Author: Cyril Richert
A new hotel has been proposed at the bottom of Mossbury Road, 155 Falcon Road (in front of PCS). We have already published an article detailing the planning application and the reason given by the developers/architect. We have also published pictures of the proposed scheme.
In the view of the proposal, we have to study two main aspects:
- Is the scheme an opportunity for the vicinity; and is it going to enhance Clapham Junction? (Is a 16 storey tower block the ideal development of the town centre? Is it the type of architecture that residents wish for their town centre?)
- And is it going to create benefits and lead for future other redevelopments of Clapham Junction?
A development that will fit within the vicinity?
In the recent months, the Clapham Junction Action Group has succeeded in raising the level of awareness the local inhabitants on the development of Clapham Junction town centre. During the campaign against the station redevelopment including two massive tower blocks of 42 stories, hundreds of people have shown that they are opposed not only to Metro’s proposals, but to any proposal which substantially changes the character of the area from that of predominantly low-rise. A large part of these objections can also apply to the hotel scheme:
- The proposed site is very compact and lies at the bottom of an area of homogeneous Victorian and Edwardian low rise houses.
- Any development proposed to take its place should respect the historical and architectural homogeneity of its neighbouring buildings and not repeat the mistakes of the past: The Arding and Hobbs building is the focus for the Lavender Hill and Falcon Road junction and a landmark for the area. To have a building which towers well-over this building would be detrimental to the character of Clapham Junction.
- All of the exiting tall buildings lie to the North of the train tracks with none to the South. The 16 storey tower block will immediately become by far the tallest building this side of the rail track.
- The existing towers, mainly estates from the 60-70’s, are in any event loved by no-one and, to quote a very many e-mails and letters to the Council in the recent months, are examples of what should not be repeated in the area.
Last but not least, and probably the most important of all, you must consider the consequences of such a precedent. By allowing a 16 storey tower blocks, an unprecedented tall building in CJ town centre, you implicitly give full way for a new application to 2 or 3 tower blocks of 20-25 stories on Clapham Junction station. Some will actually remember that this was the initial plan for the station redevelopment (image on the left).
An opportunity for Clapham Junction?
David Rosemont was commenting on this website (8 May):
“The location of the proposed hotel offers connections with public transport unequalled in any other existing or proposed hotel in the area. In addition the hotel is designed to be at the more affordable end of the market. Informed opinion is that this is the right product on the right site.“
In other words, this will be a cheap hotel for people looking for an affordable way of commuting to central London, with the station just hundred yards away. The scheme is not focus on Battersea or Clapham Junction vicinity and will not provide any support for the regeneration of this part of Clapham Junction, despite the claim from the developers.
In addition, little consideration has been given to the noise and disturbance in parking caused by a 132 room hotel. Not only the hotel will operate 24 hours a day, which will be a huge change from the current daily office occupied by a solicitor, but there will be potential noise from the delivery vans, servicing, etc. With the current levels of traffic along Falcon Road, it will automatically increase traffic all along the road (Mossbury is a one way street) and create additional pressure on the limited parking.
An extensive consultation?
The developers have claimed that they organised an extensive consultation before they submitted their application. David Rosemont commented on this website:
“See my comments on the http://www.loveclapham.com website regarding the extensive consultation that has already taken place on the hotel project since November 2007, including a public presentation to the Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership and two exhibition days in April 2008. […] This commenced with the public presentation of the first draft project at the Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership in November 2007. Such meetings are advertised by the Council and are attended by a full range of local residents, businesses, organisations etc.“
I live in Mossbury Road, and did not receive any specific information in the past year. However, as I might have just missed it, I personally asked several residents of the street. In all cases, it appears that the only thing was an exhibition on the ground floor of the building (Woburn House) last year, before the solicitors moved in, advertised by a poster on the window. In addition, I was told that a consultation was organised at the Town Hall, advertised by personal invitation sent to the existing Clapham Junction Town Centre Partnership members. It is therefore very, very far from a full consultation. The only recent information I received was the New Hotel Proposal brochure (that I scanned and make available here), apparently distributed on behalf of the developers, and the official planning application letter sent to the Council (see here). It gives 2 weeks (and a bank holiday weekend) to submit comments and study the proposal. The application might come before the Committee as soon as 25 June 2009!
In addition, David Rosemont said:
“The commentators on this website consistently miss the point that the core strategy document was adopted by elected members of the council after extensive public consultation with members of the public, including local groups. […] The policy that the Council adopted, after extensive public consultation, included the possibility of taller buildings, subject always to many other considerations too. Those consultations included public meetings which happen on a regular basis and are advertised.“
This statement seems to imply that constituents were widely consulted in the process of defining Council guidelines on planning applications. None of that actually happened, and in order to show examples of what is called “extensive public consultation”, there is only need to consider two recent events.
First, the Planning Forum, the object of which is to discuss the wide issues of planning process in the borough was organised last month… after 18 months absence. People attending received a personal invitation, and had to represent an organisation or group. I was told that the minutes will be published in … 6 months, therefore, as far as I’m concerned, I am the only one to have reported on it.
The second example is easily provided by the recent notice (through the Council website, not publicized in Borough News) that a public hearing will be organised for the review of the Council Core Strategy document. As we try – with difficulty – to follow it, you will find information on our website (and thanks for pointing out if you find any other source…). The meeting was meant to happened next week but has been already cancelled. Instead, an exploratory meeting will be held at the Town Hall on the 16th June: you can attend but not participate.
Once again the consultation for a planning application that may have consequences not only on the adjacent streets, but on the all future of the town centre seem to take place in mild confidentiality. Local residents deserve more than 15 days do discuss such planning.
The Council should not approve a scheme that has not definite support for the redevelopment of Clapham Junction town centre, and must acknowledge the concerns that have been expressed so widely in the recent weeks and months on the need of development that respect the Victorian town centre of Clapham Junction, with a coherence of mainly low rise buildings. Once again and for all the previous reasons, this plan must be refused by the Council in its current presentation.
Let the Council know your view
If you would like to join us complaining to the Council about the project, please use one of the following
Council: Planning Application/Paul Landsberg [Ref: 2009/1291]
Tel: (020) 8871 8413
or write to:
Planning Service – Technical Service Department
Wandsworth High Street
London SW18 2PU
Please also contact/email and let them know your concerns:
- Mayor of London, Boris Johnson: email@example.com
- Battersea MP, Martin Linton: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wandsworth Planning Committee members, writing to Martin Newton, Committee Secretary: MNewton@wandsworth.gov.uk and/or the chairman of the committee, Councillor Leslie McDonnell.
All contact details available HERE.