Planning Forum meeting April 2013: some feedback

Authors: Jacqui Bowers & Cyril Richert

On Tuesday, April 16th, was organised the Planning Forum at Wandsworth Borough Town Hall. You will find below some comments and feedback. As usual, they do not intend to replace any minutes.

Pubs Protection Policy

The topic was added to the agenda by Dale Ingram, CAMRA‘s member, representing the local resident group which campaigned against the proposal to redevelop the site of the current Castle Pub in Battersea High Street.

After a 14 month campaign against the plan from developer to convert the Castle Pub, Wandsworth Council has agreed to register the Castle as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act. This is the first ACV registration in the borough. Last year the developers were forced to withdraw one planning application after 800 objections to their first plans were sent to Wandsworth Council by local residents. A second application was refused. The scheme proposed to replace the existing Castle which was built in 1965 for Young’s by specialist pub architects William Ingram Son & Archer, is for a replacement pub on the ground floor legally protected bya planning condition, with 9 flats above.

Wandsworth Borough Council (WBC) policy is that there is no need to protect/maintain pubs when already one other exist with 400m (considered as walking distance). The Castle Pub Campaign group said that central government is currently moving to protect pubs (making a difference within the A3/A4 categories). Someone said that it must depend on density instead.

Assistant director for planning, Ms Manshanda, explained that at the end of the day it was a question of economic viability. When there is a demand, a pub will stay. But Dale Ingram said this is not true as everyone knows that the issue is the cost of renting premises and the cost pubs are buying beers etc…

Councillor King (who was chairing the meeting in the absence of Cllr Cuff) questioned whether Wandsworth Council should be promoting alcoholic drinking in the light of recent surveys. The problem raised by CAMRA was cheap alcohol being sold as lost leaders in supermarkets.

Nick Evans from Friends of Putney Common (FoPC) asked if it was possible to have a list of the pubs that must be protected in the Borough and Ms Manshanda said that they can provide a list of A3/A4 premises (not very helpful, there are 1000s!)

Register of Community Assets

The Castle pub is the first (and only, currently) registration as as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act in WBC.

Regarding the Castle pub, Ms Manshanda confirmed that there are rumours that they don’t want to sell (therefore the astronomic price tag of £2.25m, having paid sellers Young’s Brewery just £1.1m in 2011). And in addition the developers have just appealed (a few days ago) against the decision to refuse them the 5 storey building.

Local Plan

The revised Local Plan was due to go before the Overview of strategic and Transportation committee on April 23rd.

After the adoption of the London plan, WBC is meant to review and amend its current local plan. Consultation period for residents is 17th May – 28th June. Any objection requires evidence based. Martin Howell and his team will be available from 17th May if Societies/large groups want to organise meetings for them to explain the changes.

On of the main change is on targets for affordable housing (targets set by London); but there was also the occasion to update the current documents with changes in the Borough (in term of new developments) that have happened since 2009.

There are track changes on the website: new parts are in red, removed parts are with strikes through.

New documents to be reviewed can be downloaded here (item 7. on the page).

Protected views in the borough

There will also be a consultation on local views (see our previous article in December 2012). The document has been re-drafted with a shorter list of views and more explanations have been added on what need to be protected in the pictures.

Neighbourhood Planning

It seems to really only apply to rural areas. Putney/Diador Road residents have looked at the requirements but came to the conclusion that it was not appropriate. Surrey Lane and Winstanley groups asked WBC to become a Neighbourhood forum. They were both refused as they did not meet the requirement: they first need to apply to be registered as a neighbourhood area before to apply for a forum (according to Martin Howell, the procedure is clearly described on the website).

Ms Manshanda confirmed her previous comments that in her view it benefits more to rural area than to urban area. A Neighbourhood Plan will have to show at least the same housing target as WBC,(i.e. 1145/year for the next 5 years) and those target are very high (set by London).

Major Infrastructure Schemes

Northern Line: the possibility to extend to CJ has been protected but there is no budget/consideration currently.

Changes in Planning Legislation – permitted development

Property extensions: WBC raised concerns and would have objected. But the House of Common voted against Opt Out possibilities yesterday (as reported by BBC said T Cronin) so not possible. The Secretary of States for Community, Mr Pickles, is going to try to find a compromise between Lord/Common houses.

A.O.B.

Ram Brewery (asked by someone from the WandSoc)

Ms Manshanda said they received a lot of representations from residents. She added that it looks unlikely to be presented before the Planning Application Committee before July 2013.

She made 2 noticeable comments:

1- The Design review panel has been consulted at the pre-application level and there is no plan to consult further. Facing the protest from Monica Tross (Battersea Society) she said that it will be up to Cllr Cuff to decide whether there is another review (Cllr King confirmed that it will be up to Cllr Cuff with the advice of the planners – who are against it apparently!).

2- Regarding the Wandsworth Conservation Area Advisory Committee (WCAAC) meeting, Ms Mashanda said the WCAAC had mixed views and a minority was in favour of the scheme! That’s seeing a very positive outcome of a meeting where only 3 out of 8 people talked in favour of the scheme, and that the vote decided that the WCAAC was going to object against the development!

State of consultation

Nick from FoPC complained about the poor condition in the Planning Application Committee room. Ms Manshanda said new microphones have been ordered.

Julia Macham said that the comments left using the facilities of the comment box on the website are very poor (all displayed on 1 line, no name on the list). Martin Howell said he will look at it and that should be corrected.

Are the letter sent to planning officers to be responded? Tim Cronin said that they always answer the first letter. When another response come saying they disagree, they have nothing to say more but that they disagree too so do not answer. Cllr King agreed that at least an acknowledgement should be sent.

Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

The question was: “Why minor domestic applications, for dormer windows for example, required to be accompanied by a CIL form which is not relevant to minor works such as extension dormers, etc?”

And the answer: Because otherwise an officer needs to check. It is time consuming for them, they have limited resources. If not necessary it is not forwarded to the CIL team. Cyril asked if a simple check box “not necessary” or such thing wouldn’t be more efficient for both parties. Answers was: well it’s not that hard to fill the form and save time for us as it is.

Are images using a wide angle camera acceptable?

Basically it gives a good idea of what will be the defence of the Council (we summarise the outcome of the decision, that was not discussed specifically in this order):

  1. When they receive an application they put everything on the website (i.e.e they accept all materials). Then they check and if they think some images are not correct they ask the developers to provide others.
  2. They used the images provided by the developers – whether correct or incorrect – in the planning publicity form, because they want the consultation to start asap and the public needs to have a view of what is proposed.
  3. In the policy they use the word can, which means that they consider that some wide lens view can be accurate to what a human eye will see, so therefore acceptable.
  4. For the Ram Brewery they received a set of verified views
  5. Ms Manshanda CERTIFIED that views for the RB have been verified and accurate to human eye.

CJAG has therefore written to Ms Manshanda asking confirmation of the policy and to arrange a meeting to be able to check the certified view as soon as possible (see the letter HERE).

Next meeting: 4th June 2013

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