Planning

The Planning Group is led by Philip Whyte and includes Margaret Romanski, John Dawson, David Kirk, Peter Farrow and others.  The team review significant planning applications and consultations falling into our area of interest; where appropriate we comment in a formal way on behalf of the Society and draw attention to the membership of specific issues.

Reports on planning issues are included on a regular basis in our newsletters and these report any action that we have taken. We also highlight where there are consultations on major proposals which members may be interested in taking part.

If you have any comments on a development proposal or need help on a planning matter please contact Philip on the link below or another member of the Planning Group. We shall do our best to help.

To contact the group Click here

The following is a summary at April 2020 of current major planning activity in the area that we cover (although not an exhaustive list). The application numbers can be used to track progress on the Council’s website.

B&Q, Swandon Way. Applications 2019/4583 and 3848. These are applications to revise consents granted previously for the redevelopment of the site. Site clearance is completed and remediation work is close to completion June 2020). The promoters L&G (Legal and General) wish to reduce the amount of commercial space, increase the number of residential units and improve the public amenity areas with facilities including a swimming pool. It is unclear whether the pool will be for general public use or restricted to residents.

Riverside/Haldane Place (including the trampoline centre) off Garratt Lane. Appln no 2018/4176. Revised additional information has been added to the application web site. The Society has submitted revised comments which reflect the reduced height of the blocks overlooking King George’s Park and are pleased that the amount to commercial space has remained unchanged. Our concern is also that such a significant additional residential content in this location may be inappropriate from transport and other social points of view.

Homebase, Swandon Way. Appln no 2020/0011. A revised application has been submitted to vary the content of the approved scheme. The principal changes are to increase the density of the residential uses (from 385 units to 462), to reduce the commercial content, to omit the basement car parking areas and to improve the ground floor pedestrian circulation areas. The Society has submitted objections and comments, these will be found on the Council web site and this website (see Correspondence). The store closed for Coronavirus and o re-opened but is now posted for closure in July. r

Jaggard Way Application 2018/5413. Refused. At the December 2019 meeting of the PAC the members rejected the officer’s recommendations for the approval of the grant of outline consent. There was discussion between members confirming the points which objectors (including the Society) had put forward. The principal reason to be cited is the loss of daylight and sunlight to those houses in Ravenslea Road which back onto the site. An appeal was lodged in May 2020 against refusal of outline planning permission.

Ferrier Street Application 2018/5699. Approved. At the same December 2019 meeting the PAC supported the officer’s recommendations for the approval of this mixed-use scheme, commercial and residential which reflects the change in this area. The only matter which the Society felt was inappropriate was the height of a tower block close to the piazza at the entrance to Wandsworth Town station, which at nine floors will be significantly higher than the surrounding buildings and the proximity to the newly confirmed Conservation Area.

Local Plan Review. A workshop organised by the Council was held at the Battersea Town Hall (Arts Centre) on 17 January (attended by the writer) when topics such as housing needs; economic, social and environmental priorities, employment needs, climate change, and the design of buildings and open space were considered.

Springfield University Hospital NHS Trust. Announced in December 2019 that confirmation of funding of approximately £150m has been received from central government for the construction of works required for the new clinical facilities on site. This follows works of site preparation by a consortium led by a McAlpine company. Contracts have also been completed with Barratt London for the first phase of the housing on the northern part of the site (backing onto College Gardens) and with City and Country for the refurbishment of the historic listed buildings. Progress for the formation of the new park on the southern part of the site proceeds, as soil from other areas of the site are re-used, we are told that no soil will be exported from site. The Society has a member who attends community liaison meetings, the last held in January 2020. We are very pleased that the redevelopment has at long last been given the “green light” (and the money!) as the Society has long supported the Trust’s endeavours for this site.

Thames Tideway Tunnel. Charlotte (the TBM) has now been re-sited to Dormay Street to continue the journey across (under) the River Thames to Carnworth Road. The Tideway web site covers the progress of the project.

Air Quality. The group has a member on the Wandsworth Environmental Forum which meets regularly to discuss matters and consider progress. The Council is shortly to implement a scheme, restricted to five schools, to introduce traffic controls close to those schools in the Borough to encourage journeys by foot, bicycle or other non-motorised transport .

Wandsworth Gyratory scheme. Unfortunately, we are unable to report any progress on the proposals.

Neal’s Lodge. No further progress.

Design Review Panel. The Society was represented on the panel in February 2020 to consider those projects submitted for consideration in the several categories selected. This task reflects the diversity of the Borough’s makeup. Everything from Battersea Power Station, to a simple rear extension to a house in one of the Borough’s streets were under scrutiny. The results will be announced by the Council in due course.

Trinity Road/Burntwood Lane, intersection. No progress to report.

Mount Nod (The Huguenot Burial Ground, East Hill). The Society has a representative on the group considering future accessibility, signage and general control following completion of works required to listed Tombs and the general improvements needed to return to site to public use.

No 1 Armoury Way, the former Oddbins site; the site has been cleared we understand work will start imminently.

 Hazel House, Hayden Way (off St John’s Hill)  Revised proposals for the redevelopment of an unused former care home, to provide a “co-living” space residential building. The proposals provide for approximately 160 ‘bedsit’ type accommodation with shared amenities for leisure, laundry, cooking. An application is likely in July for a 5 to 6 storey building. Consultation currently underway; we have responded to the initial consultation. For further details see the developer’s website https://hazelhousesw11.co.uk

Coleman Court, Kimber Road, an application to provide new residential units at roof level (fifth floor) and new building in grounds. Consultation underway.

THE WANDLE DELTA MASTERPLAN

Update from Bruce St Julian Bown (June 2020)

Along with a couple of Society Planning Group professionals I attended one of the initial consultation events at the town hall, on the (latest) Wandle Delta Master Plan. Whilst any sort of consultation is welcome, this, even as an initial scoping exercise, fell rather flat. Society members and many local people have over the years spent months contributing and responding to various Delta ‘Strategy’ proposals. The event, even with the excellent information boards hung on a cloakroom rail, was more of ‘a chat in the lobby’ than the first round qualitative signposting exercise it could have been. Those members who attended all left feeling distinctly underwhelmed and I suspect the few curious passers-by who dropped in left not a lot wiser. I hope the other parallel consultation session in the town centre gave a little more of a steer, but I doubt it.

There must be a better way to undertake this type of task that would provide a more solid basis for framing the main consultation like for example a meeting limited to community groups and a separate general public consultation. This would be far more constructive with ideas exchanged by those with some knowledge and objective opinions and separate sounding of general public response? I appreciate the Society already has small scale or one-to-one informal chats which can be useful and save everyone’s time down the line.

What is critical is the ability of respondents to grasp the context and apply their existing or prompted thoughts to it. We should remain committed to working with WBC Planners and contribute to what might finally be a plan that will endow Wandsworth’s with its long sought-after positive identity and sense of place as a waterfront town centre. The current initiative is probably the last opportunity to develop a coherent plan for the Delta, and enhance and extend our town centre’s public realm towards the substantial river frontages before the handful of remaining sites are developed piecemeal.

We look forward to the next round of constructive consultation and would be happy to contribute to its planning. Steps towards a waterfront town The vision was first incorporated in to the WTCP Wandsworth Town Centre Partnership. One of its simply stated aims was to encourage the town centre’s organic growth along the Wandle towards the Thames. (How do I know this – as the Society’s rep, on the WTCP I designed its logo to symbolise it and wrote their Business Plan which included this as a key feature.)

The Ram Brewery:

Following several large-scale developments proposed for the site the Society’s last campaign helped save the Brewery development from becoming an over-dense banality. In spite of the still to be built ugliestfattened-up-triangular-40+floor tower block in London, on the west side of the site, which has so far failed to rear its head, and other less sinful east bank shortcomings, it provides a townscape that acknowledges the Wandle and its Trail, whilst creating substantial permeable, piazza style open spaces which will eventually (we hope) attract the restaurants and cafes that will in turn attract people seeking refreshment in a pleasant waterfront environment, accessible to the community for the first time in centuries. Equally important the Ram site is the springboard to Feathers Wharf.

Feathers Wharf is on the east bank of the Wandle mouth. It suffers from the ‘how long blues’ in that its history of planned and aborted development has been going longer than the Ram site. Once even briefly offered to the Society as an open space, it remains locked in a planning impasse that is actually solvable in terms gaining waterfront access!

Briefly, the Wandle Trail runs 230 metres along the east bank to the Thames, facing the wildlife tranquillity zone. It is reserved and fenced off. The Thames Path itself is routed through the adjacent WRWA transfer station via two spiral stair towers connected by a gantry. This wonderful fantasy was actually constructed and immediately closed to the public on security grounds. Funding to re-open access (over £1m) was earmarked as part of the rationalisation of waste transfer facilities with Nine Elms. This is currently in limbo and has been for years. The vast majority of the sum was for the WRWA gantry refurbishment, a far more modest sum was required to pave and fence the Wandle Trail. The Trail may well need only a fraction of this to open but the Council is concerned about security as it is a ‘no-escape cul-de-sac’. The solution is that now the Riverside Quarter site is open and residents are moving in, there must be at least 50 apartments overlooking the path. In addition, with the inevitable security cameras and WRWA staff could use it for office access, the security issue is diminished and the path could be opened without further prevarication.

The Riverside Quarter

The last phase (see photos). Overlooking the east bank trail would be the only saving grace for the 14-floor tower block at the Wandle mouth that was added by subsequent planning permission on grounds of err…hardship? It started as a more acceptable 7-floor curved block running along the west bank to the Wandle mouth. It soon grew to 9-floor then 11-floor and then – you have to admire the gall – had a tower block added on top, right on the river mouth – one more floor and Heathrow would only be able to use their north runway! Nevertheless, Riverside Quarter does give a worthwhile open space and riverside promenade from Point Pleasant to the ‘Delta’. But the new tower block will keep the wildlife zone in the shade much of the day. There is a raised walkway to view wildlife but vegetation effectively screens it out at present.

The rest of the landscaping and massing is not unpleasant and the waterfront walking possibilities a huge step forward in public domain. There’s always a remaining ‘but’ and that is dependent on some ground level cafes and restaurants as shown on the site sales promotional poster – it would be serious negligence to deny the community these facilities by the waterfront. Much of that ground floor is taken by a residents’ private swimming pool, the second on this development. If it is to be part of the town centre it needs to motivate pedestrian traffic to more than just a walk through (ref Kingston).

The Remaining Potential of the Wandsworth Riverside

If the remaining potential development sites are purely limited to bland residential buildings then the aspiration of an expanded town centre towards the river remains elusive. It will simply be a suburb, possibly a pleasant one, but still a suburb of the town centre. Sensitive planning of the remaining Delta sites, and access routes is essential before this rare opportunity is closed to us long term. So now is the time for Society members and passionate residents who value the Wandle and a vibrant expanded town centre, to articulate their ideas and perspectives through the imminent consultation.

It would be a revelation if the submissions of developers for the remaining sites followed an agreed masterplan that gave more priority to the public realm and were tested to a far greater degree for economic robustness to avoid the pleas by developers for subsequent increases in density to keep the Rolls and chopper for commuting to the office.

The council and TfL must also play their part in this not just to ensure a worthy final phase for the evolution of Wandsworth town but ensure the transport and traffic allow optimum circulation and maximum access, whilst adding pedestrian and cycling space. Heritage, public art and farmers’ markets are also essential ingredients in attracting visitors and must therefore be allowed to play their full parts too.

There are recent examples of design banality and excess density in the town centre but there have also been substantial townscape and public realm improvements, some quite good. ‘Quite good’ is perhaps not good enough. Let’s not be complacent we want the absolute best for Wandsworth Delta’s waterfront to the north and, linked by the Wandle Trail, an enhanced King George’s Park to the south – but that’s another story.