When other countries are weighing urbanism rules over private interest

Author: Cyril Richert

Porte de Montreuil project – Credit in leJDD.fr: Lautreimage / Play-Time

London has rows of 4-storey Victorian houses, Paris has got 6-storey Haussmann buildings, both inherited from the 19th century. During the 20th century, the French city had a few attempt to build towers, with the – nearly unanimously disliked by Parisians – 210 m Montparnasse tower and a cluster of high rise buildings along the river in the west of Paris. In the meantime, the city of London developed high-rise in its centre, with Tower 42 acting as a landmark for the financial district amongst other taller buildings, later joined by the Gherkin.

However things started to diverge at the beginning of the 21st century. While Paris stayed mostly the same (and that is mostly due to the Montparnasse tower, as shortly after its construction was voted a law in 1977 to limit the size to 37 m [1] on all new buildings [2]), London initiated a more drastic change of its skyline when Ken Livingstone became Mayor of London in 2000. Continue reading

Planning Forum meeting 3rd July 2019

Author: Cyril Richert

New era or continuity for the Planning Forum? The future will decide but so far the most visible change was a new Chair, as Cllr Sweet as been replaced by Cllr Guy Humphries (due to the last cabinet reshuffle) and probably the most relevant change was actually the proposal to have Community Groups involved within the draft of the next Local Plan through workshop(s). Continue reading

What about an automatic planning report generator?

Author: Cyril Richert

Yes, as many of you spotted, yesterday’s publication was of course specific to April fool’s day (the clue was in the date!)

However, independently of Wandsworth Council, we have analysed dozen of planning reports on major schemes and found many similarities used to dismiss objections. Words such as “on balance“, “landmark“, “benefits outweigh harm” seem to have been used, without moderation, to justify any possible scheme. Continue reading

Wandsworth’s cash machine: the Council is collecting as much as all the adjoining boroughs together!

Author: Cyril Richert

With all the new developments in Clapham Junction, but also in other parts of the borough (Nine Elms of course) you may wonder if there is an incentive for the borough. No need to keep in suspense, the answer is yes. We have carried out a thorough comparison with neighbouring boroughs and Wandsworth is actually crushing the competition! Continue reading

Consultation on draft Local Plan: response from Societies and CJAG

Author: Cyril Richert

You’re joking. NOT ANOTHER ONE?! Oh for God’s sake, I can’t, honestly – I can’t stand this” could have been the response when Wandsworth Council asked again for Societies and Community groups to take part of one of their global planning consultations. However, only 1 month after the Consultation on community involvement submitted in January, we responded again.

The Council has consulted on its draft Local Plan issues for eight weeks starting at the beginning of December (ending February 6th 2019). As expressed by many other groups and Societies at the Planning Forum meeting on January 23rd, it was a very tight deadline for such consultation. However the Battersea Society and  the Putney Society managed to submit their contribution at the beginning of February, and CJAG submitted on February 15th.

Both CJAG and the Battersea Society said that it was particularly difficult to be requested to comment with only a digital copy of a complex 76-page document (click HERE to download), without receiving a hard copy that could be more easily flipped through and annotated before drafting a response. The Battersea Society said:

“The lack of hard copies for civic societies who now, and in the past, have spent a considerable amount of time providing input to Wandsworth Council on these and many other documents is an added minor irritant”

and CJAG wrote:

“It is obvious that this process, with the apparent aim of saving little money, is not encouraging a democratic consultation.”

The Local Plan submitted for consultation was made of 98 questions that the Council wished to receive input on. We are displaying some of the comments from the Community groups below, with a link to download the full response each time. Continue reading

Planning Forum meeting 23rd January 2019

Author: Cyril Richert

Planning Applications Committee – Room 123

This is now the third time that we experiment the new format of the Planning Forum meeting, since the changed decided by the Chair, Cllr Will Sweet (change in which CJAG was instrumental).

Instead of spending most of the time being updated on planning policies with little time for attendee’s questions, only 20 minutes was dedicated to officer’s topics with the rest of the 90 minutes dedicated to items raised (submitted in advance) by Forum members.

Continue reading

Consultation on community involvement: great principles but in practice no improvement

Author: Cyril Richert

Wandsworth Council has consulted on its draft Statement of Community Involvement (SCI), which is a document that describes how to get involved in planning decision-making process. The first Wandsworth SCI was adopted in 2007 and was last revised in 2012.

Comments were to be submitted before mid-December, and we have been a bit slow in producing a response. However, in view of our current efforts to get improvement in the planning process and our call for planning reform, we thought it was important to submit a detailed analysis of the draft paper.

You can read below the summary of our comment. To get more information, you can view/download the documents:

  1. Statement of Community Involvement 2018 draft for consultation
  2. CJAG Representation in response to consultation on the draft Statement of Community Involvement
  3. Clapham Junction Action Group: Draft Paper on Planning decision reforms

Continue reading