Author: Cyril Richert
When considering the new proposal for the Ram Brewery, two things come to mind:
- The Council appears to have already decided to approve (except maybe not if we get 300,000 objections)
- There are many reasons to object.
We have already reported in a recent article that the Council is already considering the proposal as a “fait accompli”. It approved the previous scheme (with two towers) before it was turned down by the Minister so to refuse the new (one tower) does not seem, to it, to make sense.
However, this gives little respect to the decision of the Secretary of States who wrote on 30 June 2010:
“The presence of the two tall towers on the northern edge of the site would be so overwhelming that they would harm the character and setting of listed buildings and undermine the distinctive quality of the conservation area.
For the reasons given at IR18.47-48, the Secretary of State also agrees with the Inspector that the proposed development would not be fully consistent with policies in PPS1 and with national policy guidance on planning and the historic environment, as currently set out in PPS5, which superseded PPG15 following the close of the inquiry“
Yes, the previous plan was in breach of government policies, yet it appears prepared to continue to ignore this.
The previous scheme was even referred to the full Council on 3 December 2008 and this flawed proposal was approved unanimously by all the Tory members of the Council (see the full report HERE, page 226 – in italic below, they are no longer councillors):
MISS ALLAN, MRS. A. GRAHAM, MRS. MCDERMOTT, BEDDOWS, MRS. V. GRAHAM, MCDONNELL, MS. CHURCH, GRIMSTON, MCNAUGHT-DAVIS, MRS. CLAY, HART, MISS NICKELS, MRS. J. COOPER, HEASTER, PENFOLD, COUSINS, HOPE, PROF. PRICHARD, CUFF, JACOB, PUGH, DAVIES, MARTIN D., SENIOR, JOHNSON, DAWSON, KING, MRS. STOKES, MRS. DUNN, KNOWLES, MRS. STRICKLAND, ELLIS, LARSSON, THOM, FINN, LISTER, MS. TORRINGTON, MISS FORBES, MADDAN, MRS. TRACEY, GOVINDIA, MCCAUSLAND, WALDEN
If they are your current councillors, you may ask them, for example, why they approved a scheme that was later considered as inappropriate by the Secretary of States and in breach of many policies, in a very costly and long inquiry (one of the biggest in London in recent history)?
Reasons to object
As we said the council has a record of not paying much attention to objections so there is very little hope that yours will be given much consideration but without any doubt we encourage you to do so.
On Peabody’s application the Council ignored the 336 letters of objections received along with the Victorian Society, the Clapham Junction Action Group, the Wandsworth Society, Wandsworth Green Party and the Wandsworth Conservation Area Advisory Committee all raised objections. Conservative Cllr John Hallmark said:
“Councillors are elected to make decisions for the whole Borough of 303,000 people – not just 300 or so objectors.”
On the planned development for the Putney hospital site, which attracted 315 letters of objections (about the same amount as against the Peabody scheme) along with 323 pre-printed postcards + 20 general comments and only 9 supports, Cllr Kathy Tracey said:
“It is unfortunate that a small number of people are trying to prevent a much needed primary school being built by tying us up in litigation.”
Do you think the Council is showing any respect for your views?
Beside, they are many factual reasons to object and we give you a list below:
- The 35 storey skyscraper has got no justification for the area. Although tall buildings already exist in Wandsworth Town such as the towers built near Southside shopping centre in the 70′s, and the new developments such as the controversial Osier Road, the Ram Brewery site consist currently only of the Capital Studios buildings (3 to 4-storeys) and residential units with 4-storeys (with basements), stepping down to 3-storey buildings currently used as offices, a 2-storey residential house and finally the Crane Public House located on the corner.
- The Secretary of States said that “The presence of the two tall towers on the northern edge of the site would be so overwhelming that they would harm the character and setting of listed buildings and undermine the distinctive quality of the conservation area“. Surely one tower of the same size is not magically become sympathetic.
- The siting oftower buildings on the north of the site is considered, in the judgement of the Appeal Inspector, to be “intrusive”, “overly prominent” and to “unacceptably compromise” the setting of the important Grade II* town centre buildings – All Saints Church and Church Row – and to fail to respect the scale and character of the Conservation Area and surrounding local townscape (Inspector’s Report Conclusions 19.6 and 19.8 p172). Thus, the Secretary of State has endorsed the unacceptability of tower buildings at the north of the site and, consequently, has set this as a precedent for the assessment of future schemes.
- The Inspector considered that the previously proposed tower buildings harmed the nearby Listed Buildings at the Appeal, and there is nothing in the current application that warrants it being given exceptional status either; the schemes are similar in context with a grossly oversized and dominant tower block within metres of two “highly significant” Grade II* Listed Buildings harming their setting. The principal development is contrary to planning policy at the highest level.
- The proposed tower of 35 storeys is actually taller than one of the previous refused, which were 32 and 42 storey towers.
- In planning statements, they ignored the concept of “conservation“, basing all their statements on regeneration.
- The tall building policy (mostly used to justify the 35 storey tower) is poorly argued with misleading statements. In theory, we should have every single building exceeding 5 storeys confronted to the 15 criteria of policy DMS4(b).
- Despite moving the tower away from the gas holder, there will be still part of the scheme in proximity. As they promise not to build on the northern part until the gas holder is gone, this means that it could still take 10 to 15 years (not doubt that when asking for planning permission to complete the scheme at that time it will be granted straight away).
- The Design Access statement is flawed and we disagree with its conclusion.
Feel free to reuse those points, along with your own concerns, in your objection (time is limited as we all know, and regarding the respect showed to our letters…)!
Ref: Planning Application 2012/5286 – Ram Brewery
The Planning Service
The Town Hall
Wandsworth High Street
London SW18 2PU
In order to be more effective, you may send your message to:
- us, CJAG (post it in our contact box)
- your local councillors (especially if they approved the previous flawed plan!)
- members of the planning committee (by asking your letter to be forwarded to each member of the planning application committee):
- Jane Ellison, Battersea MP: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are a series of drawing from the developer documents (with no use of wide-angle view or nice flowers and people smiling all along):