Author: Cyril Richert
A new planning application (2016/7356) for the site of Homebase in Swandon Way (Wandsworth town) is being considered. It follows the decision at the end of March 2016 to defer the previous application (p.a. 2015/6608). While the Council’s officers recommended approval for the scheme including a 17 storey tower, it emerged that the developers wanted to review their proposals and consult further.
However on 27 July 2016, the Council decided to refuse planning permission by reason of the height, scale and massing of the station building and its relationship with its surrounding townscape (against the planning officer’s recommendation).
Apparently the 9 months used until the new submission this January produced little effect as the new proposal is more or less the same as previously. As I wrote at the time last year, “it would be wise to confine joy for the present“. With the main difference being the tower to be reduced from 17 to 15 storeys but two other buildings going up to 10 storeys and 22 additional residential units, the proposal is: “Demolition of existing retail warehouse building and erection of three buildings ranging from 7 to 15 storeys with basement to provide a mixed use scheme including 343 residential units, 597 sq.m. of retail units, 164 sq.m. of Community Use and 1647 sq.m. of studio/offices, with associated cycle parking spaces and 89 car parking spaces, playspace, landscaping and public realm improvements“.
Thus the height, massing, density, breach of Council’s policy, small amount of affordable housing and more important even, the cumulative effect that nobody amongst developers and Council officers want to consider, is still there!
The new proposal received more than 350 objections so far, including those from the Battersea Society, The Wandsworth Society, The Tonsley Resident Association and the Greater London Authority (GLA).
Although the GLA is broadly supporting the scheme in term of impact and considers that overall the proposal will deliver significant benefits with no significant harm (although “the revised proposal will still be clearly visible and will still be clearly visible and will provide a significant new element to the existing townscape“), they strongly challenge the case on affordable provision (the development proposes that 79 units will be delivered as an intermediate product, which equates to 25% affordable housing), saying: “The current offer is unacceptable” and they question the viability assessment.
The Battersea Society notes that the design as presented echoes that of the Embassy Garden buildings in Nine Elms Lane. However they say that “The height, scale and massing of the proposed buildings are an inappropriate form of development for the site“. They also criticise the inadequate level of affordable units, the proposal being dedicated to more fortunate buyers.
In addition, they note that the request was made for the planning permission to remain in force for 7 years instead of the usual 3 years period, which is showing the uncertainty of the developer’s plan, and the potential construction hell for the local residents to the site.
The Wandsworth Society, reiterating their previous objections (see our article HERE), said: “The location is totally inappropriate for a tower of 15 storeys, in breach of the SSAD guidelines and Local Plan Policies […] We can see no justification for the PAC to approve this slightly revised scheme. The substance of the scheme remains unchanged and the changes are minimal“.
The Tonsley Resident Association, which also presented a petition of 73 signatures, highlighted the falsehoods (or as we say nowadays “alternative facts”) presented by the developers, who claim that trains are not at capacity and 200 extra peak time journeys can be absorbed (you can download the TRA objection HERE, it makes interesting reading on the elements presented by developers to justify their case).
Once again, it seems that the local population is greatly at odd with the plans of officers and planning authorities for their living areas.
The Battersea Society wrote as a conclusion to its objection:
“It appears that neither Wandsworth Council nor TfL are prepared to consider the cumulative impact on public transport and road capacity of the developments already consented in the immediate area but rather assess each application here, in York Road, Lombard Road and Wandsworth Town in isolation, one from another. […]
The Battersea Society has in the past actively engaged with the consultation process but we begin to feel there is little point in doing so in the future, given that the Council, its officers and developers appear to see approved policies as merely hurdles to be negotiated or ignored.”
The Clapham Junction Action Group cannot say better and is fully supportive of this statement.