Archive for May, 2010
Author: Cyril Richert
Following yesterday’s article on Transport funding cut, I forgot to report on the more specific news regarding the scrapping of the millions promised to upgrade the worst stations in Britain.
The report in Railnews.co.uk on the 26th May says:
“A £50 million DfT grant intended to upgrade the ten worst stations in Britain following the Station Champions’ report last November has been scrapped as part of the Government’s budget cuts.
The Department for Transport has lost £683 million from its budget for this year, as its share of a £6.2 billion reduction in spending ordered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
At first, the DfT had only outlined the reductions following the Chancellor’s announcement. They include £309 million withdrawn from councils and a proposed cut of £108 million for Transport for London.
Another item on the brief DfT list had been £100 million cut from the grant to Network Rail, and it’s now been revealed that half that sum is the £50 million which had been allocated to station upgrades in November 2009.“
However all is not lost for Clapham Junction as, according to the article, Network Rail pointed out that funding is also coming from other sources (Manchester Victoria will still go ahead, for example, because only £5 million of the £30 million to be spent there was coming from the Better Stations fund in any case). Clapham Junction is said to be benefiting from other funding. We have not heard of any of them and I would be curious to know what are the other parts of the £10m funding that was promised.
Obviously it gives me mixed feelings:
- Although not welcomed, it is understandable that the new government is cutting first the last minute spending from its predecessor.
- When we met with Office of Rail Regulation last November, our discussions were not considering the last minute funding provided by the government, and we were focusing on the next budget period, especially CP5 (2014-19). Although it has to be discussed in line of the proposed funding for these period, the topic still remains.
- We were outraged by Network Rail saying, when we met with them in January, there won’t be much allocation for Clapham Junction station in CP5 as it already received a lot currently (pointing out the £50m grant for the 10 worst stations). Hopefully they won’t dare use this argument any more to explain their future allowance to CJ station.
- Obviously it does not prevent us to carry on with our consultation, giving an opportunity for local residents to have their say o nthe future of Clapham Junction station. I want to believe that we will receive the same support and encouragement from our new MP, Jane Ellison, as we did from Martin Linton.
Author: Cyril Richert
As the British newspapers were reported on the 6 billion spending cut to lower the national deficit (of, er, £900 billion total debt), the Daily Telegraph put a few lines on the estimated cuts for the department of Transport.
Network Rail will have to save £100m (for a 5 year budget of £28.5bn for the period 2009-14 ~£6bn/y). In parallel, TfL budget will be cut by £108m, which may affect also London’s councils as they receive money for schemes such as the Exemplar scheme in Clapham Junction for roads refurbishment (the scheme is estimated to cost £3m, including £800k coming from TfL money and allocated by the Council to the Junction).
However, in the meantime, it has been confirmed (according to the Queen’s Speech delivered to Parliament) that Labour’s plans for a high-speed rail network are among the commitments of the new government. The Conservatives have also previously supported high-speed rail plans which would see a line from London to Heathrow airport and to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds and, eventually, to Scotland.
What all of that means for investment in CJ station (labelled second worst in the country) remains unknown…!
Author: Cyril Richert
Following a comment received from David Hargreaves, Tim Glass, the developer for the hotel proposal in Falcon Road has answered the different issues raised. See below the “discussion”.
Email from David Hargreaves commenting on the planning application:
The new hotel plan is certainly a vast improvement and for the most part unobjectionable. My two main thoughts are these :
I agree with you that the building should only be seven storeys. Principles should be stuck to. More importantly, however, I think the frontage of the top one or even two storeys should be slightly slanted backwards (perhaps with dormer style windows) or slightly stepped back (perhaps with small balconies in front) or both. This will enable the building to harmonise better with its neighbours. Both the prominent tower on Debenhams and the prominent dome thingy on the Fitness First gym taper upwards, while the top floor of the CPSU building is severely recessed. This “diminishing” effect is a clear feature of the neighbourhood architecture and the hotel should attempt to conform with it. At the moment the hotel is planned as a uniform sharp-edged box. Minor alterations at the top would make an important difference to its overall look, very much for the better. The impact of this on the size of the rooms on the top floor/s would be trivial.
As you point out, it appears that no provision at all has been made for the presence of motor traffic. There is nowhere even to pull in, let alone park. Though the new plan is for a much smaller hotel, there will still need to be deliveries, and taxis will need to pick up and drop off. But where? None of these activities can take place on either Falcon Road or Falcon Lane without causing immediate traffic disruption. The only possibility therefore appears to be Mossbury Road. I think the two residents’ parking spaces immediately adjoining the hotel site there may have to be specifically allocated for short term hotel-related parking only. How will the residents of Mossbury Road feel about this, particularly when 6 new residential units are to be added as well? So far as additional parking is concerned, for example for the cars of hotel guests, it should be made an absolute condition of the granting of planning permission that the developers make a deal with Lidl or Asda and any successor owner/occupants of these sites to accommodate such vehicles.
Response received from Tim Glass, Director of Oak Trading Company Ltd:
As agreed, I am coming back to you on the recent comments that have been made on the design/height, parking and taxis
1. DESIGN/ HEIGHT
I am pleased that the comments about the proposed hotel building and its design from your contributors to date have been pretty positive, but we are bound to get some criticism, especially on design matters, that are subject to personal taste and opinion.
I can assure you that an enormous amount of care, effort and expense has gone into the design that is now presented. Our architects have been liaising with the Council Planning Department and the Conservation Officers (who incidently suggested the glass parapet which I think is a nice feature which will soften the roof line and add interest- although it doesn’t show up very well on the CGIs). Also, at the architects own suggestion, we engaged a separate firm of consultants (who have worked with major architectural practices all over the world) to scrutinize the emerging design and offer specialist advice on the reconstituted stone cladding system and other architectural features.
It really is nigh on impossible to keep everyone happy, but we have done our best to come up with a building to fit the bill. Actually, your contributor David Curran encapsulates what we have tried to achieve pretty succinctly when he says:-
“They’ve struck a decent balance between the need to blend in to the fairly varied but low rise Victorian streetscape, without falling into the trap of going for an appalling pastiche ‘traditional’ look (which really hasn’t weathered too well in the Shopstop, or the Asda, both only 20 or so years old but looking very cheap and tacky indeed…).”
With respect, I think that slants/mansard slopes/dormers and step backs are erring towards the latter territory and there is, frankly, very little at all that I would like to borrow or repeat from the neighbouring 80s architecture. Also, the dome on the Fitness first building and especially the cupola on top of the the old Arding and Hobbs building are, intentionally, very distinctive features which aren’t intended, surely, to relate to any other features and our roofline won’t match in with them, in some way or other- whether it is clean /square edged or slanted/set back etc.
Without wishing to get too “airy fairy”, the objective is to provide a building of quality (in terms of performance as well as appearance) that is it’s own, “honest” as opposed to pastiche/borrowed, design. It is intentionally modern with a clean/ fresh appearance. It doesn’t shout out at you or try to be a landmark, however, and the texture and shades of the reconstituted stone cladding are selected to harmonise with existing tones (in adjacent buildings such as Fitness First). If we were to start hacking it about we’ll soon end up with some sort of committee solution, or what is sometimes called, a “camel” ( I am sure you know the old joke “ a camel is a horse designed by a committee”).
Apart from the fact that I don’t think its appearance would be improved by it being 3 m or so less in height, you know my view on reducing the number of storeys. We honestly can’t and therefore won’t. Please also remember the point I made about actual physical height as opposed to number of floors and that each site should be taken on it’s merits.
As another of your contributors says we are not ”going for broke” (i.e. an extreme or intentionally overly bold scheme that we could cut down on). Instead, we have listened and reacted to all of the points that arose from our previous application, compromised as much as possible and come up with as good a scheme as we can.
In terms of parking policy the site’s location is the classified at the highest PTAL (Public Transport Accessibility Level) possible, in terms of access by public transport and the idea is to discourage rather than encourage car use.
The London Plan, which is referred to in the Councils Core Strategy states (inter alia) that for hotels;
• Small hotels, particularly those in central London, should have no on site parking provision.
• Hotels in town centres should generally not have on-site parking provision or coach parking beyond operational requirements. (None of the operators that we have spoken to will accept coach trade, by the way)
Actually, the transport assessment which has been carried out for the proposed hotel concludes that the level of car based trips that the site would generate over the 12 hour period 07:00 to 19:00 would be lower than under the site’s existing use. Even so, it is recognised that a small number of guests may choose to, or occasionally have no alternative but to drive to the hotel. As you know, 2 disabled parking bays are proposed in Mossbury Road, but apart from this, any such general car parking demand would have to be met by public parking facilities in the area.
A public off-street car park (Stop Shop) exists opposite the site on Station Approach. This pay and display car park has around 30 spaces and is open 24 hours a day with daytime charges of up to £20 for 10 hours parking. In addition, parking for a 24 hour period is available in the ASDA car park (where there are plenty of spaces) for a £10 charge. There is no need for guests to park in Mossbury Road and I agree that this should be actively discouraged. Perhaps the residents only parking period (for residents only spaces) could be extended -even to all night, and I don’t think that any one is likely to risk a ticket or being clamped/towed away for the sake of a £10 charge for parking 100yds or so away.
I see that the transport assessment concludes that combined car and taxi trips generated by the hotel will actually be less than for the current building, although there is likely to be more taxi use for a hotel. The assessment suggests that the hotel may generate 28 additional taxi passengers (coming or going) in a 24 hour period, but it is also recognised that taxi trips generated by hotel use, frequently involve multiple use (i.e. more than one passenger at a time). Consequently, it is likely that the actual number of taxis (which are concentrated in the 17.00-23.00 hrs period) will be substantially less than 28 over a 24 hr period. In addition, outgoing trips which one might reasonably assume are about 50%, are often likely to start from Lavender Hill or the taxi rank in St Johns Hill. As with cars, the idea is to encourage public transport and so I don’t honestly think that a taxi rank or designated dropping off point for the relatively modest number of taxis actually visiting the site is a good idea.
I hope this helps
Additional comment received from David Hargreaves afterwards:
I have actually had another look a Mossbury Road. There is already a section on the south side I hadn’t properly noticed, pretty much opposite the hotel site, which has a yellow line and is restricted to deliveries. This might be able to serve adequately for both hotel servicing and taxi pick-up and drop-off. But the need to find proper parking for hotel guests’ cars, such as on the Lidl car park, remains important and must be addressed before planning permission is given.
If the presence of a hotel plus the building of 6 new residential units brings real pressure on residents’ parking in Mossbury Road, here is a cheeky thought. At the top end of the road outside HSBC bank is a special motorcycle parking bay. There may be a good reason why it is there, but equally there may not. If more car parking space is desperately needed, perhaps Wandsworth could find a new location for the motorcycle bay, perhaps in the station car park for example. This is obviously just shifting the problem, but anyway. There also seems to be an unnecessary yellow line outside no 65 near the motorcycle bay.
Author: Cyril Richert
A story on the Neighbourhood School Campaign for a secondary school in the area of Clapham Junction (possible site being the former Bolingbroke hospital) was published in the Evening Standard on Tuesday 4th. They said:
Firms including Cognita, set up by former Ofsted boss Chris Woodhead, have held talks with the parent campaigners about operating the school.
Shadow children’s secretary Michael Gove welcomed the news, describing the companies as “excellent education providers”. [...]
Five education groups have been in contact with the Wandsworth campaign so far. Two are education charities that sponsor state-funded city academies in London, Ark and the Harris Federation. The three others are private and overseas school firms — Sweden’s International English Schools, WCL and Cognita. [...]
Sources said Cognita was treating the Wandsworth project “seriously” but is waiting for the outcome of Thursday’s election before taking the plans any further.
For the Labour, Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, did also promise help and support for a new school for Battersea, as reported by Martin Linton, former MP for the area. Ed Balls, wrote to Wandsworth Council in March 2010 (PDF), to let them know he would try to help the council allocate some of the £300 million pounds it has for improving education in Battersea, towards a new school.
Now with Michael Gove acting as the new Schools Secretary, taking his brief in opposition with him into government, there is a chance to see a definite move and the possibility for the Conservatives council to work with the government to select a firm to operate the school. Cognita, which was waiting for the election result to see which team was in charge, should now be in a position to go ahead with their proposal.
As per comment from Kate Williams below: Cognita are no longer in the running to run the proposed school at the Bolingbroke. The selected education provider is Ark, a not-for-profits organisation who already run eight successful academies, 6 in London. If the school goes ahead, then Ark will appoint the teaching staff and run the school as an academy with direct funding from the government.
Author: Cyril Richert
Philip Hammond is Transport Secretary in the new cabinet, the brief shadowed by Theresa Villiers before the general election (read our article when Theresa Villiers came to visit Clapham Junction station last month). We hope that he will address in the near future the need for Clapham Junction station and look forward to good discussions as we shared we his colleague Theresa Villiers and along with future work and support from the new Battersea MP, Jane Ellison.
We also welcome Eric Pickles as Communities and Local government secretary, who will be probably in charge of delivering the decision on the Ram Brewery Enquiry before June, 17th.
Author: Cyril Richert, reviewed by Tim Glass
A new development has been proposed for Woburn House, 155 Falcon Road. We reported last month on the planning application (read HERE).
The site is currently occupied by a five storey office building, of mid-20th century origin. Oak Trading Co Ltd has submitted two separate application for:
- 2010/1620: Residential redevelopment on the current car park. The building has been designed to harmonise with the existing terrace of houses in Mossbury Road and will comprise 3 x 1 bedroom and 3 x 2 bedroom flats over three floors.
- 2010/1455: 8-storey hotel (~70 rooms) to be build with entrance on Falcon road; a commercial shop/restaurant unit on the ground floor.
Kate Williams and I met on Thursday 27th with Tim Glass, Director of Oak Trading Company Ltd. As for our previous meeting (for their application of a 16-storey building last year) the meeting was really pleasant and we had a very good and interesting discussion on the development of the site.
Tim Glass confessed that the former application (16-storey building) was unlikely to approved, once the submission for two skyscrapers at Clapham Junction station was withdrawn. If it was to be known before they probably wouldn’t have pursued it.
As per the references above, there are two separate applications to replace the existing Woburn House + car park.
Woburn House: In the new proposal, their intention is to keep the existing structure of the building, which will be transformed in appearance, including a good quality reconstituted stone cladding system. It will be a much more sustainable building with hotel facilities but should also be cheaper to build than a totally new structure, as previously proposed. There will be 3 additional floors but the building still be less tall than the existing office building opposite it in Falcon Road.
They hope to get a similar rent per hotel room as in the previous scheme and the absence of kitchen facility should reduce extra costs as well as needs for servicing (now expected to be approx. 7 a week instead of 13 in the previous plan).
Tim Glass stressed that viability is very finely balanced, due to the substantially reduced scheme (not withstanding the above), but if the scheme proceeds it should attract operators such as Travelodge or Premier Inn, amongst others. However they haven’t closed a deal with a hotel operator yet and this will also be a key point for the project to go ahead.
On the ground floor of the hotel there is a plan for an independent retail or café/restaurant unit. In the absence of an “in house” café or restaurant for the hotel, it probably makes more sense to have a café/restaurant in the independent unit and, consequently, application has been made for both A1 (retail) and A3 (restaurant) uses.
The separate unit would be a lock up shop arrangement –serviced from the front in Falcon Road-which is a pretty common arrangement for a unit of this size (ie not very big- approx 65 sq m). There is no rear or other access to the unit.
Residential Units: 6 residential units will be build on the existing car park: three 1-bedroom flats and three 2-bedrooms flats.
It was design to integrate with the existing Victorian terrace houses of the street and, albeit having only one entrance and extension at the back, it will look like 2 similar houses.
They have consulted with their prime neighbour who is happy with the new layout after they agreed to step-down 1 floor at the back so it does not overlook his garden.
The developer is not planning any wider consultation other than the leaflets distributed in the neighbourhood.
They do not expect any section 106 contribution, which may easily destroy the financial viability of the overall project.
If permission is granted by the council, and assuming a hotel operator is found, the objective is to commence construction in approximately 6 months. Spring next year could be a possible start.
In addition to those applications, Tim Glass confirmed that they have also submitted an application to extend the life of an existing consent (first granted in 2000) for a redevelopment of the existing building and adding a new 6th floor, to provide a restaurant, office space and 3 floors of residential apartments. Tim Glass commented that it seemed sensible to renew this permission, as something of a “backstop”, but it doesn’t provide the appearance of a new building in the same way that the current proposed hotel scheme does and probably isn’t viable in current circumstances anyway
The Clapham Junction Action Group is to formally comment on the project in the forthcoming weeks.
You will see bellow photos and drawing of the applications (click on the thumbnail to see it bigger).
Author: Cyril Richert
Elections are over and you will find all results for Wandsworth on the Council webpage HERE.
For the 3 wards around Clapham Junction Station, details are:
- BELTON Tony [The Labour Party]
- SPECK Wendy [The Labour Party]
- HOGG Simon [The Labour Party]
- BROWNE Jenny [The Conservative Party]
- DAWSON Peter [The Conservative Party]
- JOHNSON Martin Dudley [The Conservative Party]
- COUSINS James Anthony [The Conservative Party]
- COOK Jonathan Peter [The Conservative Party]
- SENIOR Guy [The Conservative Party]
The new MP for Battersea is now Jane Ellison. As I said recently, Martin Linton (former Battersea MP) showed a great support in the last 18 months on issues such as the twin towers for Clapham Junction station and the 16-storey building proposal for Falcon road, on tall building policy but also on helping to organise meeting with the rail authorities and relaying our views to the Transport secretary.
I congratulate Jane Ellison for her victory and we are all looking forward to carry on the work and pressure we have been doing to see a real improvement for Clapham Junction station. She has already showed some support and organised a meeting with Theresa Villiers MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, who visited Clapham Junction Station 2 weeks ago. It was reassuring to hear that Theresa shared our concern as to Network Rail’s lack of accountability, and would plan to make them answerable to both commuters and parliament under a future Conservative administration. The next few days will probably show more outcome for the future government, but our hopes are high for Clapham Junction!
Regarding the Planning Committee, few should change from the former members HERE. However we might look with great interest whether Steffi Sutters (newly elected as a Conservatives councillor for West Putney) will join them as she shared our views for a Tall Building Policy last year, as a member of the Putney Society.
Last but not least, don’t forget to tell us what your think on Clapham Junction station redevelopment and send us your contribution.