Hotel proposal for Falcon road: issues raised and responses from the developer

>> Your chance to contribute: tell us what your think on Clapham Junction station redevelopment

Author: Cyril Richert

Following a comment received from David Hargreaves, Tim Glass, the developer for the hotel proposal in Falcon Road has answered the different issues raised. See below the “discussion”.

For more information about the proposal for Woburn House, 155 Falcon Road read HERE and see our meeting with the developer HERE.

Email from David Hargreaves commenting on the planning application:

Dear Cyril,

The new hotel plan is certainly a vast improvement and for the most part unobjectionable. My two main thoughts are these :

I agree with you that the building should only be seven storeys. Principles should be stuck to. More importantly, however, I think the frontage of the top one or even two storeys should be slightly slanted backwards (perhaps with dormer style windows) or slightly stepped back (perhaps with small balconies in front) or both. This will enable the building to harmonise better with its neighbours. Both the prominent tower on Debenhams and the prominent dome thingy on the Fitness First gym taper upwards, while the top floor of the CPSU building is severely recessed. This “diminishing” effect is a clear feature of the neighbourhood architecture and the hotel should attempt to conform with it. At the moment the hotel is planned as a uniform sharp-edged box. Minor alterations at the top would make an important difference to its overall look, very much for the better. The impact of this on the size of the rooms on the top floor/s would be trivial.

As you point out, it appears that no provision at all has been made for the presence of motor traffic. There is nowhere even to pull in, let alone park. Though the new plan is for a much smaller hotel, there will still need to be deliveries, and taxis will need to pick up and drop off. But where? None of these activities can take place on either Falcon Road or Falcon Lane without causing immediate traffic disruption. The only possibility therefore appears to be Mossbury Road. I think the two residents’ parking spaces immediately adjoining the hotel site there may have to be specifically allocated for short term hotel-related parking only. How will the residents of Mossbury Road feel about this, particularly when 6 new residential units are to be added as well? So far as additional parking is concerned, for example for the cars of hotel guests, it should be made an absolute condition of the granting of planning permission that the developers make a deal with Lidl or Asda and any successor owner/occupants of these sites to accommodate such vehicles.

Best wishes,

David

Response received from Tim Glass, Director of Oak Trading Company Ltd:

Dear Cyril,

As agreed, I am coming back to you on the recent comments that have been made on the design/height, parking and taxis

1. DESIGN/ HEIGHT

I am pleased that the comments about the proposed hotel building and its design from your contributors to date have been pretty positive, but we are bound to get some criticism, especially on design matters, that are subject to personal taste and opinion.

I can assure you that an enormous amount of care, effort and expense has gone into the design that is now presented. Our architects have been liaising with the Council Planning Department and the Conservation Officers (who incidently suggested the glass parapet which I think is a nice feature which will soften the roof line and add interest- although it doesn’t show up very well on the CGIs). Also, at the architects own suggestion, we engaged a separate firm of consultants (who have worked with major architectural practices all over the world) to scrutinize the emerging design and offer specialist advice on the reconstituted stone cladding system and other architectural features.

It really is nigh on impossible to keep everyone happy, but we have done our best to come up with a building to fit the bill. Actually, your contributor David Curran encapsulates what we have tried to achieve pretty succinctly when he says:-

“They’ve struck a decent balance between the need to blend in to the fairly varied but low rise Victorian streetscape, without falling into the trap of going for an appalling pastiche ‘traditional’ look (which really hasn’t weathered too well in the Shopstop, or the Asda, both only 20 or so years old but looking very cheap and tacky indeed…).”

With respect, I think that slants/mansard slopes/dormers and step backs are erring towards the latter territory and there is, frankly, very little at all that I would like to borrow or repeat from the neighbouring 80s architecture. Also, the dome on the Fitness first building and especially the cupola on top of the the old Arding and Hobbs building are, intentionally, very distinctive features which aren’t intended, surely, to relate to any other features and our roofline won’t match in with them, in some way or other- whether it is clean /square edged or slanted/set back etc.

Without wishing to get too “airy fairy”, the objective is to provide a building of quality (in terms of performance as well as appearance) that is it’s own, “honest” as opposed to pastiche/borrowed, design. It is intentionally modern with a clean/ fresh appearance. It doesn’t shout out at you or try to be a landmark, however, and the texture and shades of the reconstituted stone cladding are selected to harmonise with existing tones (in adjacent buildings such as Fitness First). If we were to start hacking it about we’ll soon end up with some sort of committee solution, or what is sometimes called, a “camel” ( I am sure you know the old joke “ a camel is a horse designed by a committee”).

Apart from the fact that I don’t think its appearance would be improved by it being 3 m or so less in height, you know my view on reducing the number of storeys. We honestly can’t and therefore won’t. Please also remember the point I made about actual physical height as opposed to number of floors and that each site should be taken on it’s merits.

As another of your contributors says we are not ”going for broke” (i.e. an extreme or intentionally overly bold scheme that we could cut down on). Instead, we have listened and reacted to all of the points that arose from our previous application, compromised as much as possible and come up with as good a scheme as we can.

2. PARKING

In terms of parking policy the site’s location is the classified at the highest PTAL (Public Transport Accessibility Level) possible, in terms of access by public transport and the idea is to discourage rather than encourage car use.

The London Plan, which is referred to in the Councils Core Strategy states (inter alia) that for hotels;

• Small hotels, particularly those in central London, should have no on site parking provision.

• Hotels in town centres should generally not have on-site parking provision or coach parking beyond operational requirements. (None of the operators that we have spoken to will accept coach trade, by the way)

Actually, the transport assessment which has been carried out for the proposed hotel concludes that the level of car based trips that the site would generate over the 12 hour period 07:00 to 19:00 would be lower than under the site’s existing use. Even so, it is recognised that a small number of guests may choose to, or occasionally have no alternative but to drive to the hotel. As you know, 2 disabled parking bays are proposed in Mossbury Road, but apart from this, any such general car parking demand would have to be met by public parking facilities in the area.

A public off-street car park (Stop Shop) exists opposite the site on Station Approach. This pay and display car park has around 30 spaces and is open 24 hours a day with daytime charges of up to £20 for 10 hours parking. In addition, parking for a 24 hour period is available in the ASDA car park (where there are plenty of spaces) for a £10 charge. There is no need for guests to park in Mossbury Road and I agree that this should be actively discouraged. Perhaps the residents only parking period (for residents only spaces) could be extended -even to all night, and I don’t think that any one is likely to risk a ticket or being clamped/towed away for the sake of a £10 charge for parking 100yds or so away.

3. TAXIS

I see that the transport assessment concludes that combined car and taxi trips generated by the hotel will actually be less than for the current building, although there is likely to be more taxi use for a hotel. The assessment suggests that the hotel may generate 28 additional taxi passengers (coming or going) in a 24 hour period, but it is also recognised that taxi trips generated by hotel use, frequently involve multiple use (i.e. more than one passenger at a time). Consequently, it is likely that the actual number of taxis (which are concentrated in the 17.00-23.00 hrs period) will be substantially less than 28 over a 24 hr period. In addition, outgoing trips which one might reasonably assume are about 50%, are often likely to start from Lavender Hill or the taxi rank in St Johns Hill. As with cars, the idea is to encourage public transport and so I don’t honestly think that a taxi rank or designated dropping off point for the relatively modest number of taxis actually visiting the site is a good idea.

I hope this helps

Regards

Tim

Additional comment received from David Hargreaves afterwards:

I have actually had another look a Mossbury Road. There is already a section on the south side I hadn’t properly noticed, pretty much opposite the hotel site, which has a yellow line and is restricted to deliveries. This might be able to serve adequately for both hotel servicing and taxi pick-up and drop-off. But the need to find proper parking for hotel guests’ cars, such as on the Lidl car park, remains important and must be addressed before planning permission is given.

If the presence of a hotel plus the building of 6 new residential units brings real pressure on residents’ parking in Mossbury Road, here is a cheeky thought. At the top end of the road outside HSBC bank is a special motorcycle parking bay. There may be a good reason why it is there, but equally there may not. If more car parking space is desperately needed, perhaps Wandsworth could find a new location for the motorcycle bay, perhaps in the station car park for example. This is obviously just shifting the problem, but anyway. There also seems to be an unnecessary yellow line outside no 65 near the motorcycle bay.

David

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