28 storey tower recommended for approval, in total breach of planning documents

Author: Cyril Richert

28 storey tower proposed for Lombard Road, SW11Another very high tower has been recommended for approval in March (2014/6909), within the close vicinity of Clapham Junction. Just beside the Grade II listed Cremorne/Battersea railway bridge, Barratt London is going to build a 28-storey tower (12-14 Lombard Road, SW11).

As usual, Wandsworth planning documents have been ignored by the developers, and with reason, as the Council’s planning department itself chose to ignore them too.

The Site Specific Allocation Document (part of Wandsworth Borough Local Plan, reflecting the borough statutory policies and guidelines for planning development) has got a section dedicated to the site at 12-14 Lombard Road, SW11 (p174). It says:

Tall buildings: In accordance with Core Strategy Policy IS3d, tall buildings in this location are likely to be inappropriate. In accordance with DMPD Policy DMS4, the height at which a development in this location will be considered to be tall is 9 storeys.

As we said in our previous article:

“Therefore if more than 9 storey is considered to be inappropriate according to the Council’s planning documents, why are the developers proposing a 28 storey tower? Probably for the same reason a 26 storey tower is proposed for Garratt lane (by the Council itself): because nobody care about the rules, and the Council in charge of enacting them is even leading by example.”

The Council received more than 120 objections from local residents (3 support – someone saying only he’s “fully in favour of this unique and stylish landmark development” – and 4 comments), including:

  • London Heliport (insufficient assessment of the impact, no cumulative effect assessed, do not want a repeat of the Vauxhall fatality)
  • Wandsworth Conservation Area Advisory Committee (out of scale with its surroundings, intrusive in views, harm the character of the Battersea Square Conservation area)
  • Battersea Society (Contrary to planning policy, Detrimental impact on local heritage bridge and river frontage, Lack of public transport capacity, Affordable Housing, Public Realm treatment)

As usual, the officer’s report brushed out all objections, saying:

15.2 The proposed building at 28 storeys is far in excess of the 8 storey maximum height that the SSAD for this site suggests is appropriate for this site. (so 28 is in excess of 8 so it’s appropriate? No joke?) […] There are considered to be material considerations that allow this proposed height to be considered favourably, and to accord with DMPD policy DMS4 (of the approved and 2nd proposed submission versions). These include the exceptional quality of the proposed architecture […].

15.3 […] In accordance with paragraph 134, there are considered to be significant public benefits from the proposal that outweigh the less than substantial harm to the setting of the Battersea Square […]

We find here again the usual favourite catchwords used by Wandsworth Council to justify any breach of planning rules: “significant benefits that outweight the harm… “. See a similar example HERE.

The Council has changed its policy after the planning submission, in an attempt to justify the scheme and help the developers

In addition, Wandsworth Council recently added a proposal in revised documentation that a focal point in Lombard Road ‘be investigated’ (Core Strategy PL9, p.83, October 2014). However not only this is an obvious attempt to justify the scheme afterwards, but while the SSAD height guideline was not revised, the new planning documents are still under examination by a government inspector and final approval is not expected before the end of 2015.

As the Heliport threatened to challenge if approved, the Council decided to defer

During the Planning Application Committee on March 18th, consideration was given to the impact that the scheme would have on the operations of London Heliport. The Committee agreed that the application be deferred to secure more information and they asked that the applicant carry out an additional assessment on the potential impact of the proposal using data collected from wind tunnel modelling.

In the previous meeting, another tower of 14 storeys nearby (Gwynne Road) had been approved in February (Planning Application Committee approved by 8 votes to 1).

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