Archive for May, 2009
Author: Cyril Richert
A new hotel has been proposed at the bottom of Mossbury Road, 155 Falcon Road (in front of PCS). We have already published an article detailing the planning application and the reason given by the developers/architect. We have also published pictures of the proposed scheme.
In the view of the proposal, we have to study two main aspects:
- Is the scheme an opportunity for the vicinity; and is it going to enhance Clapham Junction? (Is a 16 storey tower block the ideal development of the town centre? Is it the type of architecture that residents wish for their town centre?)
- And is it going to create benefits and lead for future other redevelopments of Clapham Junction?
A development that will fit within the vicinity?
In the recent months, the Clapham Junction Action Group has succeeded in raising the level of awareness the local inhabitants on the development of Clapham Junction town centre. During the campaign against the station redevelopment including two massive tower blocks of 42 stories, hundreds of people have shown that they are opposed not only to Metro’s proposals, but to any proposal which substantially changes the character of the area from that of predominantly low-rise. A large part of these objections can also apply to the hotel scheme:
- The proposed site is very compact and lies at the bottom of an area of homogeneous Victorian and Edwardian low rise houses.
- Any development proposed to take its place should respect the historical and architectural homogeneity of its neighbouring buildings and not repeat the mistakes of the past: The Arding and Hobbs building is the focus for the Lavender Hill and Falcon Road junction and a landmark for the area. To have a building which towers well-over this building would be detrimental to the character of Clapham Junction.
- All of the exiting tall buildings lie to the North of the train tracks with none to the South. The 16 storey tower block will immediately become by far the tallest building this side of the rail track.
- The existing towers, mainly estates from the 60-70′s, are in any event loved by no-one and, to quote a very many e-mails and letters to the Council in the recent months, are examples of what should not be repeated in the area.
Last but not least, and probably the most important of all, you must consider the consequences of such a precedent. By allowing a 16 storey tower blocks, an unprecedented tall building in CJ town centre, you implicitly give full way for a new application to 2 or 3 tower blocks of 20-25 stories on Clapham Junction station. Some will actually remember that this was the initial plan for the station redevelopment (image on the left).
An opportunity for Clapham Junction?
David Rosemont was commenting on this website (8 May):
“The location of the proposed hotel offers connections with public transport unequalled in any other existing or proposed hotel in the area. In addition the hotel is designed to be at the more affordable end of the market. Informed opinion is that this is the right product on the right site.“
In other words, this will be a cheap hotel for people looking for an affordable way of commuting to central London, with the station just hundred yards away. The scheme is not focus on Battersea or Clapham Junction vicinity and will not provide any support for the regeneration of this part of Clapham Junction, despite the claim from the developers.
In addition, little consideration has been given to the noise and disturbance in parking caused by a 132 room hotel. Not only the hotel will operate 24 hours a day, which will be a huge change from the current daily office occupied by a solicitor, but there will be potential noise from the delivery vans, servicing, etc. With the current levels of traffic along Falcon Road, it will automatically increase traffic all along the road (Mossbury is a one way street) and create additional pressure on the limited parking.
An extensive consultation?
The developers have claimed that they organised an extensive consultation before they submitted their application. David Rosemont commented on this website:
“See my comments on the http://www.loveclapham.com website regarding the extensive consultation that has already taken place on the hotel project since November 2007, including a public presentation to the Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership and two exhibition days in April 2008. [...] This commenced with the public presentation of the first draft project at the Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership in November 2007. Such meetings are advertised by the Council and are attended by a full range of local residents, businesses, organisations etc.“
I live in Mossbury Road, and did not receive any specific information in the past year. However, as I might have just missed it, I personally asked several residents of the street. In all cases, it appears that the only thing was an exhibition on the ground floor of the building (Woburn House) last year, before the solicitors moved in, advertised by a poster on the window. In addition, I was told that a consultation was organised at the Town Hall, advertised by personal invitation sent to the existing Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership members. It is therefore very, very far from a full consultation. The only recent information I received was the New Hotel Proposal brochure (that I scanned and make available here), apparently distributed on behalf of the developers, and the official planning application letter sent to the Council (see here). It gives 2 weeks (and a bank holiday weekend) to submit comments and study the proposal. The application might come before the Committee as soon as 25 June 2009!
In addition, David Rosemont said:
“The commentators on this website consistently miss the point that the core strategy document was adopted by elected members of the council after extensive public consultation with members of the public, including local groups. [...] The policy that the Council adopted, after extensive public consultation, included the possibility of taller buildings, subject always to many other considerations too. Those consultations included public meetings which happen on a regular basis and are advertised.“
This statement seems to imply that constituents were widely consulted in the process of defining Council guidelines on planning applications. None of that actually happened, and in order to show examples of what is called “extensive public consultation”, there is only need to consider two recent events.
First, the Planning Forum, the object of which is to discuss the wide issues of planning process in the borough was organised last month… after 18 months absence. People attending received a personal invitation, and had to represent an organisation or group. I was told that the minutes will be published in … 6 months, therefore, as far as I’m concerned, I am the only one to have reported on it.
The second example is easily provided by the recent notice (through the Council website, not publicized in Borough News) that a public hearing will be organised for the review of the Council Core Strategy document. As we try – with difficulty – to follow it, you will find information on our website (and thanks for pointing out if you find any other source…). The meeting was meant to happened next week but has been already cancelled. Instead, an exploratory meeting will be held at the Town Hall on the 16th June: you can attend but not participate.
Once again the consultation for a planning application that may have consequences not only on the adjacent streets, but on the all future of the town centre seem to take place in mild confidentiality. Local residents deserve more than 15 days do discuss such planning.
The Council should not approve a scheme that has not definite support for the redevelopment of Clapham Junction town centre, and must acknowledge the concerns that have been expressed so widely in the recent weeks and months on the need of development that respect the Victorian town centre of Clapham Junction, with a coherence of mainly low rise buildings. Once again and for all the previous reasons, this plan must be refused by the Council in its current presentation.
Let the Council know your view
If you would like to join us complaining to the Council about the project, please use one of the following
Council: Planning Application/Paul Landsberg [Ref: 2009/1291]
Tel: (020) 8871 8413
or write to:
Planning Service – Technical Service Department
Wandsworth High Street
London SW18 2PU
Please also contact/email and let them know your concerns:
- Mayor of London, Boris Johnson: email@example.com
- Battersea MP, Martin Linton: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wandsworth Planning Committee members, writing to Martin Newton, Committee Secretary: MNewton@wandsworth.gov.uk and/or the chairman of the committee, Councillor Leslie McDonnell.
All contact details available HERE.
Author: Cyril Richert
As explained in our previous article, a new hotel has been proposed at the bottom of Mossbury Road, 155 Falcon Road (in front of PCS).
We publish below a mix of photos and sketches, taken from the application documents on the Council website, reference 2009/1291 (click on the images to see bigger). On several images, we compare the current views with the changes made by the hotel proposal.
Author: Cyril Richert
The application has been submitted to the Council with the reference 2009/1291.
The application description is such as:
Demolition of existing buildings, and construction of a 16-storey building (plus plant and basement) providing a 132-bedroom hotel, with ancillary restaurant/bar and conference facilities; and a separate shop or restaurant unit fronting Falcon Road at ground floor level.
The website set-up by the developers gives a few additional information (I highlight the key points):
- The new building responds to adopted planning policies accepting the principle of taller buildings in town centres, especially where economic and regeneration arguments add further weight.
- The design is a contemporary response to the requirements of the brief and to the need to consider the constraints of the Conservation Area in which the site is located. The building envelope uses a range of materials, volumes, rhythms, colours and tones referenced to existing nearby buildings, including the Debenham’s department store (formerly Arding and Hobbs), the Falcon public house and The Grand Theatre.
- The architects have undertaken a comprehensive review of the constraints of the brief and the site, and paid particular attention to the setting of the building within the Conservation Area and its relationship with existing buildings including nearby but unadjacent listed buildings.
- The hotel entrance and servicing will be off Mossbury Road and the ground floor contains reception, restaurant and kitchen areas, with plant and service facilities below.
- The development is restricted to three levels at its abutment with the terrace of houses on the rising frontage of Mossbury Road, reflecting the rhythm of the street.
The application has been filed by Oak Trading Company Ltd, a part of The Redwood Property Group.
David Rosemont, architect consultant to Husband and Carpenter Architects Ltd, and former Chair of the Wandsworth Challenge Partnership, said
“The design has evolved after a long period of design refinement following scrupulous consultation with the fullest range of local and other bodies, including potential operators.
The project has been carefully considered to provide the correct balance between quality, sustainability and viability. It is acknowledged that this part of the Clapham Junction Town Centre is in need of improvement and investment and a hotel of this high quality can deliver significant benefits to the Conservation Area and local community including businesses. The project offers the opportunity of a lifetime for the right project in the right location”
In order to have an idea of one of the consequences on the area, here is a montage based on images from the developers:
Update: As I was criticised below with the choice of colour to picture the building mark, I display some other possibilities (feel free to email me if you think that blue or pink gives a better representation of the building)
Update 2: First image criticised by the developer (in size… and colour, so it was amended above):
Author: Cyril Richert
Nothing to do with Clapham Junction and towers (so far) but I would like to take to opportunity of the audience of this website to join LoveClapham and remind you about the European election in a few days.
There are 72 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) representing the UK to elect. The UK is divided into 12 regions for the vote, with anywhere between three and 10 MEPs representing each region.
The MEPs will be elected for a period of five years. You will only need to put one X on your ballot paper when you vote, selecting which political party or independent candidate you favour out of those on offer. The winners will be selected by a system of proportional representation.
Lists for London can be found here.
You will find information about the role of a MEP here.
All the 736 MEP will be elected between June the 4th and the 7th in the 27 countries of the European Union.
If you want to see how your MEPs vote and represent you in the European Parliament, it is here: http://www.votewatch.eu (an independent monitoring website of EU politics). It provides detailed information about parliamentarians’ voting records and formal political activities – from committee work to parliamentary reports – and includes easy-to-access information on the political coalitions that are formed around policy issues.
All citizens of the EU who have registered in the EU country they live in can vote.
And in case you wonder what Europe has ever done for us and why you need to vote, just look here.
Author: Cyril Richert
2 articles regarding the withdrawal of the Clapham Junction station redevelopment application (click on the article to see it bigger).
Author: Cyril Richert
NORTHCOTE WARD E-bulletin May 2009
Special edition – Clapham Junction planning application WITHDRAWN by the Developers.
Welcome to our latest bulletin with a report on the withdrawal of the Clapham Junction planning application together with information about half term activities; the Wandsworth Heritage Festival; the Northcote Road carnival & the Lavender Hill festival and the move of Battersea’s Citizens Advice Bureau to Northcote Ward. Please forward the bulletin to friends and neighbours.
Philip Beddows, Peter Dawson and Martin Johnson
Councillors, Northcote Ward, Battersea,
Wandsworth Borough Council.
Among all the topics, the main one was commenting the Clapham Junction redevelopment proposal (I included links to articles on this website).
Clapham Junction Planning Application – WITHDRAWN
We learnt late on Monday afternoon (May 18th) that the developer, Metro Shopping Fund, had withdrawn its Clapham Junction planning application.
This welcome news was announced some 48 hours before Wandsworth’s Planning Committee met on Wednesday evening (May 20th) to consider the application. The report by the Borough Planning Officer was recommending that the application be refused because
a. there was insufficient benefit to public transport infrastructure in the town centre
b. affordable housing was omitted from the scheme.
A spokesman for the developer is reported as saying “We are deeply disappointed therefore that the report to the committee was not able to give the proposal its backing”.
As ward councillors we have taken an active role in connection with this application by urging local residents and businesses to make their views known to the Planning Department as well as speaking about the application at the Ward report back meeting last November and at the public meeting in January this year.
Martin Johnson, who is a member of the Planning Committee, was intending to propose additional reasons at Wednesday’s meeting for refusing the application including the scale, design and massing of the proposals and the sheer inadequacy of the proposed improvements to the station access.
At the Wandsworth Council meeting on May 13th Philip Beddows presented the online petition, organised by the Clapham Junction Action Group, opposing the proposals.
Peter Dawson made a written submission to the Planning Department on May 5th opposing the proposals much of which was quoted in the Planning Officer’s report to committee. The main points in his letter relate to the scale, height, design and density of the proposed 42 storey tower blocks being inappropriate at this location and out of character; the lack of new prime office accommodation and the loss of current office space and jobs from the town centre; the inadequate proposals relating to the bus / rail interchange and the partial nature of the station proposals.
The full text of the letter is available at the Planning website.
Overall we had come to the conclusion that though improvements are desperately required at Clapham Junction station, not least because of passenger safety concerns, this application only partially addressed the problems at the station while the impact of the overall scale and type of development on the surrounding residential and local shopping areas was unacceptable.
Jane Ellison opposed this application
Battersea’s Conservative Parliamentary spokesperson, Jane Ellison, wrote to the Council’s Planning Department on May 5th setting out her objections to these proposals.
Full text of her letter is at www.janeellison.net
In our next e-bulletin we will include a commentary on the planning process and what might happen next.
Read our article on the withdrawal:
Author: Cyril Richert
The Planning Applications Committee meeting was hold on Wednesday 20 May at the Town Hall. As confirmed by Councillor Leslie McDonnell, chairman, the application for Clapham Junction station redevelopment was withdrawn by the applicants (Metro Shopping Fund) on Monday (follow the link to read our comment).
The small space reserved for public in room 122/123 (about 30 seats) was crowded with more than 40 people, some people seating on the floor or standing near the door. Additionally, two rows of seats were also disposed in front, directly in the main room. That was not enough, and people kept coming crossing others leaving. 
The meeting started at 7.30pm. After agreeing on the Minutes of the previous meeting, Cllr McDonnell said that on Monday at about 3.30pm the applicants withdrew their application for Clapham Junction station, and therefore this item would not be debated. However Cllr Belton made a short statement highlighting that more than 600 residents objected (actually more than 800 objections) and he wishes that such application does not set a precedent. Cllr McDonnell replied that there is no relation between Planning Officer and Councillors.
And then…. That’s it.
For the next 1 1/2 hour it went on with the other applications. The discussion was extensive on Trade Tower Plantation Wharf which was criticised for scale and proportion issues within the vicinity which led eventually to refusal (it is encouraging that several councillors made the points).
Finished at 9.15pm…. I cannot imagine what time it would have finished should you have had the full agenda.
 An email was sent to everyone on our mailing list, in addition to the topic posted on the website, stating that the item was withdrawn from the agenda. Apparently more than 60 people decided it was still worth showing their concern!
Author: Cyril Richert
Kate and I would like to thank you all for the support you gave to the campaign, writing to the Council, attending the public meeting, signing petitions, distributing leaflets… etc. None of that would have been achievable without you and this is a great example of local democracy we should all be proud of.
Author: Cyril Richert
It is now confirmed that the Clapham Junction planning application has been formally withdrawn by the developers (Metro Shopping Fund).
Cllr James Cousins thinks on his blog that “with the developer’s withdrawal the application will not be considered by the committee“. However I hope that there will be discussion about the matter as it has created an unprecedented level of objection for an application apparently encouraged by the Council a few years ago.
Councillor Leslie McDonnell, chairman of the Planning Applications Committee confirmed the news and added that the item has now been withdrawn from the agenda. In their statement the company (MSF) said:
“The Fund has worked hard with your Council and other consultees to put forward a comprehensive scheme which addressed fully the key objectives of your Council.
We are deeply disappointed therefore that the report to the Committee was not able to give the proposal its backing.
Without it the Fund will not be pursuing these applications, as it strives to work in concord with the local authorities in whose boroughs it invests.“
Paul Cahalan, from the Wandsworth Guardian quoted MSF saying:
“We have invested significant resources to date, however in the absence of the council’s support at the last moment we have been forced to withdraw our application.
We believe a project of this scale would have helped to stimulate the wider London economy while providing lasting benefits for all local stakeholders including job creation and improved infrastructure.
Metro will now review its position and consider what its future options might be.“
As I said to the journalist, it is good news the site has been rejected. However I don’t know yet whether we have to celebrate. There are still several questions to be answered, and incertainty:
- What is stopping developers coming back in six months with another development? They could resubmit later, just tackling the issues on which the officers recommended against…
- Have Metro decided they stand more of a chance when there is not so much political pressure on conservative councillors to be seen to be doing the popular thing? After next year’s general and council elections perhaps?
- Is it a trick to avoid a debate on tall building which would have certainly aroused on Wednesday on tall building policy, and avoid the chance of setting a precedent?
All in all, in either the Planning Officer’s report and in MSF’s letter, we learn the same thing. Whilst we appreciate that the Planning Committee is expected to be a neutral arbiter, it is quite clear that the planning department itself has been most encouraging of this type of proposal. This is admitted at page 46 of Mark Hunter’s report where he makes clear that metro initially proposed only to develop the Stop Shop but that the Council asked them to go back and consider a ‘holistic approach’ to include station refurbishment. It is also clear that several different designs for the flats (monolithic block, three towers and then two towers) were consulted on and agreed with planning officers.
On the other hand, while it appears that everyone wants improvements to Clapham Junction station, 1,000-plus local residents have made the effort to tell the Council their objections (by letter or signed petitions) against the scheme including the 42-storey towers.
It would be a shame to let the debate die on this issue when so much interest has been generated. It is now the task of the Council to answer their concern and make sure that we do not face a similar case (with a modicum of affordable housing provided) in 2 months, 6 months, 1 year or more. It is clear that the planning department have been encouraged by Council policy to seek out such schemes. Is there any way that the Council meeting on Wednesday can be used to move a motion that the Council reconsider its strategy on tall buildings for the site/the borough?
Last but not least, the Council should join Martin Linton in his call upon Network Rail to do something about the overcrowding of the station and platforms and pursue a land acquisition policy to perform the platform straightening works? According to the article, the MP for Battersea said:
“I will be writing to the Office of the Rail Regulator to ask him to take another look at the capital programme for improvements to Clapham Junction station now that we know that the Delancey development is not going ahead.“
Be certain, we will be looking forward to the response!
Authors: Kate Williams, Cyril Richert
Dear Sirs and Ladies,
We have read with interest the Chief Planning Officer’s report to the Committee on Metro Shopping Fund’s application to develop the site of Clapham Junction Station. Naturally, we welcome its conclusion that the application should be refused on grounds that insufficient Section 106 commitments have been made, first through the lack of any affordable housing, and second through inadequate commitments to develop the station. We have argued in our own Planning Submission to the Committee that, since the proposal involves the demolition of the existing station entrances, it can be no part of Metro’s Section 106 commitments that a new ones should be provided. We are pleased that this argument has found resonance with the Chief Planning Officer.
We would urge you to accede to Mr Hunter’s recommendation that the application should be refused on these grounds.
However, in view of the unprecedented levels of objection raised which are recognised within the report, we consider that it is fundamental to the interests of the community at large that the Committee also rejects this application on the wider grounds that the scale of the proposed development is inappropriate to its location and that the proposed ‘tall buildings’ in particular are unacceptable in terms of their height and design. As Mr Hunter has acknowledged, this is the key issue for the vast majority of protesters.
The report is most carefully worded in this respect, presenting a case for a design rationale having been followed in the proposal of the ‘tall buildings’. Whilst this might explain the reason why the scheme has been pursued to this late stage of design, it does not answer the many concerns people have that it will overwhelm the local community and detract from its current amenity. Contrary to the suggestion that the objectors do not give any specific reason why they do not like the tall buildings and do not consider them suitable for this location, very many people have in fact been most specific in this regard. We summarise many of these points of objection in our Submission to the Planning Committee and do not propose to repeat them here. Suffice to say, the majority of the population are not architects and can give no comment on detailed aspect of the design. They are non-the-less horrified that proposals of this inhuman scale and garish appearance could possibly be given the go ahead no matter what benefits might be realised in terms of the station’s re-development.
At page 74 of the Chief Planning Officer’s report he states:
“Should members consider that, notwithstanding the general policy support for taller buildings here, this scheme, on its merits is inappropriate, such comments could be incorporated into the decision.”
We urge you to act upon this suggestion and to incorporate into your decision the resolution that the scale of the proposed development is inappropriate to its location and that the proposed ‘tall buildings’ in particular are unacceptable in terms of their height and design. Any decision which is not made on these grounds will fail to represent the true outcome of the Council’s consultation and leave the developers with the impression that adding some affordable housing to the design will overcome the Council’s objections. Notwithstanding the role that the Council might have played in encouraging a proposal of this nature on the site, the time has come to recognise that this was a mistake and that any redevelopment of the site should be on a far more sympathetic scale taking account of the location’s natural and unique purpose as a transport interchange and its opportunities for attracting business.
The fact that the current economic climate means that the current application is unlikely to proceed in the near future, gives the Committee an opportunity to rethink its strategy and invite a wider set of proposals from both Network Rail and other developers to develop the site in a manner of which we can all be proud.
Although these are the main reasons for our objection, there are other aspects of the proposal which we believe also merit mention in the Committee’s decision. These include:
Parking: this is probably the second most cited reason for objection amongst protestors. Metro’s proposals are contradictory and rely upon flawed assumptions. Full details are provided in our Submission and are in no way answered by the Chief Planning Officer’s report.
Retail Impact: contrary to the developers’ assertion that the town centre is declining, the opposite is manifestly the case. In spite of the current recession, new outlets are opening and pressure on businesses in Northcote Road may well be eased as rents reduce in line with economic factors. No consideration appears to have been given to commissioning an independent retail analysis in light of the changed economic circumstances.
Lack of Office Space: An assumption appears to have been formed that Clapham Junction is an undesirable location for offices to locate. We consider this to be a flawed assumption based on current office provision in the area. Again, full details of our reasoning appear in our Submission.
Wind Tunnelling: Of the 60 locations measured, only four are on station platforms (all on Platform 16). Two of these locations are considered to suffer from unacceptable wind tunnelling in winter, with one of them being unacceptable all year round. Contrary to the developers’ assertion that these are not locations in which people are expected to stand and wait, the opposite is obviously true. Short of proposing full cover for all platforms (to which Network Rail would undoubtedly object) it is difficult to see what amelioration could be proposed to deal with this.
Disruption and Planning Blight: the scale of the proposed development ensures a minimum of three years’ severe disruption to the community, and if the plans do not go ahead immediately this will only prolong the agony. Proposals such as the Council’s exemplar scheme and the opening of a third station access at Brighton Yard would undoubtedly be delayed by these plans.
For all of the above reasons, we would urge you to reject Metro’s proposal on grounds far wider than those currently proposed by the Chief Planning Officer. The opportunity exists for the Planning Committee to send a clear message based on the views of many hundreds of local residents. Any failure to do so will result in years of continued wrangling over the type of scheme which might be considered acceptable and the ways in which the community’s interests might best be served.
Kate Williams and Cyril Richert
On behalf of the Clapham Junction Action Group