Author: Cyril Richert
This analysis intends to complement the very poor attention given to the site allocation sections in the draft local plan proposed by the Council. For a full information, read our presentation with the list of site allocations that we are describing.
CJ1 ASDA, LIDL and Boots sites, Falcon Lane, SW11
The site allocation is poorly detailed and we regret that no previous community engagement response was considered when redacting this section. As the Battersea Society noticed: “the new site allocation largely repeats the 2016 version” (not even considering the comments and criticisms made by societies and communities at that moment). Community Forum Lavender Hill For Me said the same: “the current allocation seems to have changed little in recent years and merits significantly more thought“.
Lavender Hill For Me wrote:
“This is probably the only major site allocation in Clapham Junction town centre that is near certain to see some redevelopment during the lifetime of this Local Plan – given that Boots’ lease expires and the site had been quietly marketed, Lidl is already exploring redevelopment options, and Asda has recently changed ownership to a more property-focussed business with substantial debt overheads to address.”
The lack of connection with the town centre is mentioned but no proposal is formally made to remedy. The document says there are elements which detract from the sense of place, “creating the need for a strategy which will conserve key characteristics which contribute to the sense of place, notably the historic, modestly scaled shop terraces, and landmark buildings” and we fail to understand how that translate into the vision for the site.
No consideration is given to the fact that the core area of Clapham Junction, including the station, is currently the heart of a conservation area.
Conservation area matters
Focusing on Clapham Junction area there is an absence of Map for Conservation area in the Local Plan. Therefore, we will refer to the current Map of Heritage Assets for comments.
The designation of the station area as “conservation area” raises many questions:
- Why are the new 8-storey Travelodge hotel and the new adjoining properties with the same owner (erected in 2013-2014) included into the conservation area? Local residents will still remember the 16-storey tower that was suggested (by the Council officers, according to the architect) in 2009 to replace a 4 storey-office building. Being in the conservation area did not prevent the Council to approve a scheme at odd with the scale of the neighbouring properties.
In addition, the map does not mention the house #22 Mossbury Road in the local assets list (the house is one of the oldest in Battersea, dating from the very first years of the nineteenth century and so about 200 years old). That house is mentioned in the tithe map of 1838. The OS map of 1896 shows the current layout of Mossbury road with most of the existing terrace houses allegedly built by developer Alfred Heaver. Therefore, it would make more sense to include the whole of Mossbury Road into the conservation area, rather than only the part that has actually been recently constructed with modern structures.
- We support keeping the whole of the train station within the conservation area. However, we wonder about the seriousness of the Council regarding the treatment of the conservation area in view of the past plans (residents will remember the 42-storey skyscraper plans) and the current discussions we have with Network Rail. According to historicengland.org.uk, “Conservation area provides a basis for planning policies whose objective is to conserve all aspects of character or appearance, including landscape and public spaces, that define an area’s special interest”. There is a lack of understanding how the Council can adhere with this definition and consider schemes aiming at changing drastically the layout of the area. This needs to be clarified.
Falcon Lane realignment and development
First of all, it must be considered that the rear gardens (between 1 and 2 meters deep) of Mossbury Road properties are so tiny that any development in front will strongly affect their privacy beyond dispute.
OAK Trading (which developed the Travelodge hotel at 155 Falcon Rd) objected in previous Planning consultation that any new residential development above ground floor level would surely need south facing windows which could harm the amenity of the houses in Mossbury Road (although there could be some mitigation by offering extension of existing properties by land purchase).
Any reasonable view will concede two realistic solutions:
- to offer extension of existing properties by land purchase,
- to redevelop the open area with public space/square, whish is in line with PM4, saying: “The development opportunities set out within this Area Strategy offer the prospect for inclusive public realm and open space provision to reinforce connectivity, support wellbeing and contribute to quality of life.”
Most of the area is occupied by Class E buildings. With the recent loss of Debenhams Asda and Lidl are now the most important employers at Clapham Junction. Any further loss of retail provision will be highly damageable for Clapham Junction.
It is suggested to safeguard the Class E provision on those sites. To go further, the lack of large premises available in the location has been an important element in the decision to pause Lidl development (see below).
As Lavender Hill For Me said:
“the recent precedent of the redevelopment of two large retail warehouses north of Wandsworth Town station does not augur well in this regard” and therefore they suggest that “the overall quantum of Class E / retail floorspace should be explicitly preserved within any new development, with reprovision of a significant number of mid-sized and larger units of type that remains important but which cannot be found elsewhere in the town centre.”
It must be noted that Lidl has tried to find a temporary site to continue operating while redeveloping the site and was unable to do it. As a consequence, Lidl has currently paused the project (the current planning permission p.a. 2017/2972 will run out in 2027).
One of the aims of the proposal was to bring a more active frontage on Falcon Road (similar to Sainsbury in Fulham, Townmead road), where one entrance will be located, and attract more people coming from the station. Active frontage facing Falcon Road should be encouraged on this site. Unfortunately there is currently a new project p.a. 2021/0859 that does no longer include the feature. More explanation why in our article, but nothing has been mentioned in the draft Local Plan.
Boots Clapham Junction occupies a 0.77 acre site situated on Falcon Lane situated a few metres to the east of Clapham Junction railway station. The Boots site is actually not extending to the railway due to the location of the rail exchange building. A development of a series of buildings up to 11 storeys was proposed in 2018, mostly seen as a valuation exercise and was considered as overdevelopment by the community, with great impact on the nearby properties.
The Asda cark park is a “town centre” car park where you can park for free for 2 hours (£10 for 24h). Therefore, any redevelopment removing this facility will create detrimental effect for the entire area of Clapham Junction and must be prevented.
A path exists for pedestrian to join Falcon Lane and Dorothy Road, through Asda car park, and must be preserved.
There is an opportunity to redevelop and optimise the use of the Asda site. Although taller buildings could be located toward the railway line, the site is surrounding by lower 2-3 storey Victorian terrace houses and therefore it prevents high rise closer to the neighbouring properties and directly facing Lavender Hill. It was properly considered in the SSAD 2009 which said:
Site Allocation (2009 version, p85): Tall buildings would be best located towards the railway frontage to reduce their impact on the residential area of Mossbury Road, and the conservation area.
The Asda site is sensitive and must be careful assessed in order to preserve the Clapham Junction area south of the railway, including the views with the iconic building of Arding & Hobbs. This is also commented by Lavender Hill For Me which said:
“Lavender Hill is the most visible part of the site and development there should be in broad proportion to the existing urban grain, and maintain active commercial frontages – to complement the predominantly Victorian and 1950s townscape around the site. […] A suitably attractive and proportioned appearance should also be delivered to avoid overshadowing of the Dorothy Road parklet.”
It should be noted that:
- Active frontage is encouraged on Falcon road.
- Due to the site being surrounded by lower 2-3 storey Victorian terrace houses, tall building should be refrained. However, carefully designed taller building could be appropriately placed along the railway, especially for Boots and Asda sites.
- Permeability is essential and it must be noted that access to Dorothy Road from Falcon Lane (through Asda car park currently) must be preserved.
- Any development should abide the minimum separation distances of 18-21 meters, as per the London Plan, and should consider a land offer for properties fronting Mossbury Road to prevent over-shadowing and privacy issues.
- The current Asda car park is used as a town centre car park. Therefore, it will act as a constraint that should be included in any proposal, to maintain this provision.
In addition, Lavender Hill For Me highlight the importance of the public square proposal in front of Asda/Lavender Hill side and “propose that the site allocation should go somewhat further and require that this should be retained and enhanced, with active uses around the new square“.