Planning Forum meeting January 2011: some feedback

Author: Cyril Richert

On Wednesday, January 19th [1], was organised the semi-annual Planning Forum at Wandsworth Borough Town Hall. You will find below some comments and feedback. They do not intend to replace any minutes and are obviously my own views of the meeting.

Local Development Framework

The Proposed Submission versions of the DMPD (Development Management Policies Document) and SSAD (Site Specific Allocation Document), which provide detailed policies to support the delivery of the Core Strategy, were under public consultation until the 10th December 2010.

The Clapham Junction Action Group has submitted a contribution that you can read HERE. We also raised specific point, received some responses and made comments HERE.

Martin Howell presented the purpose of the Local Development Framework documents with slides.

The current schedule is such as:

  1. April 2011: Submission version to the committee.
  2. May-Dec 2011: Examination by the independent inspector
  3. April 2012: Adoption

In last year’s consultation, they received 73 responses in total, made of 497 comments on the DMPD and 496 comments on the SSAD.

The planning officers made several changes, including the removal of upper limits for the size of the buildings (the Council saw that applicants were testing the policy constantly by submitting all applications at the minimum of the upper limit), mix-housing percentages, clarification on industrial areas, and the removal of the gipsy area proposals (subject to London plan).

Now all area specified in the SSAD documents have been defined with 3 colours where buildings are:

  • inappropriates,
  • sensitive,
  • appropriates (only in the Nine Elms/Vauxhall area with  a cluster of tall buildings).

Size of buildings to be considered tall is generally more than 5 storeys (with 5/6 in the Putney area).

Following the last round of consultation this autumn, the Council received 84 representations on the SSAD (made of 295 comments) and 48 for DMPD (244). The reduction is partly explained by the removal of the gipsy locations which generated a lot of comments previously.

The policy team is currently preparing a consultation report addressing the different representation with the Council’s responses. Although it should be addressing each single comments, the whole document should be much more detailed than the previous report which was only summarizing a few comments.

The officers explained that no fundamental change will be made to the current documents (otherwise it would require another consultation). However the inspector will look at all the representations and will even request more details/explanation from the individuals if necessary before making recommendations.

Localism Bill

The localism bill is at its early stages and it is expected to go through a very long and extended process and controversy in Parliament. In a nutshell it aims to give more power to local authorities.

Amongst the list of changes proposed, I noted that the Council would be no longer required to make changes regarding inspector’s recommendations (which is currently binding). As Philip from the Wandsworth Society commented that it will be removing some weight to the planning consultation, the officers commented that actually some changes will still be mandatory (or so I understood).

Another point was the introduction of a £50 per sqm levy on behalf of the Mayor of London on all infrastructure. The Council seems concerned that it would take money out of their current funding.

Major Development

The planning application for the Battersea Power Station has been approved.

Application for Springsfield hospital (Balham) has been refused.

The new application for the Ram Brewery is moving very slowly (apparently mainly due to the proximity with the gas holder, which was a major concerned in the inspector’s decision to refuse).

Website

Following the numerous problems which affected the Council’s website, it looks like recent improvement (including the change of provider) made the number of complains to drop. There are still issues such as the search within the application database and the automatic email sent for major planning applications with broken links, and the Council encourages people to report all problems.

Next meeting: Tuesday 7th June 2011

[1] Previously planned quarterly for December, it was then postponed to January at the last minute to happen after the end of the planning consultation on DMPD and SSAD documents

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