Why we ask for amendments on the Peabody proposal
Author: Cyril Richert
We have commented in a previous article about the new proposal released for the redevelopment of the Peabody estate in Clapham Junction.
Peabody Trust released their first newsletter which introduces the proposal, advertises the public exhibition and the consultation website for the redevelopment of Peabody Estate, in Clapham Junction.
Beside the notable arguments in favour of the proposal (due to the new government criteria for estates, Peabody must repair/redevelop some of its estates, including Clapham Junction; a new plan will also aim to open the estate to the neighbourhood; the layout will show more diversity in term of sizes, shapes and colours for the blocks) we highlight a number of criticisms.
Points of objection:
The main criticism is obviously the size of some buildings.
1. Located at the top of the hill a 12 storey tower will appear to be about 16 storeys when viewed from Arding and Hobbs/Debenhams opposite pavement (because of the seventy foot tall hill that it sits on).
2. Near the Arding and Hobbs/Debenhams road junction a building of 16 storeys was refused in June 25th 2009. The officer’s report said that “due to its sheer size [the development] would fail to preserve the appearance of the area“. A building of 8 storeys and similar size as the directly opposite building – was later granted permission.
3. The area is inappropriate for buildings more than 5 storeys. Although the Council changed the description of the site lately, we demonstrated that the original description of the Peabody site as lying entirely outside the town centre should be retained: a scheme has to be granted for its own merit, not by using tricks to overturn the current policies.
4. Opposite the site, a 8-storey building, taller than the surrounding, was granted permission. The main merit of the scheme was to ensure the retention of the former Granada cinema but 4 years later the refurbishment of the auditorium is still await. The 8 storey development is now highly visible and obstructive from the Junction.
In an area with buildings of 3-4 storeys, the Council allowed nearly 50% more on the basis that it would bring the benefit of the refurbishment of the Granada auditorium. Now we are asked to approve another 50% increase – 12 and 10 storeys, because a 8 storeys exists already and it will benefit the much needed redevelopment of the estate. What next ? A 18 storeys because a 12 will be there, in order to compromise for example for the benefit of the much needed redevelopment of Clapham Junction station ? Do we want to carry on that trend ?
Five years ago, the area was only made of buildings of 3-4 storeys. Within a few years we are moving to 8 and now 12… while a thousand local resident expressed their disagreement against tall building in Clapham Junction just 2 years ago.
We have received personal comments from local residents, including members of Wandsworth Living Streets, the Wandsworth Society and the Battersea Society. They say:
Redevelopment is now required (the present buildings are seriously unattractive; there is an awful lot of wasted paved over space). They think the scheme is generally a distinct improvement on the first one, less cluttered looking. They do sympathise with Peabody knowing they have to make a financially viable proposal, even with a social housing project. They support the social housing objective. The Trust has to somehow make the figures add up, and they need income.
Some have concerns about the population density and the height of the buildings. Going from 5 story to 11-12 story buildings will affect the area (increased shadows and extra strain on the already over crowded foot paths and street). 12 storeys is still too tall (although much better than the previous 21). Walking down Battersea Rise from the common, the 8 storey Granada development looms above the existing streetscape in an unpleasant manner. Their proposals need some further modifications. The arguments about height with the old Granada building are very pertinent. We seem to have been left with a permanent eyesore. The 8 storeys on the Lumiere were supposedly an “exception” permitted by the Council against local opposition. There is no doubt a slippery slope could easily come into operation, permiting at some future date yet higher buildings close by. A 12-storey building could be used as the thin end of the wedge, and before we know where we are, the Council will suggest that a 16-storey building in the area would be fine, as it is not really so very different from 12.
They question the necessity of the shops as there is not much street frontage towards St John’s Hill. The estate marks a natural end of the town centre shops – so no need for any more on St John’s Hill. A bit more greenery needed, and of course permeable. There appears to be little planting to the square proposed to “green” the area. There are also some concern about trees, balance between surface and underground car parking, provision for cyclists — securing bikes, movement through the estate, provision for children’s play areas. There’s no mention of bike parking … absolutely crucial if we want to minimise car use, pollution and congestion in the area
There is a shared concern on the future of the entrance lodge, an attractive late C19 building on the western tip of the sit in Strath Terrace – which must be a relic of the previous use of the site as an orphanage. Should the plan be modified to allow it to be retained?
Peabody Trust has shown some understanding in its consultations. They have already changed their plan, reducing the density of the proposal by 20% and the size of some buildings consequently. We still believe that some amendments are needed in order for us to support the scheme and we will discuss the points with them during their public meetings. This should be the purpose of their consultation, before a definite submission for planning permission in early 2012.
We encourage everyone to let them know your opinion (feel free to copy us in any correspondence):
Post: Richard Stanway-Williams, Peabody,
45 Westminster Bridge Rd, London, SE1 7JB
The public exhibition dates are as follows:
- Tuesday 15 November 4pm – 8pm
- Saturday 19 November 10am – 2pm
And will be held in St Mark’s Church Hall, Boutflower Road (next to the estate).
In response to the comment from Dave Curran below, I publish some photos, showing impact on taller building according to the Google View he pointed out.
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