'Local News Update' as circulated to a group of Wandsworth residents.

We received an email form Julia Matcham, former member of an Action Group in the vicinity and who keep writing regular newsletters.

ALERT : Clapham Junction Redevelopment

I should have been quicker off the mark over this particularly as I only found out accidentally (by means of a small poster at the Station) that plans were now being considered. In my opinion the whole matter should be much better publicised and subject to public proper and extensive consultation. It is the biggest Junction in Europe and not someone’s back extension.  Reading other people’s objections on the planning site makes it very clear WHY there should be thorough discussion.

I am informed that the area/property* is owned by Network Rail plus Metro Shopping Fund who (I think) encompass Delancey and Land Securities.

I asked who is actually responsible for Clapham Junction Station and was told -Network Rail – who have said they have no plans for updating the station in any foreseeable future.

So the only way the Council can see an improvement to the station (for which they are NOT responsible) is by giving planning permission to these people who will say they need the towers to pay for the station.This is to my mind quite outrageous. Clapham Junction Station is a public resource and should be properly funded by the government. Any subsidiary developments around the station should be another story and considered on behalf of local residents and retailers, not on behalf of developers.

One has to ask why then are the Council encouraging this situation? Why should the Council should even consider facilitating an unecessary deal of this sort? Why not leave it as it is until the government/Network-Rail are shamed into doing something about Clapham Junction  because it is truly a national disgrace. It is not the Council’s responsibility. Is it that this huge development would bring in a lot of income?

Proposed  are 2 hideous 42 storey towers =  556 housing units.

And, if I remember rightly, approx 50 retail units. Do we need them? Isn’t St John’s Road enough?

This is a high price for local people to pay for a cleaned up station with an lift and an inconvenient new entrance up the hill.

Parking underneath the new buildings cannot possibly be enough for the housing units and increased trade.

Coincidentally a new ‘Polyclinic’ is proposed in the Grant Road area …and where is their trade going to park and wait for their afflicted relations?  Asda’s car park?  No, that will be full of parkers for the 50 retail shopping units and the overflow from the 556 flats!

Then there is the question of density of our local population; the height, ugliness and inappropriateness of what is proposed; the effect of 50 new retail outlets on St Johns Road . All because Network Rail/government will not take proper responsibility for it’s own station.

In any rational world, in the event of it being necessary, more than one way of designing such a large public area would be considered regardless of who actually owns the properties. That way we might get some decent architecture in the borough.  I asked about this and I am told by Mark Hunter (Planning Dept) who is in charge of the application that while anyone can put in a planning application, only those with a financial interest in such a large property would be likely to do so.

As I see it, this isn’t for us…the beneficiaries will be the developers plus quite a bit of income for the council. Network Rail shamelessly provide convenient leverage for predatory developers.  Maybe it isn’t yet a done deal…

Julia

*All the buildings except the pub on the corner.

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7 thoughts on “'Local News Update' as circulated to a group of Wandsworth residents.

  1. Listen, I have to say that whilst I can understand the strength of feeling on the whole issue (and it is nice that the people of Battersea care so much about their town as opposed to other parts of London), you’ve got a few inaccuracies in this post.

    I actually went to the public consultation way back at the start of the year. Don’t know about you but there wer leaflets and stuff beforehand to publicise it. And now, the council are carrying out their statutory public consultation which is going on until Feb (I think). Plus, have you seen the planning website – lots of people commenting so I do not think you could fault them on getting the public involved.

    Anyhow, that is by the by. What gets me is people’s worrying about car-parking. This is London – most people I know do not have cars, or if they do, certainly do not use them to commute down to the train station!

    Furthermore, a majority of the flats will be one-, two- or three- bedroom flats, generally professional couples or co-habiters. Unlikely to have kids or dependents and so again, unlikely to desire a car in London (with all the cost it entails). I mean, hopeful tenants will know beforehand that it is a mostle car-free development, so surely car-users will not wish to live there. Yes?

    And one last thing. As I understand it, Netwrok rail does not have the money to fund the station improvements. It is all very well saying chuck the cost on the taxpayer, but where is the money going to come from in these economic times if not from the developers who are willing to fund it?

    Kind regards and merry christmas.

  2. Dante> Regarding the public consultation, it was organised for only a few day period back nearly 1 year ago. Comments regarding the planning application needed to wait for the Council to start processing officially.

    Regarding the accommodation, first we question the population who is going to live in the towers (some talk about cells for train-spotters!). They are considering about 500 one and two bedroom flats… and ONLY 8 three bedrooms.

    Regarding the car parking, that is only an assumption that people living there won’t have cars. And if so, will they park in the street around, already completely congested? And what about the car park for the station? With the proposal, it will disappear. Shall we consider a train hub of the size of Clapham Junction with no car park?

    Regarding Network Rail, this is a point to ask. Why don’t they budget the necessary refurbishment? What about the 40 millions commitment of SW train when their franchise was renewed? What about the 10 million improvement budgeted by the government in 2009?
    And last but not least, as you rightly pointed out the current economic climate, what are the guarantee that the developers will do anything short term? Once permit construction granted, developers can seat on it for several years, and you can be sure that in the meantime nothing at all will be done anymore from Government, Network Rail and Council.

  3. Cyril> Thanks for getting back to me so quick.

    Re: Budgeting – I had a look at the SW trains & Network Rail monies. There are not proposing to fund a wholesale refurbishment of the station as planned by the CJ proposals. I mean, sure, there are funds/a programme to improve access to platforms for the less-able bodied. This is overdue and to be commended.
    But CJ is really going to benefit from the new bigger entrance, footbridge, shiny makeover, etc. I don’t think that has much of a chance of happening without private dosh (look at Victoria or Euston redev. ).

    I still stand by my opinion of the parking provision. It is in the London Plan, that ‘major transport hubs’ are good locations for residential development, precisely because residents are v unlikely to want or require a car. Your pessimistic vision is , at least, as much of an assumption as my optimism.

    It will be inconvenient for some, I agree, that the permanent car park is disappearing. However, in this brave new ‘green’ world, shouldn’t we be beginning to wean ourselves away from a city planned around cars?

    Yours with festive cheer

  4. Dante> Indeed SW trains and Network Rail are not proposing the same development. I have not seen anymore pledge of SW train money (except on the Council’s website) and re- network rail they are trying to save money by proposing the development. Therefore they won’t show any alternative plan.

    I am not as sure as you are that CJ is going to benefit from the current scheme.

    First, by moving the entrance to the over-bridge they are disconnecting more the station from the heart of St John’s road and Northcote area.

    Second, as they are suggesting to close the entrance on the under-pass, if we learn from history, this is exactly the opposite that they do at Redhill. After closing the under-pass and asking to use the footbridge, they have realized that it does not work so well and decided to move back to the original. Passagers could have certainly told so, but they did not listen at the time.

    Third, what sort of shops are going to be there? Have you notice all the empty spots at in the Wandsworth mall? It does not look good.

    Also, as the Battersea Society ask to look for the possibility of a Bus station (as in Vauxhall), currently neither Network Rail or the Council want to pay the price of the study.

    Regarding the parking provision, the fact is that we do not know. I personally do not have a car (all my neighbours have one), but sometime friends a coming to visit by car. I assume that those new occupants will have friends… will they park in the neighbourhood already congested?

    As I said a few time, too many questions not answered on the plan itself.

    And last but not least, I personally think that those skyscrapers are horrible and apparently most of the presentations agree with me. When I am looking at the picture there:
    http://towerscj.wordpress.com/2008/12/13/more-photos/
    I am horrified and keep thinking of places where developers where authorized to build, decades ago, and where the population has changed drastically, with areas loosing their welcoming atmosphere and being mostly criticised nowadays for not a place to live in. I don’t want a better station for a much worse place to live in.

  5. Cyril> Plenty to consider. On the issue of the towers’ design , which is certainly v contentious, I think it comes down to aesthetics. I accept many, many people do not like them. Personally, I like the design and think tall thinner buidings are way better than a lower, blockier building.

    I am away on holiday from tomorrow though, so we will have to continue this debate in the New Year

    Kind regards, Dante

  6. Dante: Why shouldn’t Network Rail/the Government do a deal with developers and let them off the bill in these hard times when the poor Gov, is so busy bailing out the bankers?
    Because the developers have only their own interests at heart; witness two inappropriate silly shaped Lego towers and a perfect target for terrorism if ever there was one. They are not concerned with our environment and whether or not we are going to be happy with what they do.
    As for the Canute argument about how the sea shouldn’t do what it does and we shouldn’t have cars…and ‘most people haven’t got them’…maybe you should just have a wander down local streets! And what do you think Asda’s car park is FOR. And what do you think will happen when they also build the proposed Polyclinic? Developers don’t care about these things. They are money making machines onto a good deal. It all needs much more consideration. The proposed architectural structures needs examining. Wandsworth is full of rubbish architecture because developers are like juggernauts grinding the planning process to dust in order to have their ways. And their ways are nearly always as cheap as they can make it.

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