Ram Brewery: a list of reasons for objection

Author: Cyril Richert

When considering the new proposal for the Ram Brewery, two things come to mind:

  1. The Council appears to have already decided to approve (except maybe not if we get 300,000 objections)
  2. There are many reasons to object.

Fait accompli

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in PPS1 and with national policy guidance on planning and the historic environment, as currently set out in PPS5, which superseded PPG15 following the close of the inquiry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):


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

Toby Feltham
The Planning Service
Wandsworth Council
The Town Hall
Wandsworth High Street
London SW18 2PU

In order to be more effective, you may send your message to:

  • your local councillors (especially if they approved the previous flawed plan!)

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):





23 thoughts on “Ram Brewery: a list of reasons for objection

  1. I do think the stuff I’ve read here rather ignores the clear fact that tall buildings seem to exist perfectly well across the road at Southside. There is nothing intrinsictly wrong or evil in a tall building

    • The last image in the article above actually shows the tower beside the shopping centre. The new tower is 20-25% higher.

      In addition, other tall buildings in the larger area are mentioned in our first point:
      “Although tall buildings already exist in Wandsworth Town such as the towers built near Southside shopping centre in the 70′s…”

      You must consider the argument of the government inspector, after a long inquiry (20 days in autumn 2009 and a report and decision in 2010), who said:
      “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.”

      Therefore it considers such imposing towers 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.

      It does not ignore the fact that other towers exist. It says that it does not exist on the Ram Brewery site and will compromise the Grade II buildings and the conservation area.

  2. This is a well considered scheme. It will bring life, energy and character into our town centre. I like all the design elements including the tower. The tall building will work very well in this context. I hope this is not held up, as the existing empty site is ugly and discourages investment in our town centre. Good luck to all involved and I am very thankful that you are persistently continuing with the project through to completion. Thank you!

  3. This tower is great for London, for me the most selfish and damaging people to a city and country are nimbys, Asian cities are powering ahead of us because of nimbyism, London was the aviation Capitol of the world, but we lost that title last year thanks to the ninnies that prevented heathrows expansion, we cannot compete with china and Asia if we are unable to even build anything because some selfish nimby doesn’t want their view ruined. If you don’t like urbanism or tall buildings, you shouldn’t be living in a global city like London, if you want village life, go and live in a village, London is the only major city in the world that doesn’t have a skyline, that is a national humiliation for Britain, paris and even Frankfurt have skyscraper skylines that put London to shame, this is the 21st century, London deserves to have a good skyline, so finally people from around the world will stop laughing at how backwards we are

    • Really? London is the only major city in the world that doesn’t have a skyline? I thought that St Paul, Big Ben, the London Eye and Tower Bridge were all part of the skyline… Or maybe you want to compete with the skyline of Dubai? In that case many cities like Paris, Rome or Madrid don’t have a skyline… What skyscraper in Paris? La Defense is not even Paris but anyway London has got Canary Wharf. I haven’t heard that Parisian felt humiliated for that.

      • La defence puts canary wharf to shame, in 24 years canary wharf have managed to build seven towers, that is embarrassing, London is the only major city that doesn’t have a modern skyline, the thing is that Britain is so lucky that we have some of the best architects in the world, they would love to design projects in London, but they have to go abroad to work. The few towers that London does have, especially in the city, are fantastic quality, much better that the tasteless dross in Dubai or shanghai, I don’t want London to look like that, but is it too much to ask that in a almost entirely low rise city, that we can’t have one or two decent skyscraper clusters, is that so bad, in an ocean of low rise, I don’t think a couple of skyscraper clusters is too much to ask for. London could look so fabulous, the worst building in London are the hideous post war groundscrapers and tower blocks, the river Thames bank is a disgrace, all those vile groundscrapers would have been beautifull slender towers of amazing quality if it wasn’t for nimbys and English heritage. I want a London where the old and new combine, where we have the best of both

      • Fine, but La Defense is not in Paris, but overlapping 4 other cities: Courbevoie, Puteaux, Nanterre and La Garenne-Colombes, all in the suburb. Paris has got only the Eiffel Tower, the Montparnasse tower (that many find a shameful building) and a few blocks along the river Seine in the 16th area that are higher than the standard 7-8 floors allowed.

        In comparison actually London has changed dramatically within the last 15 years, with skyscrapers emerging in different spots but with no overall city planning, an anarchy criticised by many architects according to a recent article published in Le Monde.

  4. The thing that makes me despair is English heritage, there are historic buildings being demolished all the time, and English heritage do nothing, but as soon as someone wants to make a positive investment to London and build a high quality skyscraper, English heritage jump up shouting immediately, and there objection is always the same, they just hate tall buildings, they would rather see an historic building demolished. And replaced by low rise mediocrity ground scrapers, than a post war block being replaced by a beautiful slender tower, they are fanatics, zealots, they epitomise the twisted ideology of nimbyism, because at its core nimbyism is just plain selfishness, people happy to ruin londons future just so they have a view with no tall buildings in, it is ridiculous. English heritage will say that building a skyscraper in the city negatively affects the Tower of London, but if English heritage has existed in the tenth century, there would not be a Tower of London, they would of objected to it, saying its too tall lol, the same with St. Paul’s. london is an international city, a global giant, it is not a village, London deserves to have the skyline that reflects its status, my dream is to see London with its beautiful old architecture and beautifull new skyscrapers too

  5. Unfortunately we cannot find any beautiful slender tower which will enhance the Grade II building and the conservation area in the scheme… As it happened, the government itself, a bunch of nimbies, fanatics and zealots according to your definition, couldn’t find one either when they refused the plan two years ago.

    • If English heritage and other assorted nimbys had existed five hundred years ago, almost all of our historic landmark buildings would not exist today, do you want a future where students studying archeaology of the different centuries, reach the chapter about the 21st century, and find a blank page, sorry there was no 21st century architecture, they weren’t allowed to build anything then, I’m not talking about the specific Wandsworth project, personally I think towers work better in clusters and don’t look good when they are on there own, the shard should have been built in the city cluster, it would of at least helped improve londons skyline there. What I object to is the masses of people who object to a building purely because its tall, as if the very concept of height offends them, that is called extremism, English heritage waged a war they couldn’t win, and now they have become almost irrelevant, no one listens to them anymore, thankfully, they should do what they were created for, protecting our old architecture, not trying to stop any development that is over fifty feet tall

  6. The inhabitants of the tower should inject new life into the area. A little bit of overshadowing is a small price to pay for a beautiful new development. The pedestrianized area will also attract people to the town centre and it’ll encourage them to enjoy the listed buildings of the area. Currently the town centre is dead. A low rise alternative will always be a worse alternative because it prohibits the developer from using high quality materials, designs, and bonuses like the pedestrian zone. High rises generate a lot of money for the developer, money of which a considerable portion is pumped back into the scheme and the area. Instead of complaining about height, you would do better to pressure the developer to use high quality materials and give to the local community in other ways. The developer might actually listen to you then, and everyone would be better off.

  7. Building a tall building does not negatively affect the older buildings, demolishing historic buildings is unforgivable, but it happens every week and English heritage do nothing to stop it, because they are obsessed with tall buildings, they care more about stopping new towers than protecting old buildings, I just think that is wrong. When you see an aerial photo of paris, you can see how incredibly dense and urban it is, when you’re in paris it feels like a big city, London does not look or feel like a big city, London is the lowest density city in Europe, aerial photos of London show mainly trees, brown shrubbery and parks, a whole third of London is park land, that is ridiculous, in paris it is only one with, London is a financial Capitol and needs to look and feel like one, London needs to build up and increase its density, I was directed to this from skyscraper city, if ldneurope is reading, there are several London towers under construction over 100m that don’t have threads on the international section, can you please open threads for the following towers. Saffron square 136m u/c. City road tower 130m u/c. Kings cross lands plot t6 102m u/c. City road grove world 29 floors u/c. Lots road towers 115&90m u/c. These are all great towers that don’t have threads on the international high rise section, could you please open threads for them, the world should see all the construction we have going on in London right now, please open threads for them on ssc, thanks

  8. In paris if you want to build a tall building, you have to build it in the same place, the cluster of la defense, it’s because of this policy that la defence looks so impressive and is so much bigger than canary wharf or the city of London. I think paris have got it right, they preserve all their historic buildings in the centre of paris, and create an amazingly impressive skyscraper cluster on the outscurts of paris at la defence, in London we have two small clusters at the city and canary wharf, then lots of line random towers spread randomly around the city. If we had built all the skyscrapers in London in one place, London would have the best modern skyline and biggest cluster in Europe, I don’t like singular towers awkwardly sticking out on their own in a sea of low rise, London has improved its skyline considerably in the past twenty years, but were still behind paris, Frankfurt and Moscow, because they put all their towers together, which creates an attractive skyline. London is the only city in the eu with a super tall, which is great, but it should have been built with the other towers in the city. London is the financial Capitol of the world, but since the banking crash, London has also become the insurance Capitol of the world, the city cluster of skyscrapers are almost all insurance firms now, the American giant AON recently moved their global headquarters from Chicago to London, they will be tenants at the new cheese grater skyscraper at 122 leaden hall. Another American insurance giant are moving to London and building a new skyscraper in the city cluster on lime street, the gerkin tower is the Swiss re insurance group headquarters, in the same cluster there ate several other towers with insurance firms headquartered there, like the lloyds building, the aviva tower, the willis tower, the 20 fenchurch walkie talkie tower, there is also soon to be the pinnacle tower, 100 bishopsgate tower and heron plaza tower, the quill tower and three spite projects would help the shard be a cluster in its own right. At the moment in London, instead of having one or two larger and more attractive clusters, we have several smaller ones, there is canary wharf cluster, with wood wharf and stream light, there is the city cluster, there is the smaller broad gate cluster, the smaller Stratford cluster, the smaller Croydon cluster, the new city road cluster, the new aldgate cluster, the exceptional quality new black friars cluster, the fantastic beaux hall nine elms cluster, the Greenwich cluster, the elephant and castle cluster and the kings cross clusters, all of those clusters are under construction and being built now, if all the approved towers get built, London will be the envy of Europe, but I would rather have two huge clusters than several small ones

    • When you say “I don’t like singular towers awkwardly sticking out on their own in a sea of low rise” you seem to agree with us now and even with the Wandsworth Society and many others including the government inspector who did the inquiry 2 years ago: Wandsworth town is not a place for a skysckraper. The Council has already allocated Nine Elms and closer to Vauxall for the cluster.

      Then to be coherent you should also now object to Wandsworth Council’s plan to build a 36 storey tower in the middle of a conservation area and an area of low rise building. 🙂

  9. La defense looks more impressive because its bigger, buy most of the towers are old and of poor quality, in London our towers are much better quality, design, architect, materials and cladding, we have two very different clusters, there is the North American style boxy tower cluster at canary wharf, and the more artistic and cutting edge designs skyscrapers at the city cluster, canary wharf has planning consent for seventeen new towers, if they all got built London would look magnificent. The new vauxhall nine elms cluster has thirteen towers with planning consent, if they get built, the horrible river Thames bank will be transformed from 1950s lowrise mediocrity, to fantastic quality elegant towers, the new black friars has permission to build seven new towers, and they are all great designs, several other towers and clusters coins really transform London as most are being built on derelict brownfield sites, like canary wharf was. If London finally build these towers we will quickly be the best in Europe, in terms of quality, and design, London is already the best in Europe, but because our clusters are do small with no density and not enough towers it brings us down the rankings, but the way things are going, we will soon be at the top and have a city to be proud of

  10. I understand you object to tall buildings in Wandsworth. But. Without this tall building none of the brewery site will be developed. It will rot. And eventually all be razed and then tall buildings will be built anyway. In 2013 buildings are tall, get over it. Let’s campaign for quality public space, paving, trees. Look at Singaporewhich has preserved colonial architecture, built huge towers, and planted a ton of trees. CJAG, Wandsworth Soc, Tonsley Residents etc don’t actually represent the majority in this area who want development rather than suburban decay. Please respect what the quiet majority want and go live in say Cheltnam which looks something like I think you want Wandsworth to look?

    • I don’t think that CJAG, Wandsworth Soc, Tonsley Residents etc don’t actually represent the majority in this area. I think actually that they really do represent local residents and have thousands of members.
      It is absolutely not true that without the tower or this scheme, the site won’t be developed. How do you know? That’s exactly what the developers said about their 16 storey hotels refused for CJ, and the year after a 8 storey building was approved.
      I don’t dispute the fact that some people like/love towers. But we live in Wandsworth, why don’t they live in Croydon?

  11. Well neither your can prove what the majority want either way, I conceed. But vocal residents or those with time or energy get heard. Look at Battersea Power St which just rotted for decades. Somebody actually wants to do something with this site. I not mad for the tower to,be frankbutwithout it nothing gets built. I’d like something built in my lifetime. Plus a tube at Wandsworth Town, preferably on the site of that appalling roundabout. None,of this will happen without some initial development. WT is presently a backwater and you seem happy for it to stay that way?

    • The same as we cannot prove that people in the idea are not in majority communists because only 35% vote… we don’t know about the other 65%.
      It is just a democratic process: people who want to have a say, express themselves. The other who remain silent can’t blame the result.

      The fact is currently Nine Elms is being redeveloped, which was not the case 10 years ago. And the Battersea Power Station is part of it. The fact that it has been bought by Qatary investors, unlikely to go bankrupt as the previous owner, is a bit reassuring on the future.

      We all do the Ram Brewery site being redeveloped and we are also convinced that it will be developed sooner rather than later. The developer Minerva has got already consent to build part of it and they want to finish the site to get a ROI. No doubt that if this proposal fail there will be another one soon afte.
      We want to see the site redeveloped but not at any price, that’s all what we ask: sensible redevelopment should be considered, with the interest of local residents, not the interest of the cash made by the investors.

      • Re majorities I agree, apathy is punished and the vocal are heard. My experience with for example the Tonsley Residents however is that they are a small clique who knee jerk reject anything being built at all, especially if its tall. Nobody voted for them. They are self appointed spokesman for an area where many people don’t know if they exist. Whether that is true of the CJAG I don’t know? Did anybody vote for you?mwe have an elected council, assembly and government. Personally I am happy that the decision is in their hands rather than unelected self appointed representatives who clearly are not democrats.

        Battersea has been bought by Malaysian investors. Unlike the Qataris they actually need to make a profit. The Shard is losing money but the Qataris don’t care, it is simply a vanity project, albeit a rather fine one in my opinion, and yes it’s a tall building. It remains to be seen whether Battersea gets built but what is certain is it won’t without a massive government subsidy for the tube development. Only that way can the Malaysians be sure that they can turn a profit on what could be a huge upturn in property prices in that area. If that ripples out Minerva will be happy to sell and move on.

        Minerva very nearly went bust during the banking crisis. They have plenty of other projects and if they suffer further liquidity problems you can be sure they will sell the Brewery site and move on. This is perhaps what you want. So that any new buyer will develop ‘sensibly’ which really means a neo Georgian complex of dull housing that you happen to like.

        Personally I like their plans as they are. I like the potential influx of quality retailers and restaurateurs. I like the public space. And I like the huge transport subsidy for WT. judging by much of the comments above im not the only one.

        Alongside the revamped Southside and work along Garrett Lane this would be a great start for this area.

        I do bot mean to harass you on this four but please realise there are people in WT with this view. Please consider what would be acceptable to you. 20 storeys? 25? Minerva quite simply cannot develop this site without a tower and still turn a profit. If the council were for example to build a new park,on the site, fantastic. But at present Minerva seem to be the only show in town, they do after all own the site. We do have property rights in this country at least for now.

      • For CJAG the things are simple: back in 2008 a few people raised objection to the twin towers scheme, and they received the support of hundreds within only a few months. Since then CJAG has always been supported by hundred of local residents, as it was shown several time on reaction to planning proposals.

        In addition, unlike some other bodies (for instance some meeting given by the Council behind closed doors, or – I reckon – some local groups) we are transparent and communicate about all our actions and report on all meetings we took part in.

        For the Battersea Power Station, touché! My mistake in the comment (I see Qatar everywhere nowadays 😉 ) as it was reported here: https://cjag.org/2013/04/08/a-roller-coaster-for-battersea-power-station/
        You will notice that although REO wanted a huge tower back in 2008, there is no tower in the plan that is meant to be implemented.

        Regarding the need for profit, maybe Minerva bought the site too expensive… maybe it is the fault of the Council that made them believe that they could build whatever they want without any problem. If the Council had a proper policy, prices of the land would have been proportionate of the possibilities/potential of the site. It is not the resident to bear the consequence of some foolish decision.

        I have no problem actually with the fact that some people like the current plan. We still thin – here at CJAG but also with the Wandsworth Society and others – that people have not been properly informed and mislead with distorted images to hide the real impact.
        If you do like the plan, please say it, and you are always welcome here to comment with your arguments 🙂

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