Ram Brewery: Our objection

Author: Cyril Richert

The Ram Brewery proposal: architect graph showing the massing of the schemeAlthough the official period of consultation ended on 18th March, late comments will still be valid and considered until the planning officer publishes its report, and even until the Planning Committee meets.

The Clapham Junction Action Group has sent an objection that you can download HERE.

In a nutshell, our letter made the following considerations:

In 2008 the Wandsworth Society fought against the joint plans of The Council and the developers Minerva during the inquiry into the Ram Brewery development.  The Secretary of State Eric Pickles acknowledged that the Society and all local residents and groups who objected were right to do so and followed the recommendation of the government inspector to refuse the scheme.

1. A skyscraper at the Ram Brewery site is unsound and detrimental to the area

All the criticisms in the inspector’s report are equally valid for this scheme:

  • Huge differences in character, size, mass, scale and appearance;
  • Little consideration given to the impact of the development on the existing small-scale buildings;
  • Clear harm to the character and heritage of the area;
  • Dramatic and negative changes to the character of the existing skyline by the new buildings, and particularly the proposed tower.   This will utterly dominate the scene, changing the local town’s character and undermining the quality of the surrounding area.

2. The proposal is in breach of the local policy

2.1. Once again, images provided by the developer ignore government criticisms and local guidelines

All the images re-used in brochures to illustrate the proposal to the public are in contradiction to the inspectors’ recommendation of NOT using wide angles that distort perspectives. They are in breach of The WBC Development Management Policies Document saying that visual assessments will be required to accurately represent what would be seen by the human eye and that the use of wide-angle lenses will not be acceptable (para 2.49 page 23).

2.2. The developers provide statements that contradict the policies

In policies (SSAD), the site is sensitive to tall buildings. We therefore have difficulty in understanding how the scheme can be acceptable, since most of the buildings are more than five storeys and in one case SEVEN times that height. How can this be acceptable?

Applications for tall buildings will be required to address a list of 15 criteria in order to demonstrate compliance with Core Strategy Policies IS3d and IS3e. In theory, each single building above the 5 storey limit set out in the SSAD should have to comply with ALL the criteria. We have gone through the list for the whole site, we find that not only does it fail on the main criteria… but also that most attempts to justify the massing and tall buildings of the development are flawed.

Approving a proposal that is so clearly failing the policy set out by Wandsworth Council would obviously make the value of the local Council’s policy process highly questionable.

In policies (DMS1) it is stated that the site should not harm the character of the surrounding area, taking into account local distinctiveness. Yet as we have shown, the proposal blatantly ignores this policy.

In policies (DMS2 – Managing the historic environment) it says that applications will be granted where they sustain, conserve and, where appropriate, enhance the significance, appearance, character and setting of the heritage asset itself, and the surrounding historic environment. Yet the developers find it acceptable to build a tower of 36 storeys that is 115m high, 100m by 33m wide and only 60 metre from Church Row and 100 metres from All Saints’ Church. Why?

For all these reasons, we consider that the Council has no choice but to refuse the planning application. Like most residents of Wandsworth, we would be happy for the Ram Brewery site to be regenerated, but not at any cost.

Additionally, we support the comments made by the Wandsworth Society in their letter dated 18th March 2013. You can read their objections HERE, and to quote them:

“We reiterate [that we support] the regeneration of the Ram Brewery site but not in the way proposed by the current developers who have disregarded planning policies. We have shown that there is another approach to a successful redevelopment of the site which would be much more respectful and sympathetic to the scale of the town centre, in line with policy.”

It is still time to send your message to Wandsworth Council. You can send a letter by post, write an email or even post directly online using the comment box on the Planning portal.

Ref: Planning Application 2012/5286 – Ram Brewery

Toby Feltham
The Planning Service
Wandsworth Council
The Town Hall
Wandsworth High Street
London SW18 2PU
planningapplications@wandsworth.gov.uk

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):

Ram2-drawing1

Ram2-drawing2

And if you want to know more about the proposal, you can read our other articles:

UPDATE 05/04/2013:

The Battersea Society has objected (you can download and read HERE) as well as the Putney Society (you can download and read HERE) and the Wandle Valley Forum(you can download and read HERE).

On the planning portal there is currently 179 objections (way above the hundred objections received for the previous application), 21 supports and 4 general comments.

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