Author: Cyril Richert
The day of our Public Meeting that they refused to attend, Metro Shopping Fund (the joint venture between Delancey and Land Securities) distributed a leaflet on their proposal, answering some questions. You can read the PDF version here.
We welcome the initiative to communicate on the planning, although we found some gross misleading all along the document. We thought it was worth commenting (in brown) some extracts (in green) of the brochure bellow (for full quote and page number, please refer to the PDF document above).
Brochure page 1:
A) “Metro Shopping Fund’s redevelopment plans for Clapham Junction will deliver major improvements to the station that will enhance the passenger experience dramatically. […] A new 707m2 ticket hall and entrance in the Victorian Brighton Buildings on St John’s Hill, which will incorporate new lifts ans escalators.”
B) “These improvements facilitate a substantial increase in capacity and help relieve congestion by re-organising the way in which passenger access the platforms. […] this would reduce traffic in the subway, which would be used primarily for passengers changing platforms.”
C) “The proposed Clapham Junction redevelopment will also provide the land required to straighten and lengthen platforms 14 to 17 […] making boarding easier”
A) With this, the developers are associated the lifts to their improvement efforts. This is a false representation; in reality the lifts are currently put in place on Brighton Yard entrance (opening at the end of the year) and their cost of about £9 millions is paid by the government (as Martin Linton said: “contractors are installing 9 lifts at Clapham Junction station as part of the Government’s £370 million Access fo All scheme. The Brighton Yard entrance at the top of St John’s Hill will be re-opened with a ticket office to provide direct access to the overbridge and the lifts“).
B) Actually the truth is that by the end of the year, we will have 3 entrances to CJ station: a main one in St John’s Hill, Brighton Yard and Grand Road. The developers plan is proposing to close the main one. Therefore I find it difficult to imagine how it can make things easier for passengers. In addition, experience in Redhill shows that closing the entrance to the under-path to use the over-bridge only was a mistake and they are reversing to original now.
C) Misrepresentation again as the straightening and lengthening of the platforms are part of Network Rail Strategic Plan since 2006… nothing to do with Metro Shopping Fund.
Brochure page 2:
A) “Why does the development need to have two tall buildings? To pay for the major station improvements the plan needs to generate a significant amount of funding”
B) “Why does Network Rail need to involve a developer to improve the station? […] This way a higher number of stations can be refurbished helping to bring wider benefits to local communities such as homes, shops and jobs and ensure the tax payers’ money is invested wisely.”
C) “I live to the east of the station. How much further will I have to walk to get to the new entrance? […] you will only need to walk an additional 44 meters.”
A) As a local resident recently emailed me: “Clapham Junction station definitely needs serious improvements, and the reasons for this have been well rehearsed. However, it must surely be the responsibility of Network Rail to carry out these improvements. We have a major London station here, and it is a disgrace that we should rely on a trade-off with private developers to provide what should be expected as a matter of course from the rail network company. It is incumbent on Wandsworth Council to work with the Company to ensure that the upgrade of the station is carried out to a standard befitting one of the most important transport hubs in the country. Spending time, money and energy on considering the building of two tower blocks is not the way to deal with improving our station. ” I could not say it better.
B) As we wrote back in November, the present proposals are nothing more than an opportunity for Network Rail to save money by joining forces with a commercial developer whose sole interest is to maximise the retail and letting potential of the site to the detriment of the local community and rail passengers.
This is written in black and white in the Network Rail Strategic Business Plan October 2007:
P157: We are also exploring opportunities with private-partner investors to develop significant station improvements at the following stations:
• Clapham Junction.
During our Public Meeting in January (which Delancey refused to participate to, saying that “public meeting forums are not the best way to discuss elements of the scheme“), Cllr Philip Beddows talked about the necessity to have “somewhere where you actually love to be and can be proud of, rather than an environment that can be replicated anywhere […] we need to consider the legacy that the decision will leave on the people who will be living here beyond us“. I don’t think he was suggesting that the current proposal was a greater benefit for the community and that all wise taxpayers are NIMBY.
C) Er, what about the the increased walking distance across the over-bridge compared with the shorter distances along the tunnel?
Brochure page 3:
A) “Are you going to do anything to improve the bus stops at Clapham Junction? […] We are working with Transport for London and Wandsworth Council to try and find a way of improving the organisation of the bus stops.”
B) “How many new jobs will be created by the new development? The new development will create around 515 jobs.”
C) “Why must Clapham Junction station be improved? Clapham Junction is Britain’s busiest railway station. […] Metro Shopping Fund’s investment at Clapham Junction is vital, otherwise these improvements will not be delivered for the foreseeable future.
A) Mark Hunter, the Council’s Planning Officer, highlighted in his letter to the developer that there was actually no consideration given to the station’s position as a major rail/bus interchange. Longer walking distances to the bus stops on Falcon Road and insufficient capacity around the bus stops for people waiting. Is it what metro called “working with TfL and the Council“?
B) What about the loss of 241 full time jobs at PCS? The destruction of the existing bars and shops on the way from the Falcon to the Brighton building? The existing jobs in Shopstop? That might well be about 500 job destroyed…
C) We cannot disagree on that. CJ needs a redevelopment, definitely. But as we explained here, the best way to get the station improved is to refuse the planning permission.
Brochure page 4:
A) “Has the Metro Shopping Fund conducted any consultation on its plans for Clapham Junction? In order to understand your views and to gain input to the project, Metro conducted a comprehensive consultation […] the feedback we received was very positive – with overwhelming support for the proposed station improvements (80% plus) and strong support for the residential buildings (70% plus).”
B) “How can we get to see what the tall buildings will look like? We have published in this leaflet some views…”
C) “How will the proposals boost the existing town centre? Clapham Junction town centre has suffered decline in recent years with local people going elsewhere to do their shopping.”
A) Question here is simple: is Metro Shopping Fund lying, do they hide their head in a hole or do they just ask the relatives of their shareholders their opinions? Truth is that there is actually an overwhelming support against their proposal, as shown here. In addition, do I need to remind you – again – that they refused to participate on the platform to our Public Meeting, on the basis that “public meeting forums are not the best way to discuss elements of the scheme“?
B) On the proposal, cost of the skyscrapers vs the station improvements is about 70% vs 30%. However, in the “newsletter” you will count 5-6 photos of the proposed new station, and only 3-4 photos of the towers (none of them showing the full scale). Is Metro still ashamed of their mis-representation to the point of threatening us when we tried to show an impression of the buildings? No worries, I will help them here, by displaying their scale model:
C) Really? How do they know that while in a listener poll conducted by Radio 4’s Today programme in conjunction with CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment), Northcote Road was voted London’s second favourite shopping street? See http://www.welovenorthcoteroad.com
Last but not least, a few local residents sent us comments to the leaflet they received and agreed to be published here :
From: Gareth Davies
Dear Mr Hunter
I today received yet another misleading pamphlet through my door trying to garner support for the monstrous twin tower block proposal for Clapham Junction.
I am extremely disturbed at the misleading way the pictures in this pamphlet have been rendered. It is clear to me that they do not show the true nature of the proposed buildings and I’m very fearful that the pamphlets will persuade people to support the application and be horrified when they see how it genuinely turns out.
I fully support the idea of regeneration of Clapham Junction, but we MUST reject this proposal and find an alternative that will not ruin Clapham Junction’s character forever.
Please reject the proposal urgently so we can work towards something more constructive and more aesthetically appropriate!
Dr Gareth Davies
Another email sent to planning application:
From: Joanna Maude
Dear Mr Hunter
I have already written to you once before about the proposed redevelopment around Clapham Junction and understand that there are much needed access and accessibility issues around the station which have been over due for years, but this being tied in with the development of two 42 story tower blocks is inappropriate.
* The blocks do not appear to offer any sustainable housing
* The flats are not appropriate for families
* The flats do not add to the local community as they are
* The development will add more shop spaces when there are already vacant shops in St Johns Road and Northolt Road
* The additional residents will only cause additional overcrowding on the already overcrowded transport system
I work in the creative industries and have an interest in the build environment, and do not have a problem with modern buildings but they need to be suited to their local and other properties/buildings in the vicinity, plus the surrounding landscape. These are an eyesore in the local area in terms of complimenting the existing building, disregarding their height which again does not fit with the other buildings.
I attended a public meeting on Wednesday 28 January which was interesting and informative and it was great that there were some local councillors in the audience. The following day I received some material through my later box from Delancey/Land Securities promoting the development and requesting residents to agree to it, the material was very misleading, both in terms of the image and content.
And a last example:
From : Penelope Cranford
February 9, 2009
I am writing with regard to the planning application for the Metro Shopping Fund development at Clapham Junction.
There seems to me to be three clear, separate issues to this proposal: the up-grading of Clapham Junction station; the two 42 storey skyscraper buildings and the shopping and general improvement of the Clapham Junction area. Somehow, perhaps because of the funding of this development, they have been presented to us, the residents, as interdependent. Certainly, there can be no dispute that Clapham Junction station is in urgent need of improvement but does that mean, therefore, that the developers can ask and draw-up plans for a scheme, that would appear to go against all the guidelines to town centre planning? Furthermore, that the planning officers have allowed, and may even recommend, a development of this scale purely to precipitate the station up-grade. In the current issue of your Brightside magazine, Guy Senior, commenting on the improvements proposed for Earlsfield station says: “We’ve got to keep the pressure on Network Rail to deliver these improvements”. I’m sure Earlsfield, along with many other stations in the Borough – Battersea Park Road, for example – are all deserving of an up-grade but none carry the volume of commuters that Clapham Junction does. What pressure is being applied to Network Rail on behalf of Clapham Junction and shouldn’t it take precedence?
The two skyscrapers will stand so far above the existing buildings in the area and totally dominate the skyline. There is no green space, or open space at the Junction. It is just that. A major traffic junction: 240 buses an hour, I read, pass through, plus cars, taxis and people on the pavements. It is over congested now and the sheer density of this scheme: 1,000 people, 290 car parking spaces in an area already bursting will make it worse. Why? A few hundred yards up St. John’s Hill the old Gala bingo hall is being developed for housing; opposite there is an infill block of flats and opposite that the old pub site is also being developed. Then of course further up the road there is the newly approved Ram Brewery development of 1,000 new homes. Is there really the demand for all these apartments? Families with young children will not want to live 42 stories up overlooking the country’s busiest train station and young single people will not be able to afford them?
What also of the regard for the surrounding buildings? The architect talks of the Grand theatre opposite the station, there is the listed Falcon pub and Debenhams store on the opposite corner. All buildings of period architecture and completely at odds with the proposed shiny huge towers.
Shopping at Clapham Junction has been in decline in recent years, the developers say. As the council has always been keen to promote the Arndale centre to the detriment of Clapham Junction, is that surprising. The Northcote road thrives as does Battersea Rise with all the restaurants. Now with Waitrose and other new shops opening, St John’s Road is slowly improving. Why then, for example, does the Council permit another betting shop to open on Lavender Hill when there are already two others in the immediate area?
It is difficult to understand, given the weight of all these arguments, that this scheme should be given the go-ahead to be developed or even have been considered in the first place. I would welcome your comments.