Archive for August, 2011
Author: Cyril Richert
On Thursday, July 28th, I attended a meeting of Wandsworth Living Streets with Cabinet member for Strategic Planning & Transportation, Cllr Russel King (the position was formerly held by Ravi Govindia and his promotion to the position of leader of the Council lead to the cabinet reshuffle).
The point of this note is not to report on the meeting, that you will find on the Wandsworth Living Streets website. However Cllr Russel King was first asked to give us an overview of the Council’s positions and priorities. Some of them being directly related to some concerns raised on the CJAG’s website, I will give a quick summary of the outcome below:
As readers of this website already know, we have a new proposal for the Ram Brewery site. This plan shows a density decrease (1 skyscrapers of 32 storeys instead of 2: 38, 32, different planning) but the developers have committed to keep the same level of affordable housing. Therefore they seek to reduce their section 106 contribution, mainly a funding for the one-way system redevelopment. TfL has previously priced the road-work at £38m and the new proposal now is considering to provide only a third of that amount. However the Council seems into an impasse currently as TfL does not regard doing away with the gyratory as a priority.
A recent study showed that London is expecting a significant growth in population (+15% within 5 years?). This will be concentrated along existing overground rail routes. Projections show that these will see more over-crowding during rush hour with many people being unable to get on to trains at various stations (the cost of extended platforms, longer trains etc prohibitive, and not likely to take place). Increasing usage of private cars to get to work not an option.
Two ways of tackling the problem:
- Dynamic pricing on the railways: ie big increases in fares for commuters using trains during the rush hours – in order to push rail travellers into using trains at other times, or to shift their mode of travel.
- Modal shift: in two directions:
- Buses (a combination of more buses; more routes; more bus lanes).
- Cycling: there is a plan announced by the Mayor of London to extend the Barclays Bike scheme to Wandsworthnext year (the associated cycle docking stations would be located on existing car parking spaces, not pavements).
Therefore the solution is to reverse the previous trend of concentrating the businesses in Central London. Borough have been asked to look for opportunities to extend business attractiveness in their location and refrain people commuting out.
There is also a financial incentive in this direction because of the impending localisation of business rates (whereby Councils will retain all the rates collected in their area). This will alter significantly a Council’s sources of funding, and prompt a shift away from largescale residential development projects which, for many years, have been the preponderant form of development in Wandsworth.
Clapham Junction Exemplar Scheme: See our article HERE.
- Phase 1: currently undertaken. Right turn from Lavender Hill to Falcon Lane + crossing + street furnitures. Implementation planned until the last week of April 2011 (although the goal is to finish the paving for
Christmas 2010Spring 2011). Cost = £1.2m
- Phase 2: 2012-2013. Changes on the main junction (St John’s Hill/Falcon road/Lavender Hill/St John’s Road). Planned for next financial year. Cost = £1.2m and funding by TfL already promised.
- Phase 3: no funding yet agreed; Council will have to put in bid to TfL. It will focus on St John’s Road.
- Phase 4: St John’s Hill.
- Phase 5: Mossbury Road. Originally planned from April 2012… now postponed. Funding not currently confirmed.
- Phase 6: Battersea Rise (to be confirmed).
Council’s new approach to how Cabinet Members and other Councillors will be working
The new leader, Ravi Govindia, has asked each Cabinet Member to delegate parts of their portfolio, and involve other Councillors on their Overview and Scrutiny Committees (OSCs).
- So Cllr John Locker, OSC Chair, will focus on parking;
- Cllr Torrington, OSC Deputy Chair, will focus on public transport & heliport, and on the Passenger Transport Liaison group.
Author: Cyril Richert
On Thursday, July 12th, was organised the 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 (and comments in red).
Local Development Framework
Since the last meeting, the Council officers have spent the beginning of the year working on analysing and commenting the responses to the consultation (both comments on the DMPD and on the SSAD). We have already published an article commenting the direct responses to the concerns raised by CJAG .
The documents were submitted to the Secretary of States on May 27th and are now under examination by an independent inspector until the end of the year. It is expected that the examination will take place at the end of September 2011.
The Council is planning to adopt the final policy by Spring 2012.
The amount of enforcement (complaints regarding planning procedure – or lack of planning) has significantly grown in the last years. Some of the most common cases include:
- Building Work
- Change of use
- Untidy land
- Work to listed buildings
The government owns advice is to negotiate. If it fails, the local authorities can consider taking enforcement action; however it considers also if it will achieve the purpose. In their address they will consider whether the matter is contrary to the planning policies adopted by the Council and the impact on the neighbourhood.
The officer reported however that enforcement were very costly and time consuming for (too) often a small consequence (a fine of £500) and therefore is never the preferred option. There are currently 4 enforcement officers in Wandsworth Borough Council.
Planning Web Pages
In view of the recurrent difficulties on the Council website last year, a lot of resources have been dedicated to the issue:
- upgrade of the whole website
- move to a new system
- new search fields
- new services: planning explorer, mapping (excellent service!)
During the meeting it was noted that comments were only available when you view the documents. Although it is voluntary, the officers will see how it is possible to display a warning message.
Several improvement were also listed for future upgrades:
- It is currently difficult to make the difference between ongoing developments and alread done.
- Need to scroll down completely to get the View related documents.
- If the application is new, its boundary is not on the map and will appears only once the boundary is captured (and the consultation starts).
Central Government Legislation
The main concept of the Localism Bill is the neighbourhood planning (people can get together and write plans).
As I requested on behalf of the Clapham Junction Action Group, we should have a presentation of the Localism Bill (currently on progress with Parliament) at the next meeting.
The National Planning Policy Framework is summarizing 3 meters of documents into a simple 50 page national planning development guideline.
Next meeting: mid-October 2011
 I’m still wondering whether it is semi-annual or quarterly… or random
 Since our contribution criticising the change of town centre boundaries (see our contribution here and comment there) in a clear attempt to allow taller building in the location of the Peabody Estate (despite previous comments of the inspector) we heard that this was also highlighted by the Wandsworth Society, the Putney Society and the Labour group in the Council. Only the Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership is supporting the recommendation as we discovered in their representation (that we did not received previously).