Posts filed under ‘Tall building policy’

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

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

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

Planning Forum meeting: some feedback

Author: Cyril Richert

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

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

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

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

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

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

The agenda was as follow:-

Section 106

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

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

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

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

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

See our article on section 106 HERE.

Nine Elms

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

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

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

Local Development Framework

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

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

The officers have defined 2 criteria for tall buildings:

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

Documents related are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are being placed in a position of constantly having to object to piecemeal, inappropriate developments that do not address the needs of the local community. […] Finding out what the community wants is actually the best way of making sure that when we get more housing and regeneration it actually works, is something people will want to move into, and that’s in everyone’s interest.

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

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

Next meeting: Tuesday 25 May 2010 – 7pm

November 12, 2009 at 3:26 pm

In the press

Wandsworth Guardian - 091105

On the subject, read our articles:

November 6, 2009 at 11:19 am

Tall building: resubmission to the Council

A few weeks ago Cllr Tony Belton requested information update after our contribution to the debate on the Tall Building policy, currently reviewed (as part of the LDF) by the inspector.

He  received the following response:

Dear Cllr Belton

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the “Tall Buildings submission from amenity groups”.

A joint letter was produced by the amenity groups and was sent to the Planning Inspectorate. I have attached this for your information.

Since the letter was written, at the Inspector’s request, the Council is now consulting on the changes proposed to the Core Strategy post submission, including the policies relating to tall buildings. Letters, informing people of the new consultation, have been sent to everyone who has engaged in the Local Development Framework consultation process, including all of the amenity groups concerned who should now re-submit their comments direct to the Council. Consultation responses should reach the Council by the closing date of 6 November 2009.

I hope this is of assistance.

Regards

Tim Cronin
Head of Development Control

The Clapham Junction Action Group, albeit involved in the submission and being engaged in the LDF debate, has not received the letter. I managed to get a copy of the letter (but if someone from the Town Hall is reading this, it would be nice in the future to send us the information -we are reachable with the contact form, and we can provide further contact details if requested) that you can read below (click on the image to enlarge).

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

The letter says specifically:

As recommended by the Inspector, the Council is now consulting on the proposed changes to the Core Strategy. This is to allow stakeholders to make representations (comments) regarding the soundness of the proposed changes. […] 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!.

The Wandsworth Society has resubmitted today – and addressed to the Council (Martin Howell) – our brief on behalf of the Putney Society, the Battersea Society and the Clapham Junction Action Group.

We are looking forward to the response of the Council.

As stated by the letter, consultation will begin on Friday 25 September 2009. All representations must be received by Friday 6 November 2009.

The Core Strategy Examination Pre hearing Meeting is now expected to take place on 8 December 2009 with the Public Hearing Sessions commencing on 2 February 2010. This should be confirmed by the Planning Inspector in the week commencing 9 November 2009.

UPDATE 06 Nov 2009: After a bit of confusion to where it was sent an who received it, it was definitely confirmed today by Martin Howell (Group Planner – Policy & Information) that our submission was received and will be added to the representations to be considered by the Inspector.

October 23, 2009 at 10:21 am

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

Author: Cyril Richert

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

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

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

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

You can read the full statement HERE.

A synopsis of our views:

“Tall” buildings, those significantly taller than their neighbourhood, must be considered in their urban context. Proposals for such buildings should not simply attempt to show that they do not harm matters their surroundings but that they contribute positively to the character, appearance and quality of their immediate surroundings and the wider area they will affect.

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

Wandsworth Borough is neither a city nor a commercial centre (apart from a small fringe in the Central Activities Zone) but largely urban and residential.

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

  1. TB1 Conservation Areas where historic environmental considerations and character are of significance
  2. TB2 Buffer zones to Conservation Areas where a building would have an adverse effect upon a view or setting or focal point within a Conservation Area
  3. TB3 Transport where proposals are further than 400 metres from a major transport node and/or there is insufficient capacity of, or access to, public transport
  4. TB4 Residential where a proposal will be within or adjacent to a residential area and have an adverse impact on the public and private realm
  5. TB5 Views and Open Spaces where a proposal will have an adverse effect (a) locally and/or (b) in a wider London context upon its open spaces, views and historic buildings, and their settings.

Along with the above specific planning issues, the following matters which arise from the gist of Wandsworth Council’s “tall” buildings policy and our knowledge and experience of the Council’s aims for the future of the Borough, also need consideration when drawing up a policy for “tall” buildings.

  • ‘Landmark’, ‘signature’, ‘iconic’ or similarly described buildings should not be encouraged for their own sake and not where in conflict with 1-5 above.
  • Economics must not be a planning factor determining the future of a site including such issues as site purchase costs.
  • Appropriate publicity should be agreed with Council Members and officials at the pre-application stage and should use images which demonstrably reflect the true appearance, height and mass of the development measurable against neighbouring buildings.
  • Pre-application discussions between developers and Council Members and officials to be minuted and/or recorded and made available to the public recording predictions, understandings and agreements reached between them, the Council’s procedures and negotiations should be transparent.

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

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

3.01 “Tall” buildings, those significantly taller than their neighbourhood, must be considered in their urban context. Proposals for such buildings should not simply attempt to show that they do not harm matters their surroundings but that they contribute positively to the character, appearance and quality of their immediate surroundings and the wider area they will affect.

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

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

· TB1 Conservation Areas where historic environmental considerations and character are of significance

· TB2 Buffer zones to Conservation Areas where a building would have an adverse effect upon a view or setting or focal point within a Conservation Area

· TB3 Transport where proposals are further than 400 metres from a major transport node and/or there is insufficient capacity of, or access to, public transport

· TB4 Residential where a proposal will be within or adjacent to a residential area and have an adverse impact on the public and private realm

· TB5 Views and Open Spaces where a proposal will have an adverse effect (a) locally and/or (b) in a wider London context upon its open spaces, views and historic buildings, and their settings.

3.04 Along with the above specific planning issues, the following matters which arise from the gist of Wandsworth Council’s “tall” buildings policy and our knowledge and experience of the Council’s aims for the future of the Borough, also need consideration when drawing up a policy for “tall” buildings.

· Landmark’, ‘signature’, ‘iconic’ or similarly described buildings should not be encouraged for their own sake and not where in conflict with 1-5 above.

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

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

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

September 14, 2009 at 3:09 pm 2 comments

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