In the press

Wandsworth Borough News is publishing each week letters that you sent giving your views and objections on the planning proposal to build two 42 storey towers overlooking the railway at Clapham Junction Station (I will talk about it in a few days).

I was contacted 10 days ago by South London Press and gave my views on the project (er, no surprise if you remember this).

Click on the picture to enlarge.

South London Press 21/11/08A shorter version of the article is also available online.

There are two points that I would particularly like to comment upon, that I highlighted on the paper’s display.

First it is interesting to note that:

The developer, Metro Shopping Fund – which is made up of Delancey and Land Securities – said it could not afford the affordable housing because of the cost of the station improvements, which include two new escalator entrances – on St John’s Hill and Grant Road.

This is actually a point that the Battersea Society made in commenting about the proposal months ago, saying:

The scheme includes a large amount of housing but, contrary to both Londonwide and Wandsworth planning policies, it is not proposed that any of it should be affordable housing. It is astonishing that the proposals are proceeding on that basis. The Mayor of London can be expected to take a close interest in the matter.”

Maybe the developers are showing here their concern for the community, by choosing to ignore the local planning policies.

The Mayor of London (and his office for planning decisions) commented on that point, and while considering that

in broad terms the application does not comply with London Plan policies. Further discussion is required with the applicant and the Council regarding the provision of transport improvements in lieu of affordable housing provision […]

However the Mayor is apparently happy to approve the plan if “reasonable” funding for the station improvement is provided. And you will probably find it interesting to know that Boris Johnson says:

The towers would be attractive city elements contributing to London’s skyline.”

Secondly, a Wandsworth council spokesman said

If developers want to build big towers then they have to provide some community benefit; contributing to significant sums of money enhancing Clapham Junction station would clearly be a community benefit.

In other words, the developers should be able to build whatever they want, as long as they give some money for the station improvement. As the Councillors of Northcote Ward wanted to clarify recently that the Council was not putting forward the proposal redevelopment, it looks at least that they are showing an interest.

In addition I would like to question the second comment from the Council’s spokesman, as saying “the decision would be made solely on planning guidelines“. Does that mean that peoples objections will be ignored?

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