Author: Shirley Passmore [Wandsworth Society]
Difficult to describe what has been going on. Apart from opening speeches as described by Tony Belton, 7 witnesses for the development, both for Minerva and for the Council, have so far given evidence and been questioned closely. You really need to be there. General awareness now that the funding for road works, however probable, is not guaranteed for a variety of reasons. We shall listen to Transport for London tomorrow (Wed) and then the Mayor of London’s people. Possibly some third party speakers will be invited to speak.
In Week 3 there will be two days given over to the Health & Safety Executive who object on the grounds of the hazard of the adjacent gas holder and then a day of the council refuting the claims.
i) Daniel Cove, the architect, full of his own skills and expertise and of course enthusiasm for the buildings. We had opportunity to study the various models which seem to show hundreds of little ants crawling about at the base of the buildings, people of course.
ii) Dr Chris Miele (conservation) was very interesting on the conservation aspects and obviously historically very knowledgeable. Spolt it by saying he thought scheme did not harm the listed buildings. (Wandsworth town centre has biggest concentration of listed buildings in borough, 43, of which 10 are Grade II*)
iii) Paul Burley (planning) unable to answer several questions relating to his Proof of Evidence, constantly referred us to the other experts. He didn’t think that WBC being more than on London Plan target for new homes was any reason why development might be reduced somewhat. Said the views chosen (eg no viewpoints such as from the Crane and the adjacent cottages) were those suggested by WBC. Said, basically, that lack of amenity space (6m sq instead of WBC guideline of 20m sq), poor quality of light to some flats, short distances between windows, and almost anything else that was not as planning guidelines had been accepted by WBC… so that was all right then.
iv) David Hunter Yeats (traffic) Main drift of his evidence (as of all speakers) was that everything was acceptable because of the benefits to be brought by providing funding for new road system. But said also that traffic from the site would be so insignificant it would not be noticed among the present 2000 an hour each way around the system (each way on a one-way system?)
Lots of quotes about the over-capacity of network Rail and buses so they were well able to cope. Other statistics showed the opposite to be true. Under-provision of public car-parking for shops & restaurants was excused on the basis that the Southside car parks could be used (almost every development in the town centre has used this excuse, won’t be long before NCP car park is full all day).
Week 2 (so far…)
John Webb for council (conservation). His Proof of Evidence, 42 pages, did spell out all the wonderful historical heritage in the town centre and also listed some 11 various planning policies designed to protect heritage buildings, did say there was some harm done, but after all the 42 pages he summed it up in one about para that approved of everything and denied serious damage. Got a probing questioning from John Dawson [Wandsworth Society].
Tim Cronin for council (planning) making case that scheme conformed to London Plan, UDP, Core Strategy, Govt guidelines. But it’s all a matter of interpretation ‘may be appropriate’ can also mean ‘may not be’. Questioning of him continues tomorrow.
The Wandsworth has closely questioned all the witnesses so far. The Inspector and the Assistant Inspector make the witnesses answer further questions from them if they consider a Wandsworth Society point has not been answered fully. It has been a tiring and nerve-wracking experience for the society questioners.
Section 106 Agreement was produced yesterday for first time and is being studied by the society.
The timetable for the Ram Brewery inquiry is available on our Agenda page.