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

New Planning for HiQ Tyreservices – Chatham Road

Author: Julia Matcham

Tyre Services-photoA first application for redevelopping the site of HiQ Tyreservices – Chatham Road was released this summer, but eventually withdrawn a few months later.

The Council has published (6 January 2010) the new application for redevelopment of the site called “HiQ Tyreservices” (76 – 80 Chatham Road SW11, off Northcote Road) involving demolition of existing commercial building to provide a shop, 5 houses and 3 flats , with roof terraces and 6 off-street parking spaces.

There are a number of reasons for opposing this development proposed to replace the very useful HiQ Tyre Services which stands at the bottom of Chatham Road, not least the loss of such a valuable facility.

In this new application, which is very little changed from the last one, the developers are now applying for 8 (instead of 9) residential units, and a shop. This is still far too much. Proposed are 5 x 3 bed units, 1 x 2 bed, 2 x 1 bed, plus a shop which they suggest will have 6 employees.

There are 17 double bed spaces and two single bed spaces. If all the beds were to be occupied, that would mean a possible 36 new residents of Chatham Road.

Add to them the shop employees (estimated by the developers as 6) and please consider the proposed provision of 6 car parking spaces!

Allowing developers to cram people into small gardenless ‘units’ has a deleterious effect on the community. We would like people to be able to enjoy living in this road and be part of a neighbourly situation.

The word ‘units’ describes the situation perfectly. People are not happy in units… they move on as fast as they can. Five decent houses in that area would be quite enough and would be more likely to contribute to a stable friendly community.

Not long ago we have had a block of 6 houses built where Crete Shipping used to be. More recently we have had 4 big residential units built at the back of areas that used to service the community. At the top of the road Robert Hughes’ building got a change from working units to ‘live-work’. This road is already densely occupied.

The loss of HiQ Tyre Services, which is in fact a general purposes garage, will be a serious blow to many local residents. There are fewer and fewer such facilities as the value of the real-estate eclipses the value of the businesses.

I can see from the ‘Design and Access Statement’ on the web that the developers have been discussing the development with Mr Bob Leuty of Wandsworth’s Planning Department, and they seem to have been reassured that their plans meet the Council’s criteria. I do hope the Council will think hard about allowing the road to be degraded by overcrowding.

Click on the image to see it bigger

You can compare the “change” with the previous application 2009/2518:

Tyre Services  - elevationClick on the image to see it bigger

Note:

  • The people at the garage thought the owners were sorting out a new lease!

You may contact the planning application service to let them know your view:

Planning Application/Mark Hunter [Ref: 2009/4484]
email: planningapplications@wandsworth.gov.uk
or write to:
Planning Service – Technical Services Department, Town Hall,
Wandsworth High Street,
London SW18 2PU

Related articles:

  1. Planning: HiQ Tyreservices – Chatham Road (August 24th 2009)
  2. HiQ Tyreservices – Chatham Road: planning withdrawn

January 11, 2010 at 8:21 am 1 comment

PAYG Oyster on all trains from Clapham Junction

Author: Cyril Richert

Commuters can use their Pay-As-You-Go Oyster cards on all trains in Wandsworth from January 2nd. This move was expected for years (since the use of Oyster cards for the Tube) and was meant to be included in the franchise with South West Train (managing Clapham Junction Station) in 2007. The probable lack of enforcement resulted into a 3 year delay when SWT argued on the cost of the implementation (despite having its franchise renewed).

At the beginning of November, PAYG Oyster was eventually implemented on Southern Trains from Victoria Station to Balham with a complicated system which gave a discount if you used the train and then the tube (e.g. going from Clapham Junction to Green Park through Victoria). I explained here. I still don’t know if we have to thank Boris Johnson, Mayor of London or Sadiq Khan, Minister for Transport for the move.

Now from January 2nd, all trains from Clapham Junction accept PAYG Oyster (after Transport for London invested £40 million in Oyster card infrastructure across the rail network in preparation for the London-wide roll out). Oyster pay-as-you-go can be used for all National Rail routes in Greater London between zones 1 to 9. Apparently things have been made simpler, train fares are similar to Tube now:

  • £2.30 Monday to Friday from 0630 to 0930 and from 1600 to 1900.
  • £1.80 at all other times including public holidays.

There is a capping with Oyster cards, assuring that you will never pay more than a limited amount, whatever the number of journeys you make:

Adult Zones 1-2
Capping Peak: £7.20
Capping Off-Peak: £5.60 [off-peak cap will apply if you travel between Monday-Friday after 9:30am or at weekends and public holidays]

The capping off-peak (£5.60) is equivalent to the 1 day travelcard.

January 10, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Happy new year 2010

Authors: Cyril Richert, Kate Williams, Julia Matcham

Dear reader,

On behalf of the Clapham Junction Action Group, we wish you a very happy new year 2010.

We have come a long way since our first battle over the proposed 42 storey towers at Clapham Junction. We have succeeded in stopping that development as well as a proposed 16 storey hotel nearby. As a result, the Council have become more focussed about what residents of our borough truly want, and hopefully their Core Strategy reference document will be amended to reflect this new thinking.

We didn’t set out to become involved in adventures further afield, but in retrospect, there was some inevitability about this happening. What is permitted in the way of ‘tall buildings’ or skyscrapers in any of the borough’s five centres becomes a precedent for developers throughout the borough. It is a virus that spreads.

We realised fairly quickly that ideally we should be pro-active about these matters and not wait to be accused of only being obstructive and against ‘regeneration’ (a word too frequently used by developers when they want to knock something down!). We should have some idea of what we want as well as what we don’t want.

We are planning to arrange a meeting of those who would be willing to join in a discussion of how we might develop as an organisation. That doesn’t mean promising your time on a regular basis …none of us are in a position to do that… but it would be good to know how people think, and if they have any areas of expertise which could be helpful.

Suggested date is

Tuesday January 19th (evening)

Let us know if you are interested (contact form here) and we’ll send you the venue and exact time a few days before.

We would like to make it clear that CJAG is not a political organisation. We try to represent the views of local residents only. It might occur that we disagree with the Council, but expressing different views, even strongly, does not mean systematic opposition.

January 1, 2010 at 10:43 am 5 comments

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