Archive for January, 2011
Author: Cyril Richert
On Wednesday, January 19th , was organised the semi-annual Planning Forum at Wandsworth Borough Town Hall. You will find below some comments and feedback. They do not intend to replace any minutes and are obviously my own views of the meeting.
Local Development Framework
The Proposed Submission versions of the DMPD (Development Management Policies Document) and SSAD (Site Specific Allocation Document), which provide detailed policies to support the delivery of the Core Strategy, were under public consultation until the 10th December 2010.
Martin Howell presented the purpose of the Local Development Framework documents with slides.
The current schedule is such as:
- April 2011: Submission version to the committee.
- May-Dec 2011: Examination by the independent inspector
- April 2012: Adoption
In last year’s consultation, they received 73 responses in total, made of 497 comments on the DMPD and 496 comments on the SSAD.
The planning officers made several changes, including the removal of upper limits for the size of the buildings (the Council saw that applicants were testing the policy constantly by submitting all applications at the minimum of the upper limit), mix-housing percentages, clarification on industrial areas, and the removal of the gipsy area proposals (subject to London plan).
Now all area specified in the SSAD documents have been defined with 3 colours where buildings are:
- appropriates (only in the Nine Elms/Vauxhall area with a cluster of tall buildings).
Size of buildings to be considered tall is generally more than 5 storeys (with 5/6 in the Putney area).
Following the last round of consultation this autumn, the Council received 84 representations on the SSAD (made of 295 comments) and 48 for DMPD (244). The reduction is partly explained by the removal of the gipsy locations which generated a lot of comments previously.
The policy team is currently preparing a consultation report addressing the different representation with the Council’s responses. Although it should be addressing each single comments, the whole document should be much more detailed than the previous report which was only summarizing a few comments.
The officers explained that no fundamental change will be made to the current documents (otherwise it would require another consultation). However the inspector will look at all the representations and will even request more details/explanation from the individuals if necessary before making recommendations.
The localism bill is at its early stages and it is expected to go through a very long and extended process and controversy in Parliament. In a nutshell it aims to give more power to local authorities.
Amongst the list of changes proposed, I noted that the Council would be no longer required to make changes regarding inspector’s recommendations (which is currently binding). As Philip from the Wandsworth Society commented that it will be removing some weight to the planning consultation, the officers commented that actually some changes will still be mandatory (or so I understood).
Another point was the introduction of a £50 per sqm levy on behalf of the Mayor of London on all infrastructure. The Council seems concerned that it would take money out of their current funding.
The planning application for the Battersea Power Station has been approved.
Application for Springsfield hospital (Balham) has been refused.
Following the numerous problems which affected the Council’s website, it looks like recent improvement (including the change of provider) made the number of complains to drop. There are still issues such as the search within the application database and the automatic email sent for major planning applications with broken links, and the Council encourages people to report all problems.
Next meeting: Tuesday 7th June 2011
 Previously planned quarterly for December, it was then postponed to January at the last minute to happen after the end of the planning consultation on DMPD and SSAD documents
Author: Cyril Richert
We received this email from Winnie Smith:
Thanks for the support against the closure of York Gardens Library.
I’m part of a team organising a read-in in the library on Saturday February 5th between 1-3.
Ideally, we would like to create a community event for everyone on the estates before our only community resource is taken away. This would also be linked nationally to read-ins happening all over the country (organised by ‘Campaign for the Book’).
So far the plan is to support the library’s regular rhymetime 12.30-1.00 making it the largest attendance they’ve had, and then have our event in the hall from 1.
We’re in the process of inviting lots of different people- if you can think of anyone who can help out that would be great. We’ve had confirmations so far from 3 teenage/ childrens authors, 1 adult and 2 musicians and we’re slowly grinding down various other personalities!
We would like to intersperse these talks with members of the public talking about what the library means to them. The only rule is that speakers can only talk about the library- for one day only there’ll be no mention of other cuts/ choices made by the council.
Any publicity you can help with would be amazing.
York Gardens Library (Battersea, Wandsworth) is going to be the location for a read-in on ‘Save our Libraries Day’ 5th February 1300-1500. This is in response to the planned closure by Wandsworth Council despite the fact that the library serves the most deprived area in the Borough. This will be a community event for everyone in the area- before the only community resource for the attached estates is taken away.
The afternoon will start with children joining in the library’s regular rhymetime [half an hour of action rhymes and dancing for the under fives] 12.30-13.00 before our event starts. In between the entertainers members of the public will talk about what the library means to them.
Contributors to the event are still being added to the bill but those confirmed so far include
- Sophia Bennett (author of the popular teen series Threads which won The Times/ Chicken House Children’s Fiction competition.)
- Rebecca Elliot (author and illustrator whose book ‘Just Because’ is currently nominated for the People’s Book Prize and the NASEN children’s book award)
- Emmy The Great (great singer-songwriter)
- Caroline Lawrence (bestselling children’s author who will be giving a sneak peek at her new series ‘Western Mysteries’ and giving away copies of her old Roman Mysteries)
- Nadifa Mohamed (author of Black Mamba Boy – winner of the Betty Trask award and shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Guardian First Book Award)
- Swiss (formerly of So Solid Crew)
- Actor and Director Sam West
The closure of York Gardens Library will have a devastating impact on the community that it serves. It is the only communal space in the local vicinity and is a vital resource for those living in the area. In order to close York Gardens Library, Wandsworth Borough Council needs to provide reasons for choosing this branch. We do not believe they have done so…..
York Gardens Library is the most expensive library per issue/ in relation to its visitors (source)
Wandsworth Libraries’ report into the closing of the libraries admits that actually Battersea Library is the most expensive (source – page 5) Also, this report doesn’t take into consideration that York Gardens Library costs so much because it needs to pay to heat halls which are then rented out, earning the council approximately £1000 per month.
Wandsworth libraries would not be so closely placed if the borough was founding them now. Users of York Gardens Library should just walk the extra distance to a neighbouring borough. (Councillor Sarah Mcdermott- Council meeting. December8th 2010)
York Gardens Library was only opened in 2001! It is the only communal resource and community space for the attached estates and serves a higher density of people in its catchment area than any other Wandsworth Library (source – page 5) There is another library nearer Battersea which is not facing closure.
The number of children who took part in the CIPFA survey (which asks them their opinions about the library) was too small to successfully show what the library means to the community. (CIPFA survey results- as broken down on http://saveyorkgardenslibrary.com)
208 children participated in York Gardens Library’s survey over 1 week in September- this was more than two other libraries in the borough and the same number as those answering the the larger Battersea Library . The results of the CIPFA survey showed that:
When children were asked to answer the sentence: ‘I come to the library to’:
- Highest in the borough for ‘Use the computers’
- Highest in the borough for ‘Meet friends’
- Highest in the borough for ‘Read’
- Highest in the borough (twice as much as any other library) for ‘Do my homework’.
Why do you borrow books?
- Highest in the borough for ‘I want to get better at reading’
- Highest in the borough for ‘Library staff say they are good’
Why do you go to the library?
- Highest in the borough for ‘There are computers to help me’
- Highest in the borough for ‘There is a homework club’
- Highest in the borough for ‘It is somewhere to sit and work’
A stunning 59% of children say using YGL has ‘helped me to do better at school’, this is a much higher figure than any other library in the list.
Also, by some distance it was the library that was top for serving children in the categories: ‘female‘ ‘black‘ ‘African‘ and ‘Caribbean‘. (CIPFA survey results- as broken down on http://saveyorkgardenslibrary.com)
Read more here:
Author: Cyril Richert
Wandsworth Council has exchanged contracts to buy the former Bolingbroke Hospital in Battersea so it can be used as a new state secondary school, councillors heard tonight.
The purchase was discussed during the meeting of the finance and corporate resources overview and scrutiny committee, on January 19, 2011.
The refurbishment and future running costs of Bolingbroke Academy will be met by central government. Wandsworth Council will retain the freehold for the building.
As a consequence, the proposed planning application submitted by St George’s NHS Trust to make residential accommodation is withdrawn (you might remember that we objected HERE).
Last October, we were pointing out that the Director of Finance said that “any Priority Purchase by the Council would need to be met from government grant which is currently unconfirmed“. But we also confirmed in our analysis of the Government’s spending review that “the Free School measure being a key part of the government policy it [was] difficult to envisage that they could deny the support needed for one of the most advanced free school dossier in the country [and] further elements (including funding for Wandsworth) could be unveiled before the end of the year“.
We cannot write yet how much was paid for the purchase (the report for the Committee says: This report contains exempt information and is therefore not available to the public.)
Once the deal is complete the building will be leased to a local parents group (the current Neighbourhood School Campaign) which will turn it into a ‘free school’. You can read our analysis of the report that was presented in September before the Education and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
The NSC has been campaigning for a non-selective, non-denominational school since 2009. In May 2010, the NSC chose ARK , to set up and operate the new school. The paper showed before the Committee explained with details (5 page report but with 17 page appendix including the proposal form) the aim and objective of the school.
Author: Patricia Poulter
Whilst we were told by WBC that the SSAD would be a plan that would take years to become a building reality, 4 of the 6 sites identified in the Putney Town Centre South are in full application/implementation stages. These sites are all terribly close to one another and some applications are being lodged at the same time.
The application for the erection of part 4, part 8 and part 11 storey hotel containing 140 rooms, and associated restaurant and bar,has been withdrawn by the applicant.
It is believed that the owner is planning to implement a previously approved scheme for the “Erection of a fourth floor infill extension and construction of a new fifth floor and use of the ground and first floors as offices, and the change of use of the upper floors to provide 14 flats with 14 off-street parking spaces at the rear” (LBW ref:2007/6359).
Putney Place ( site opposite East Putney tube station) 84-88 Upper Richmond Road:
For info, this site is part of the SSAD and on the original version the maximum height was showing as 12 storeys.
3 buildings ranging in height from 15-storeys (up to 53m), 6-12 storeys (up to 45m) and 8-10 storeys (up to 38m) mixed-use scheme comprising: 197 residential units; 2734sq.m offices (class B1a); 1216 sq.m flexible retail/financial and professional services/restaurant/café/offices/non-residential institutions/assembly and leisure (A1/A2/A3/B1a/D1/D2); 134 basement car parking spaces; 3 car club spaces at ground floor; 236 cycle parking spaces ( LBW ref 2010/5483).This application involves 1450 pages of documentation !!!!!
This proposal seeks to replace the existing 2 buildings (one 6 storeys high and and one 7 to 9 storeys, 7600sqm offices).
This is the site where a previous application by Oracle for one 26 storey and one 21storey buildings for mixed use was refused by WBC.
The current developers of the site have consulted with residents, amenities groups and held a number of public exhibitions. They made a number of alterations to the scheme as a result but not on the height of the building.
Capsticks site ( site immediately to the west of East Putney station).77-83 Upper Richmond Road:
As the address suggests, it is only yards from the above proposal.
This site in the first SSAD was showing maximum height of 15 storeys.
It is one of the sites where the town centre boundary was extended by WBC to incorporate previously residential space in a residential road.
The proposal is for 3 blocks 12-13 storeys high (up to 41m), 4-9 storeys (up to 29m) and 1-2 storeys (up to 5.5m) to provide 104 residential units, office accommodation, retail, cafe/restaurant uses, together with a new public piazza, vehicular access, and basement car and cycle parking. This would replace one 8 storey building and one 4 storey building and a large car park that comprises 1/3 of the site.
The site is being developed by St James and there has been a good level of consultation with the neighbours and amenities groups.
Some alterations have been made to the proposal including the reduction of height from 15 to 13 storeys.( LBW ref 2011/0054).
Tileman House: 131 Upper Richmond Road ( near Putney High Street and Putney Rail Station).
This application is due to be put to the Planning Applications Committee in February we believe.
This site was identified also in the first SSAD for a maximum 12 storeys. A 7 storey building mixed use stands on the site.
A 15 storey proposal was declined by WBC and again on appeal. The applicant returned with the same scheme with reduced heights down to 12 storeys at its tallest .No consultation with residents or amenities groups by the developer.
Read about the previous plan here: Tileman scheme rejected: too high
Author: Cyril Richert
The entrance and upgraded facilities are due to be completed in Summer 2011.
Passengers can continue to enter the station from the existing Old York Road entrance for the duration of the work. However, the automatic ticket machines will be relocated temporarily back into the subway and other manned ticket office facilities will be re-instated on platforms 2 and 3 until the new entrance is complete.
You can read our previous report on the scheme HERE.
Author: Robert Molteno (Secretary, Wandsworth Living Streets)
Dear Friends in Wandsworth Living Streets
We had a most interesting open meeting last Wednesday, 19 January. Attached are 2 documents for you.
- Notes of the Meeting (in particular, an Update since the previous meeting; and Business matters);
- and secondly, a summary of Jeremy Leach’s presentation to us on Slower Speeds and More Liveable Town Centres in London.
The big next steps are to get our Website up and running, and even more importantly, to get those of you interested in particular issues to meet together in order to plan the next steps in these campaigns.
Please note in your diaries that our next Full Meeting will be on:
Tuesday, 19 April, at the Alma Pub (the upstairs function room),
7.15 for a 7.30pm start.
Author: Cyril Richert
The Council’s executive committee unanimously approved last week the Education Commitee decision on Belleville admissions policy:
“to investigate other admission solutions that avoid a situation where families adjacent to the Vines have no access to the school, and that better addresses the concerns of local parents, governors and residents, and report them for consideration at a future meeting of the Education and Children’s Services OSC“
This means the existing criteria will stay until 2013 because of the consultation timetables. Some roads excluded from the proposed admission zones will still have a better chance next year for Belleville’s catchement area. Roads near the Forthbridge Road site won’t get any place in 2012/13, but their chance was close to zero in the proposal anyway.
See also the comment on Cllr Cousins’ blog.
Author: Ian Hamilton
Instead the Committee has asked Wandsworth Children’s Services Department to go back and “investigate other admission solutions that avoid a situation where families adjacent to <the Forthbridge Rd school site> have no access to the school”.
This second site is to be used for expansion by the popular Belleville School (based at Webbs Rd) from 2011. Residents near Forthbridge Rd have been campaigning for almost a year for a right of access for local children to this site.
Last Wednesday evening the Committee was presented with the results of the second consultation within a year on the matter. This included a recommendation from Children’s Services for two ranked priority admission areas for the Belleville School.
Ian Hamilton was invited to address the committee on behalf of local residents and parents near the Forthbridge Rd.
Mr Hamilton reminded the committee how this latest consultation was held in response to nearly 500 objections made in a previous consultation in June 2010. Most of those objections were to admissions still being based on the distance from the Belleville main school site, 1km away from Forthbridge Rd, Even though this second site will be used to house a class of pupils per year group, the popularity of Belleville would mean children local to the Forthbridge Rd site had little chance of gaining places at it.
Mr Hamilton said that many felt the proposal for a second priority area did not adequately address these concerns even though it was approved in the recent consultation by a narrow majority (51%).
He also pointed out that the recommendations actually placed before the Committee included a new area added onto the second priority area which was not included in the most recent proposals i.e. had not actually been consulted upon, and many felt this raised serious questions about due process.
He added that, as this new area is closer to the Belleville main site (from which admission distance would still be measured), much of the area designated around Forthbridge would in effect become a third priority area.
Kate Amis the Chair of Belleville Governors also spoke to register the objections of Belleville Governing Body to the plans. She raised issues about the effect of the proposals on sibling admissions and their possible impact on the filling vacancies higher up the school.
All three Shaftesbury ward Councillors – Cllr Guy Senior, Cllr James Cousins & Cllr Jonathan Cook – were present and then spoke passionately against the “unfair” and “complicated” plans. These plans, the latest in a series of council proposals, could have seen children living over a mile away gaining places at the Forthbridge Rd site ahead of children living next door to it.
Committee member Cllr Cook noted that 301 of the 304 responses received from Shaftesbury Ward residents were against the proposals and he tabled the crucial amendment (requesting that other admissions solutions be investigated). Committee member and Parent Governor representative Jon Cox described the campaign by residents near Forthbridge as “sympathetic” and “honourable”.
All five speakers and the outcome of the vote itself (6-4) were met with applause and cheers from a packed public gallery.
Campaigner Ian Hamilton said:
“Finally we have victory for common sense. Thanks to the support of our local councillors and residents we now have a chance to formulate a transparent arrangement that includes some element of local admission to the Forthbridge Rd site – the only solution most people would consider as fair”
“The rising demand for school places is creating some difficult situations, but it’s great to see so many residents who care about schools in their area. We really want to work openly with the council, all the local schools, residents and parents to resolve this issue in a positive way“.
Addendum: Cyril Richert
The conclusion of the report (download pdf HERE) such as:
“Due to the continuing rise in birth rate it is recommended that the planned primary school expansion from 1FE to 2FE at Alderbrook is progressed and that the Belleville Primary school’s admissions criteria are amended to establish a first priority area and a second priority area, the latter in two parts as described in this report.”
was rejected by 6 votes to 4:
The Education committee amended the recommendation in paragraph 3(a), to read as follows:
“ask the Children’s Services Department to investigate other admission solutions that avoid a situation where families adjacent to the Vines have no access to the school, and that better addresses the concerns of local parents, governors and residents, and report them for consideration at a future meeting of the Education and Children’s Services OSC“
Councillor Jonathan Cook tabled amendment
Seconded by Councillor Andy Gibbons
Councillor Peter Dawson (Chairman)
Councillor Mrs. Tessa Strickland (First Deputy Chairman)
Councillor Charles McNaught-Davis (Second Deputy Chairman)
Councillor Steffi Sutters
ABSENT: Councillor Jo-Anne Nadler
In other words, all the Conservatives councillors but 1 (elected in Shaftesbury ward) supported the report. It is thank to the two parent governors, Diocesan representative and the two Labour Councillors that the report was amended, with the support of the Shaftesbury Cllr member of the committee!
You can also read the report from James Cousins on his blog, with the title: Rebellion and school admissions. He said:
“Last night was the first time I’ve ever ‘rebelled’ by speaking (but not voting, as I’m not a committee member) against the proposed admissions policy for Belleville School. [...] I’ve always been clear in my view that the council is not perfect, like any person or organisation it can make mistakes; what is important is that it can spot and rectify those mistakes. Last night, I was proud that the council proved it isn’t an unstoppable juggernaut, it is a mature and responsive organisation – it might not get things right first time, but it’s prepared to listen to make sure it’s gets there in the end.“
Author: Cyril Richert
The Wandsworth Society submitted its comments on the Proposed Submission versions of the DMPD (Development Management Policies Document) and SSAD (Site Specific Allocation Document), which provide detailed policies to support the delivery of the Core Strategy. You can download the 6-pages HERE. The Clapham Junction Action Group has submitted a contribution that you can read HERE.
Their main concerns relate to specific applications of the tall buildings policy and to the justification given for some site-specific allocation proposals.
They highlighted that the majority of respondees to the initial consultation do not want to see tall buildings in the borough (and hoped therefore that the views of actual residents will be paramount in this latest round of consultation). They criticized the link made in the S2UDS (2.6) between the status of the town centres and tall buildings. Although this is now a Core Strategy policy statement, there is no sound or logical reason why tall buildings should be associated with commercial success or with regeneration.
As we did in our representation, they criticized the change of the Clapham Junction boundaries to include some of the Peabody estate, with a very similar statement to ours:
“1.3 [...] The extension of the Clapham Junction town centre boundary, to make tall buildings acceptable along the St John’s Hill boundary of the Peabody Estate, is equally untenable. Particularly since this was done to overcome the verdict of the Inspector at the Core Strategy Examination who refused to sanction tall buildings here.“
And they also recommend to specify clearly the height of a storey:
“1.5. Although the S2UDS (2.17) states that storey height is assumed to be 3m, this is not stated in the DMPD. As the DMPD will be the general reference point it should be made clear here too. If tall-building policy IS3 is to be effective, it is particularly important that the actual height of buildings is not disguised by spurious storey heights.“
The Council officers seem to agree, according to the response they made to our latest exchange:
“This is based on a middle ground between average residential floor to ceiling heights which are generally 2.5m and average commercial floor to ceiling heights which are generally 3-4m. We will be including reference to this in the context of policy DMS4 in the submission version.“
The Council should be working on analysing all contributions as the public consultation closed on December, 10th. Results should come by February/March but we should be able to get some update at the next Planning Forum on January 19th.
Author: Cyril Richert
As we wrote at the end of December, there is a new application for the hotel proposed on Falcon Road/Mossbury Road, mainly due to the fact that they decided not to preserve the existing internal frame. The only visual consequence will be a reduction of height of about 1 meter. [see new application on the Council's website 2010/5377]
I had – as usual – a very pleasant meeting with Tim Glass on Monday 10 January.
He explained that the exploratory work conducted on the site (25m digging) showed that it was actually much more complicated than expected to keep the existing frame of the building. Contractors told them that starting with a new frame would also be faster, as the whole construction could be achieved within 10-11 months instead of 15-18 months. Demolition should start in April 2011.
Our only concern was the additional 10% capacity, although we must admit that it should not cause additional servicing: no need of bigger vans, or additional refuse collection, and the increase in customers should be minimal. Of course during the construction time, there will be a crane and trucks, but with the parking space at the back of the existing building the potential issues should be contained at the bottom of Mossbury Road.
They are still negotiating with a hotel operator on the one hand and banks on the other hand for the funding, but they are confident on the result and they consider the site as a long-term investment.
Our support comment is available HERE.
- Progress on Falcon Road hotel: new application with size reduction
- Hotel approved in Clapham Junction
- A few comments on Woburn House proposal
- Meeting Report – Hotel Developer Tim Glass from Oak Trading Company Ltd