Author: Cyril Richert
Yesterday in the Wandsworth Guardian:
Wandsworth twin tower development decision due
7:20am Tuesday 12th May 2009
A decision on whether to allow a 42-storey twin tower development in Clapham Junction is due next week.
As well as the skyscapers containing 556 flats the controversial plans, by Metro Shopping Fund (MSF), involve a two-floor shopping plaza and a facelift for Clapham Junction station.
Campaigners argued the towers are too tall, criticised the lack of affordable housing and said station redevelopment should be paid for by rail authorities.
While weighing up the £400million development on Wednesday, May 20, Wandsworth Council’s planning applications committee will judge whether concessions on height and affordable housing are worth trading for station development.
MSF said without the scheme Clapham Junction would “get worse over the next decade”.
Glenn Burton, MSF development director, said: “Without new retail space high street chains, which are a vital part of the mix for a vibrant town centre, will either continue to compete for space with independent retailers which inevitably forces up rents, or they will leave the town centre.
“Our scheme addresses these issues and will help stop the town centre’s decline.”
But Battersea MP Martin Linton, who has called for a parliamentary debate on tall buildings and has presented a petition signed by 552 residents against the proposal to the council, disagreed.
“The development earmarks some £49 million for station improvements and the bulk of this would be spent on building escalators and lifts to the overbridge.
“This is certainly a benefit to Network Rail and Transport for London because it reduces the problem of overcrowding in the tunnel and spreads passengers more evenly along the platform.
“Benefits to local people will be modest. Many will find they have to walk further to the trains,” he said.
“The great majority of people in Battersea face the problem that their sons and daughters cannot afford to rent or buy in the area and are forced to move far away, breaking up families and depriving elderly residents of the care and contact they would normally expect from their children and grandchildren.”
Kate Williams, part of the Clapham Junction Action Group (CJAG), a campaign group set up by residents, said the overwhelming majority of local people were against the scheme.
She said: “Clapham Junction is an area improving all the time and we feel this will be put backwards by the development.”
CJAG was threatened with legal action earlier this year when it attempted to expose allegedly misleading photographs of the twin tower development.