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 dated September 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 completed and the contractors are expected on site shortly.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.

Bendon Valley/Flip Out trampoline centre. Appl no 2018/4176.  This application was approved in June. The scheme was improved by the reduction in height of the buildings overlooking King George’s Park, the Society’s objection was noted in the officer’s report. The somewhat unusual aspect to this approval was that the Council’s advisers correctly pointed out that the proposed scheme would show only a marginal profit(2-3%) but that the site owners had declared that they would proceed regardless.

Jaggard Way 2018/5413 Appeal No APPH5960W203253063.  This appeal to the Planning Inspectorate follows the Council’s refusal of the application for outline consent. The Society objected to two applications on the site. The site is identified as an industrial site with no flexibility to include other uses such as residential which was proposed. The Society has continued to support the Council and submitted an additional statement to the Inspectorate to confirm our views.

Arding and Hobbs Clapham Junction.  Debenhams(Arding and Hobbs) announced the permanent closure of the store with effect from June. The Freehold owners have prepared plans for the redevelopment of the listed building which will hopefully bring back retail use to the whole of the ground and first floors, with office use for the remainder of the building. The Clapham Junction Action Group has produced very comprehensive review of the proposals which can be seen by link at the CJAG website.

Springfield Hospital site, Burntwood Lane.  Significant progress is underway at the site with the clinical facilities buildings up to almost roof level. Work is expected on the two residential elements to start in January 2021, with developers of the existing listed buildings expected to submit the detailed applications shortly, Barratt Developments will be proceeding with the new build with a target for release of the accommodation at the end of 2021. The Springfield community web site provides much additional information.

Hazel Court Haydon Way  Appl no 2020/2560.  This is a current application for the rebuilding of a former care home to the north of the St John’s Therapy Centre, St John’s Hill. The proposals are for the construction of a new co-living facility providing 159 units. Outside space is limited but has been reconsidered following comments from the Council’s Design Review Panel. The Society has submitted an objection which can be found on the Council web site.

86-88  Garratt Lane. Appl no 2017/0535 .  This was a long outstanding application to the rear of the Wandsworth Medical Centre on Garratt Lane.  The existing site is used as car parking beside the River Wandle. The proposal is for a 20 storey residential tower with ground floor café/other uses. A new public riverside walk will be provided to link to Mapleton Crescent. Cycle parking will be provided. Emergency vehicle access will be extremely tight. The scheme received many objections including the Society’s but the proposals were not called in by the Mayor and consent was granted in August 2020.               

Thames Tideway.  Tideway reported in early July that Charlotte(TBM) had reached Carnwath Road Riverside.  Work continues on both the King George’s Park site and Dormay Street.  A week later the last concrete ring was installed. Tideway has a most interesting web site: communityrelations@tideway-west.london which provides up to date information on the progress of the project.

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), with the affordable content rising from 131 to 161. There will be no basement parking as previously proposed with only 14 Blue Badge spaces for the residential space and 1 for the commercial space, which will be reduced from 2348m2 to 1572m2. The store is closed and demolition, site clearance and remedial work on this contaminated site underway.

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.

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. Neals Lodge Community Project have issues a very detailed Position Note with wih a vision for the future as a Community facility, retaining the cafe.

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 works required to listed Tombs and the general improvements needed to return to site to public use have been complted.

No 1 Armoury Way, the former Oddbins site; the site has been cleared we works have started behind a hoarding.

 

Coleman Court, Kimber Road/Burr Road Appl no 2020/0530 .  This is an application for the extension of residential accommodation at principally rooftop level, with additionally the demolition and rebuilding of the Cottage fronting Burr Road. We were invited to comment by an occupier who believes that the building will be disadvantaged if the application is approved. We considered the application after visiting the site and could find no real objection to the rooftop extension as the building was not listed nor in a Conservation Area but we did feel that the rebuilding of the cottage was not dealt with in an architecturally sympathetic way. We submitted an objection on this ground.

Wandle Delta and Town Centre Masterplans.  Following an initial presentation in the autumn of last year, the Council has made progress with the consultants appointed to identify opportunities in the Delta and Town centre areas.  Following a virtual Planning Forum meeting in July, it has been announced that a further online forum took place on the 26th August to review progress and invite further comments. The brief has been widened very recently by the Council circulating details of suggested proposals for part of the Town Hall area, with the car parking area proposed to become residential use. This will almost certainly mean buildings of significant height, despite adjoining the listed buildings of the Town Hall.

Planning for the Future, Government White Paper

Thoughts on the White Paper for Planning and the Economic implications.

Civic Voice has produced an extensive response to the Planning White Paper, much of which makes comments with which, I believe, the Society would endorse. The proposals in the White Paper attempt to simplify and clarify the planning system which was established in 1947. The existing system has been adapted to changed social, political and economic circumstances over the past 70+ years with mostly beneficial results. This has however resulted in what appears to be an over complicated process.

However what the new White Paper ignores is the economic effect of the changes proposed. The intention is to simplify by zoning each part of a Planning Authority’s area, to allow development to proceed “as of right” if the proposals meet the general criteria(which have yet to be set out) for the location. One size cannot fit all. Particularly in already urbanised situations where piecemeal redevelopment is, in practice, the only method available.

The present proposals in the White Paper also appear to wrest much of the locally democratic system of consultation away from local groups who can currently comment through the existing system at various stages of any consultation. Albeit, that much consultation is felt unheeded by both the developers and the planning authority.

The present proposals do not provide for any alignment of the different aspects of development or in London’s case the urban environment. Different Planning authorities are not required to consult and cooperate on such things as housing needs, transport, education, health provision and all others matters which jointly affect the area outside the planning authority’s specific jurisdiction. There is no provision for regional over sight.

There does not appear to be any recognition that economics play a big part in planning.

The country’s economic cycle has gone in waves since the turn of the 20th Century, with peaks to peaks through troughs closing from ten years to seven during the last twenty or so years. In 1973, the Yom Kippur war started an economic crisis which lasted for four years, things then improved through the late 70s with a boom in early 1980s. Technological change was speeding up worldwide providing more affluence, in parts of the world, England was no exception. The late 1980’s then provided the next boom, only to come crashing down in the early 1990’s. Remember negative equity? The cycle continues today, this is not to say that change in the system should not happen but it should make allowance for economic change.

Finally, one of the principal aims of the new Bill will be to make more availability of housing, but at what price. If the private sector is providing in excess of approximately 70% of new housing needs, this will only be done if schemes are economically viable. No starts will be made if schemes are not profitable. There are, I believe, approximately 1m consented units of accommodation throughout the country, why are these not being implemented? Uneconomic!!

Conclusions

*Increased consideration has also to be given to employment in areas of identified housing need, transport to work other than by private car has to be addressed and provided to enable climate change targets to be met.

*The availability and cost of labour, materials and to say the least finance from lenders all contribute to the uneasy relationship with planning.

*I do not believe that there is a simple solution but to attempt to change a system so radically as the present White Paper proposes will lead to a severe failure in the planning process.

*More centralisation without local participation, little consultation between all parties to the system, health, transport, education etc can only lead to confusion and deterioration in the planning system.

Philip Whyte 25/10/2020