osiers Industrial Estate

Redevelopment of Osiers Industrial Estate (1-20 ENTERPRISE WAY – existing 20 storage and sheds located to the North and South of Enterprise Way ) application 2009/3017 went before the planning committee on the 7 January 2010

The conclusion in report of the planning officer said:

The 21-storey tower challenges the policy framework for the redevelopment […].With this aspect of the scheme the judgement for the Committee is whether the benefits the scheme will bring for the regeneration, townscape and public realm justify its inclusion in the proposals.

The very high density of the development in a poor PTAL [transport facilities] area also poses a challenge to the policy framework.

However the recommendation was to grant permission and the Council approved the scheme in a straight forward decision where only the 2 Labour Councillors opposed.

It includes a tower of 21 stories. There is no exceptional circumstances highlighted in the report.

Draw your own conclusion…!

Regarding specifically Osiers Estate, Stuart King, Labour parliamentary candidate for Putney wrote a statement on his blog and is said to petition the local residents.  Others will meet with Justine Greening (Putney MP) to talk about the issue.

January 23, 2010 at 3:26 pm 3 comments

Network Rail said: CJ has received already a lot of money, don’t expect more in the next 10 years!

Author: Cyril Richert

Meeting with Network Rail – 21 January 2010 – 1pm-2.30pm

Attendees:
Paula Haustead [Network Rail – in charge of delivering plans for CJ]
Lucy Norton [Network Rail]
Chris Wiggan [Network Rail]
Cyril Richert [CJAG]

1- Current situation

They have been deeply disappointed by the recommendation for refusal coming from the planning officers for the planning proposal from Metro Shopping Fund (Delancey). They said that (contrary to our sources) there was no plan for Clapham Junction before the Twin Towers (I was told not to use those cursed words) Delancey’s plan. Actually Network Rail (NR) worked since CP2 (Control Period 2 – funding period 2001-2004) and for 5 years (2004-2009) with Delancey and the Council to come up with a proposal. They also said that it was part of their instruction from Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) to work with third parties and private investors.  The total cost of that study was £2m!

They are currently spending money on a new entrance (Brighton Yard entrance) which  will hopefully direct 30% of the flow of passengers entering or exiting the station at St John’s Hill currently. According to projections of ORR  it should cover up to the year 2026 when the same level of congestion currently experienced will be observed again.

The East London Line will arrive in platform 2 (instead of 1 as originally planned) and wCJ-platform1ill be sharing with the over-ground. Platform 1 will stay unused as it is. However they are likely to keep the track in case it is needed in the future.

Plans for Heathrow link are still under discussions and there is no confirmation that it will stop at Clapham Junction (again, this is not what we heard).

The number of overground trains going to and coming from Willesden Junction should double (NR proposes to restore double track to the “Latchmere Curve” during the summer of 2010. This will enable the frequency of overground services to Willesden Junction to be increased to 4 trains per hour from 2011).

2- On going improvements

The cost of the new entrance is £1.5m with £500k coming from the government, £300k from the Council (not redirected from the Exemplar Scheme as we might have suspected previously) and £700k coming from various funding, including TfL and London Heritage (?). NR made very clear that it was the only station in the all country with “Access for All” scheme providing a new entrance.

From the £2m planned for cosmetic improvement (repainting, lightening, canopies,…) some will be redirected to pay for the Brighton Yard entrance (as a cost example, a single ticket barrier is £30k). The global funding for Brighton Yard was overseen by an industry group called The Clapham Junction Forum made by NR, London Underground, TfL, SWT, Southern.

Lifts are currently installed on all platforms (part of the “Access for All” government policy). Original funding from the government was £8.5m but they think now that costs will exceed this amount. Work is meant to finish in June 2010 and at the same time a temporary “smaller” station entrance for Brighton Yard will be opened (example of what it coult be in the picture below).

Brighton Yard - new entranceBrighton Yard - new station location

I asked them about the possibility to create a stair-case at the level of Brighton Yard entrance, coming from St John’s Hill (see current plans from NR HERE) to avoid going all along to reach the vehicle entrance. However they explained that:

  1. it is about 6m high and it seems to much;
  2. it would mean reallocating/6 month notice for the shop under the arches at the point;
  3. they do not have the funding.

They had some delays as they needed to destroy a café on platform 15/16 to install the lift. However as the whole station is in the Conservation area, it took an extensive (and difficult) 6 month period to get the necessary authorisation. Although the bridge is not listed, this experience makes it really unlikely that they will look for more amendments in the future.

Bus stops won’t be reallocated (road to narrow) but an additional bus stop will be created before the entrance coming from Wandsworth town.

The £20m allocated to platform lengthening and straightening at CJ is no longer considered necessary and goes back to the pot of funding for all Sussex lines! They managed to realign the platform 15/16 without the land that was meant to be provided with Delancey’s plan (no talks about platforms 11/12 and 13/14 which were in funding period CP4 2009-2013 – p63).

3- Presentation to Lord Adonis, January 20th

The Transport Secretary wanted to know what is happening after his announcement. At the meeting he requested (January 20th) were representations for the 10 stations included in the plan. Cllr Edward Lister (leader of Wandsworth Council) was also attending the meeting.

They confirmed that Clapham Junction has been defined as the most in need along with Manchester Victoria station (receiving £10m apparently). A decision was made to concentrate on a few major improvements instead of spreading the funding on a lick of paint (although you could spend £2m repainting CJ station, they said).

As was reported by Martin Linton before, they suggested spending the funding on facilities for passengers inside the station, mainly platforms 9/10, 11/12, 13/14:

  • Canopy extension.
  • Waiting rooms.
  • More staff.
  • More stairs (from the overpass).
  • Repairs on subway.

No plans for station concourse, entrance refurbishment/extension.

As we already urged Lord Adonis to better use the funding for providing a more ambitious vision on the future of the station, I was told that:

  1. they were presented with reports (from South West Train?) from passenger demands for better platforms
  2. extending canopies will avoid people packing at the same points under adverse weather conditions and therefore will improve train usage
  3. NR has a mission to focus on train users and passenger needs, not residents. Therefore they shouldn’t be the prime initiator for CJ station regeneration.

I was told that those proposals were supported by South West Train, Southern, TfL and Wandsworth Council (Cllr Lister). You will notice that I asked if the Council thinks that providing waiting rooms and canopy extension (although very welcome) are much more important than refurbishment of Grant Road for example, I was quickly answered: “No, no, that’s not what I said“.

The CJ investment paper should be signed off mid/late February.

As shown on the picture taken the day of the meeting on platform 10 at Clapham Junction, they are already installing waiting area (probably part of the £2m “cosmetic” improvements). But NR was not aware of anything and surprised when I raised the point.

4- Regeneration of the station and CP5

As Robin Gisby will be in in charge of overseeing the current improvements, Paul Plummers should be in charge of defining next funding period for 2014-2019 also known as CP5.

However, it was repeated several times, there won’t be much allocation for Clapham Junction station in CP5 as it already received a lot currently!!!

NR said they do not see the £5-10m funding provided by Lord Adonis as an emergency funding to make the station – branded second worst in the country – up to a minimum standard. Therefore it might be seen by NR as a welcomed CP5 advance funding and could explain why they now consider that they will concentrate next funding effort on other stations.

Conclusion

It is clear that NR considers that its priority is for passengers, not residents. They said that the local authorities should take their responsibilities if they want to regenerate the area and provide with the necessary funding. Therefore they do not intend to come forward with any plan for making Clapham Junction a better station from the outside.

Of course they welcome any element of survey or consultation that we might present, but our discussion should also involve South West Train, Southern, Tfl, and local authorities. It seems that they won’t ask for any more funding for Clapham Junction station for CP5 if the Council does not come forward with some vision of what could be done and of course a beginning of a funding. After all, even if NR provided the biggest part of Birmingham New Street redevelopment, they were only focusing on the station and it was the local authorities who developed the vision, they added.

Therefore it looks like they put the ball into Wandsworth Borough Council hands now!

January 22, 2010 at 12:05 pm 5 comments

Meetings with rail officers

Author: Cyril Richert

Meeting with Office of Rail Regulation – 16 November 2009

Attendees:
John Larkinson [Deputy Director ORR]
Nick O’Hara [Head of Corporate and Industry Relations ORR]
Martin Linton [MP for Battersea]
Tony Belton [Leader of Opposition Wandsworth Borough Council]
Cyril Richert [CJAG]
Kate Williams [CJAG]

This meeting was organised by Martin Linton in view of exploring possible funding for the redevelopment of Clapham Junction Station.

We were explained the role of Office of Rail Regulation in regulating Network Rail and making sure that government plans, Network Rail commitment and funding are all addressing their purposes. The current phase of funding is 2009-2013. There are currently limited additional funding immediately available but which we can explore with Network Rail: Network Rail Discretionary Fund (NRDF) [each scheme must not exceed £5m] and National Stations Improvement Programme (NSIP) [£165m for 150 stations]. The new planning process for the next government is starting in 2010 such as:

  1. 2010: the industry will come with options (definition of projects and allocations).
  2. 2011: the government will examine a draft proposal.
  3. July 2012: the government will provide new specifications.
  4. 2013: ORR will review, analyse and check the funding for 2014-2019 (CP5).
  5. 2014: project implementation for CP5.

ORR was very receptive to our concerns and confirmed that Network Rail is the first contact to station redevelopment and has an obligation to address projects that they receive (they get a £50m budget to do so). Of course it would be worth to involve the franchise companies (South West Train, Southern) and TfL (for overground and East London Line).

Meeting with Network Rail – 7 January 2010

Martin Linton met with Robin Gisby (Network Rail – Director, Operation and Customer Services) along with colleagues Timothy Potter and Paula Haustead, Lucy Norton (who will be responsible for delivering any improvement project to redevelop the station). Unfortunately, despite Martin Linton’s request, Robin Gisby’s office did not find appropriate for us to attend the meeting, but instead offered another date (to our request) in January (see below).

NR confirmed that Clapham Junction station was their top 2 priority (after Manchester Victoria station , officially branded worst station in Britain in November 2009, which will receive also additional funding from the European Union through their Council). The debate is apparently going on whether to redevelop half of the station well or all of it half-good (er, it is actually more a question of 10% redevelopment or all the station with small repairs and cosmetic improvements I think). NR should present a plan to Lord Adonis, Transport Secretary, on January 20th regarding:

  • Canopy extension.
  • Waiting rooms.
  • More staff.
  • More stairs (from the overpass).
  • Repairs on subway.

The “not so good” news is that only 3 lifts should be in operation (platforms 1/2, 3/4, 5/6) with an additional two coming soon (platforms 7/8, 9/10) but there are delays on the remaining (platforms 11/12, 13/14, 15/16, 17). In addition, as the Brighton Yard building is currently used as a construction site for storage mainly, work for the new station entrance is being delayed and should only be finished by 2011 (which means that CJ won’t be step free before this date).

January 20, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Letter to Lord Adonis, Transport Secretary

London, 13 January 2010

Dear Lord Adonis

Mr Linton has kindly agreed to deliver this letter to you, and we hope very much that you will consider it carefully and reply in due course.

We are a local action group committed to improving conditions at Clapham Junction Station. Last year we were instrumental in stopping a commercial development of the station site which, in the opinion of the many hundreds of residents who took the trouble to write letters to Wandsworth Council, would have done nothing to alleviate the problems of the station whilst proposing an over-development of the site which was entirely out of context with the area.

Thanks to your Station Champions initiative Clapham Junction station has been recognised in a Government report as being the second worst in the country due to its overcrowding, lack of facilities and dilapidated condition. We thank you for visiting the station in November and understand that you were also appalled at what you saw. Indeed you were quoted as saying:

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.

As a result of the report, at least £5 million and maybe significantly more has now been made available to fund immediate improvements. We understand that you will be meeting with Network Rail on 20th January to hear their proposals which, we understand, will be restricted to extending canopies, repairing the subway, and providing additional staff, waiting rooms and more stairs from the over-pass to the platforms. Funding is already in place to provide a third, step-free access from Brighton Yard and to go ahead with much needed platform lengthening and straightening works.

Whilst extremely welcome, these measures do not go far enough to tackle the fundamental problems of the station. The main station entrances on St John’s Road and Grant Road are on the scale of small tube stations and will remain poky and overcrowded. The subway will remain congested with regular queues building up to pass through the ticket barriers, and the rickety over-bridge will retain its antiquated ‘seaside-pier’ ambiance, providing only the most basic access, with none of the facilities which the public expects of a major 21st century railway station and interchange.

What is required is a long term vision for the station with substantial funding being made available in the next review period from 2014. The short-term funding which has recently been announced should form part of this longer-term vision, and not act as a constraint on future redevelopment. For example, if new canopies and stairs are being proposed now, then they should be designed with a longer term goal in mind to modernise the existing overpass and underpass and extend their facilities in the future. Otherwise, there is a real risk that the money being made available will be wasted.

We would suggest that Network Rail should invite design proposals immediately for a full redevelopment of the station to meet its current and future needs, and that the new funding should be integrated within these proposals as a first stage to a full redevelopment. There is a need to provide new station entrances linking the overpass and underpass both at St John’s Hill and Grant Road, and any current proposals relating to these structures should be designed so that they may, in future, be fully integrated within this wider redevelopment.

We enclose with this letter a draft dossier that we have produced setting out the challenges for Network Rail together with some suggestions as to how these might in future be addressed (we are currently in the process of collecting views of local residents too that we intend to communicate to Network Rail). These are by no means the only solutions which might be considered. Network Rail’s framework designers and contractors might propose alternative solutions which could prove equally effective in addressing both the current problems of the station and its future expansion. Above all, it is incumbent on the government to ensure that the new public money that has been made available is spent wisely in providing facilities which will see the test of time, and not be rendered obsolete by a future redevelopment.

We will be meeting with Network Rail ourselves on 21st January and hope that by that time you will have passed on the message that further, significant measures will be required in the next funding period. We look forward very much to hearing of your discussions, and would be extremely happy to meet with you at any time.

With kindest regards

Kate Williams and Cyril Richert

January 19, 2010 at 8:24 pm 5 comments

Towers and density approved by the Council in Osiers Estate, Wandsworth Town

Author: Cyril Richert

Just hundred yards away from the site where the majority of the planning committee approved the skyscrapers proposal for the Ram Brewery site in December 2008 (called in by the Secretary of State and subject of a Public Inquiry last November), a scheme including a 21 storey-tower was approved last week. Similar arguments against high density, size and increased pressure on public transport in an already congested location. More than 100 objections. Same story also as Labour councillors Belton and Randall opposed the scheme, which resulted in a split vote 6/2 in favour on January 7th 2010.

The planning application 2009/3017 (Enterprise Way – Osiers Industrial Estate) is described as demolition of existing buildings an erection of 8 buildings ranging in height from 2 to 21 storeys comprising 275 flats of which 89 would be affordable; 3,587sq.m. of commercial floor space to include shops, financial and professional services, restaurant, food and drinking uses, office , health and leisure uses. Basement car parking provided for 165 vehicles with vehicle access onto Enterprise Way. Provision of landscaping and ecological enhancements, including new surfacing to Enterprise Way and Wandle Riverside area.


Currently                                                            Planning

The Planning report that I will refer to below is available HERE (pdf).

Residential Units

In the immediate proximity (Wandsworth Riverside Quarter) 204 flats have been built and an additional 504 residential units are proposed (of which 187 would be “affordable”). As a reminder, the Ram Brewery development, also approved by Wandsworth Council is proposing 1000 new apartments.

The quantum of affordable housing represents 32% of the overall units and it is said that any increase of contribution or affordable housing would render the scheme un-viable. The GLA highlight that considering the lack of information regarding residential quality and amenity, the proposal cannot be considered acceptable at this stage. Although they do not criticize the design, they highlight that the ground floor proposal does not comply with London Plan Policy and ask the Council to consider the impact on the immediate local and wider context.

Transport

Regarding transport, it is considered that there is a convenient access to local amenities with Wandsworth Town Station a 600m walk and close to East Putney Underground station and bus roads with existing spare capacity according to TfL. However (as also highlighted in the Ram Brewery scheme), Wandsworth Town station  operates in excess of 116% but the development is said not to create any significant worsening (although if you add all the current plannings you can seriously wonder if any consideration was given to the long term issue).

Section 106

The developers have calculated their contribution to the public realm under section 106 to £1.4m which raises questions due to its very low level (in comparison, for example, with the £41m proposed for the Ram Brewery scheme). The Wandsworth NHS has requested an additional contribution of £1.2m which the developers have dismissed. The planning officer recommended an overall contribution for a total of £2.3m.

Consultation

I counted 106 objections (not 72 as in the report). Considering the area, mostly consisting of unused (but listed) buildings, industries and commercial units, along with the 8-storey Council offices, it is not surprising that the level of representations would be different from an area such as Clapham Junction, located at the heart of a thriving important area of Victorian and Edwardian houses (similar level of presentations as for the Ram Brewery development and same comment). However more than 100 objections and no support at all should be addressed effectively by the Council.

Objections say that the development is too dense and out of character and proportion with the surrounding, Wandsworth park is already over-used and proposed improvements not significant in respect to the size of the development, that the number of car parking is insufficient and that Wandsworth Town Station is already overcrowded.

Councillor Maddan (Conservatives) also objected and underlined several inaccuracies (such as saying that there is a boat service, assuming rail plans while not committed, reference to the Bolingbroke hospital while the site is closed…).

The Wandsworth Society said that the proposal to change the use of the site from industrial employment to mix-use residential/commercial has yet to be approved. The density (864hrph) is about twice the one recommended by the London plan (300-650hrph) for site as this with PTAL2 (Public Transport Accessibility Level). The planning officer, talking about density, confirmed that the proposed schemed is in considerable excess of both the urban and central setting (page 53 of the report). The development includes also a tower several stories higher than any other buildings built or planned between the River Wandle or Wandsworth Park.

Town planning policy

Wandsworth Borough Council current draft Site Specific Allocations Document says (p73 p74):

Applications for buildings of more than 12 18 storeys will generally be unacceptable, and will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Comment from the report of Planning Officer said (p61):

The 21-storey tower challenges the policy framework for the redevelopment here as did the 15-storey WRQ Phase III proposal in 2007. With this aspect of the scheme the judgement for the Committee is whether the benefits the scheme will bring for the regeneration, townscape and public realm justify its inclusion in the proposals.

Decision

The proposal was approved by the planning committee on the 7 January 2010 (with the 2 Labour councillors opposing – read comment on their website). Tony Belton said:

All the Tory councillors on the Committee voted for the application but without having much to say in support of it. One of them said that it would be “good” for the Government’s healthy living programme if residents had to walk that distance for the crowded 220 bus!

[I have contacted Martin Johnson to have a comment on the Conservatives side but have not received a response yet. Of course I will include the view when I get it]

January 13, 2010 at 2:28 pm 4 comments

As a Conservative policy, the Council is supporting the News School Campaign

Author: Cyril Richert

There is an interesting discussion going on since mid-October about the opportunity of a new school in between the commons on the website NappyValleyNet. Some people suggest supporting existing schools already in place and stopping huge amount of pupils travelling from other borough into them, and that support should go on local school rather than avoiding them due to some pre conceived ideas about the kind of children who attend. Others highlight that there is no secondary school in the all area of Clapham Junction and Northcote Road, that Wandsworth closed so many schools in the past and that taxes should provide good local state secondaries in every neighbourhood.

However it seems that the Council is now fully engaged and being openly supportive and bringing in the involvement of relevant shadow cabinet members.

Edward Lister, Leader of the Council, has made a statement to the website NappyValleyNet saying:

I want to keep you up to date with developments on the ‘free school’ plan which is being promoted by the Conservatives’ Shadow Children’s Secretary Michael Gove.

Michael Gove’s team met with my colleagues to discuss the growing interest from parents in parts of Wandsworth and Battersea in setting up their own self-run schools within the state sector.

This was attended by Executive Member for Children and Young People Cllr Kathy Tracey, Chairman of Children and Young People’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee Cllr Peter Dawson and Jane Ellison, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Battersea.

Just because schools are in the state sector, they don’t have to be state-run. Currently the major obstacle to progress is the way central government controls schools’ funding. With a more radical approach we could free up the system so that it positively encourages local alternatives – whether these are led by parents’ groups or private companies.

So we can move this forward we have invited Michael to a meeting with interested parents. This will take place in the next few weeks and we will publish details on nappyvalley.net

I’m also keen that other parents groups around the borough should be aware of the opportunities. Anyone interested in setting up new schools can get in touch direct with the New Schools Network, a charity that offers free support to groups looking to establish non-selective state schools.

I will keep you up-to-date with developments on these exciting changes for parents

An article was published in the Evening Standard on Wednesday 16 December about family run schools:

Click on the image to see it bigger

Website of the New School Campaign: http://www.thensc.net

January 13, 2010 at 9:36 am

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