Thursday, 30 April 2009

81 Black Prince road appeal

I mentioned the attempt by a developer to gain planning permission to place a very tall building (23 storeys) in SE1 on the site of 81 Black Prince Road here back in January this year (2009). Interested parties can look up reference 08/04454/FUL on the Lambeth planning database. It is of interest to lurkers about SE11 as it is very close to the postcode boundary, and most Kennington (and some Vauxhall) residents will over look it.

At one point, I thought I might have a vested interest in seeing this application fail, but that is no longer the case. I do, however, continue to object on the basis that the building will not enhance the local area, and will set a precedent for building higher on the Albert Embankment. (You can see from the image below that Salamanca Tower is quite high enough). The building would dominate the landscape, looking from South London towards North London, and it would begin to close off the river for everybody that lives south of the Albert Embankment. It has been argued that there are taller developments in Vauxhall, but I think they're significantly far away that they should not count as a precedent for the 81 Black Prince Road site.

I failed to mention that the first attempt at planning permission was denied on 11/2/2009. The minutes to the planning meeting can be found here.

If you consult the minutes, you'll see that it was a close call. The permission was only, eventually, rejected on grounds of:

1. The harm that would be caused to the setting of the World Heritage Site,
2. Impact on the setting of listed buildings and adjoining conservation areas;
3. Poor quantity and quality of the proposed amenity space.
4. Overbearing impact of the proposed development and the creation of a sense of enclosure.

Unfortunately, the developers are appealing the decision made not to grant permission.

An appeal was lodged on 6/4/2009 and can also be found in the Lambeth Planning Database under reference 09/00048/FULREF.

Unfortunately, the appeal papers don't appear to have been uploaded to the database in this instance, so I've written to the Town Planning Advice Centre to request them.

I've been informed that any submissions from the public (which I believe have to refer to the conditions for refusal) (items 1 to 4) have to be submitted by 18/5/2009.

Submissions have to be sent to the Planning Appeals inspectorate in Bristol in triplicate to the following address:

The Planning Inspectorate, PO Box 326, Bristol, BS99 7XF.

Also, they have an online appeal process that can be accessed here.


I found an image from skyscrapercity.com alt="81 Black Prince Road outline"which I've pasted below, so that you can get a view of scale and some idea about how the external structure would look:

Oluwaseyi Ogunyemi (Seyi) named as victim in Larkhall Park murders

The BBC report that the Larkhall Park murder victim has been named as Oluwaseyi Ogunyemi (known as Seyi). Stockwell news is providing timely updates, so I'd recommend checking there first for more information.

My thoughts and prayers go to Seyi's family and friends.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Bakerloo line extension to Camberwell

Further to my post yesterday about the possible death of Crossrail, the Camberwell Online Blog has Tweeted about an article in Transport Briefing which once again raises the possibility of extending the Bakerloo line to Camberwell (a no brainer, since the station in Camberwell already exists) and also to Lewisham (which would be very exciting). Also, it mentions the idea of extending the DLR from Lewisham to Hayes. That's a new one to me, but would also be a great development.

Just one question... From whence cometh the money?

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

John Roberts - Lib Dem candidate

I've just heard that a man named John Roberts is the Lib Dem candidate for Princes Ward.

I can't seem to find much online presence for him (same with Michael Poole-Wilson), but it appears that he was/is a director of Vauxhall City Farm according to the RCDT website here. Also on the RCDT site, somebody called John Roberts (am assuming the same one) won a Lambeth Civic Award for promoting equality in Lambeth, for work related to the police.

The battle will presumably hot up from here on in, but you'll hear the news from Lurking about SE11 first... :)

I still want to know if there are any other candidates from green or independent parties standing. Please drop me a comment/email if you know anything.

Cross River Tram is dead. Crossrail might die. Long live the tube?

I made reference, yesterday, to the fact that Lambeth Council had mentioned the Cross River Tram in their Local Development Framework. I think, perhaps, that they forgot to remove it from the document because I doubt (sadly) that the scheme will ever come to fruition.

Today though, I spotted a rather interesting article article in the Evening Standard. The writer, Simon Jenkins, suggests that Boris should kill off Crossrail. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the "limited pot" (now "empty pot") of public money, one always knows that some Londoners will benefit through certain initiatives whilst others won't benefit at all (or will even become worse off). The Crossrail project is one example of a piece of transport that doesn't benefit South London at all. Due to my love of all things public transport, I'm not in a position to oppose it, but Simon's article has made me wonder... Apparently, TfL are close to bankruptcy, and unlikely to stump up their share of cash for Crossrail. If Boris were to eradicate the Crossrail project to plug the hole in his transport budget, Simon wonders whether he'd choose to plough that money into the tube.

The spare money in the pot from ditching Crossrail would be £5.6 billion.

And it was only the other day, (reported in Southwark News here) in early March at the London Assembly that Boris suggested "the potential of extending the Bakerloo Line for instance... is something we should drag onto the agenda". Do we think that any of the spare £5.6 billion could be channelled towards improving the tube connections in South London? It would be great to connect Camberwell, Peckham, Lewisham, Croydon and Brixton. How much does it cost to add tube stations and extend the lines? It certainly wouldn't cost that much to re-open Camberwell tube since the infrastructure is in already.

That would be a project which would mean South Londoners could stop asking "What has Boris ever done for us?"

Stockwell stabbing incident in Larkhall Park SW8

There was considerable helicopter noise around Stockwell last night, which is explained by the reports that two men were stabbed in Larkhall Park. A teenage boy has died. One other male is injured.

The police/media don't seem to have reported many details yet. Stockwell news quotes The Evening Standard, which suggests that the stabbings were part of local gang violence. The BBC have a report which offers little extra detail, along with a video of the taped off area that must have been shot last night. The Press Association say that four men are being held in connection with the stabbing.

The stabbing is some way outside the SE11 patch in SW8, but I've had various google queries here this morning from people looking for information.

Monday, 27 April 2009

More on wormeries and compost and going green in Lambeth

Just a quick note to say that my assistant did eventually receive a response (see Recycling and going Green in Lambeth) from Susan Sheehan (Lambeth Council's new Green Community Champion Co-ordinator) which contains several points of interest to those people who have been googling for compost / wormeries in the borough of Lambeth:

1. The compst bin subsidies will be coming to an end shortly because they were sponsored by DEFRA, who will no longer be subsidising them. Susan recommended that people purchase the remaining stock before the subsidy ceases. However, Lambeth Council are looking into the question of ongoing subsidies, so I'll mention it if anybody comes up with a radically exciting plan.

2. Susan did not agree that the plastic composting tubs are less effective than the wooden ones and has no issue with the plastic ones that turn. Personally, I think I've cracked the problem with a wormery, rather than a compost heap so there's not much point in pursuing the matter.

3. I'm still rather unclear on the "Green Champions" position, and exactly who our green champions are, and the email didn't elaborate. However, Susan has agreed to attend some local community meetings (see the previous post for her contact details) to give anybody who wants it, some more information about the initiative.

Apparently, the general idea is that there are certain projects that we might like to see immitated around the Borough. These are:

1. http://www.hydefarm.org.uk/ - Hyde Farm Climate Action Network (in Balham)
2. Albert Square and St Stephen's Association Climate Action Network - brief post here for this group in Stockwell
3. Transition Town Brixton - This seems to be a loose network of people committed to raising awareness of climate change and oil shortage. They're trying to rethink the way an area works in terms of food, health, work etc. They seem to focusing at the moment on growing food within London, with an event on 30th April, which I sadly can't attend.

I'm quite excited by the idea of growing food in London. So far this year (with zero gardening experience and from the balcony of a flat), the threewheeled household are already growing lettuce leaves, strawberries, purple sprouting broccoli, onions, three different types of potato and hopefully, eventually, some tomatoes). The wormery is now in place, and will become a shared wormery once the worms have multiplied and when we think it's working.

I'd be interested to hear more from readers who have been involved in Transition Town Brixton or various other local climate/environment focused groups. Is there any reason that we couldn't be a Transition Town Kennington or Transitition Town Vauxhall? What about a whole Transition postcode? SE11 contains such a variety of people and skills and culture and opportunities that I'm sure it might be possible.

Local Development Framework - Draft Core Strategy [Section 8]

About two weeks ago, I started to summarise Lambeth council's draft "Core Strategy", sections 1 & 2, and then 5, 6 & 7. Today I'm posting the final installment (section 8) . (The other sections are either references or dull/repetitive).

The core document is the most important document contained in the "Local Development Framework". The entire document is 116 pages long. These three posts are a cut-down version, mostly just summarising what was written. I've not changed their wording much, but have shortened and simplified because it contains some interesting ideas for the Borough.

I've used the Lambeth Council document headings where possible, but have not summarised every section as it's a highly repetitive document. The terms in purple are the "key" definitions.

The insightful comments in red are my comments. Due to length of the document, I've split my summaries into separate blog posts.

SE11 readers might like to focus on the "Vauxhall" and "Oval" elements of Section 8 in this post because they are the most pertinent to the area. However, anybody seriously interested in the plans for Vauxhall should dig out the Vauxhall area Draft Supplementary Planning Document:

Section 8 – Policies for Places and Neighbourhoods

The document breaks the Borough into nine different parts, and whilst not intended to cover every part (p58), do attempt to reflect aspirations. [I think these are the most interesting parts… One gets a better picture of what might happen when the Borough is broken down into small sections.]

Waterloo (p59):

The London Plan identifies the potential for 15k new jobs in the area. There is an existing population of 5k people, with potential for additional 1500 dwellings by 2016. The heart of Waterloo is dominated by railway infrastructure and the IMAX roundabout/viaduct and Road constitute a confusing, traffic dominated environment, but there are opportunities for improvement, including Waterloo City Square project, which aims to retain provision for buses (and potentially any Cross-River tram proposal) [they are joking, I presume! It is interesting that the Lambeth LDF continues to mention the tram. I’m not sure if they forgot to take it out, or whether this is deliberate.] There are other initiatives – TFL’s “Legible London” related to pedestrians, and South Bank Centre’s plan re. pedestrian movement.

Waterloo Station (p60) may present a major development opportunity arising from need to remodel facilities to increase capacity.

There are two large hotels in the area, and permission has been granted for 3 more. There are significant health and education uses too. King’s College has plans to expand its presence at Waterloo.

Policy for Waterloo (p61):

Waterloo will be developed by supporting sustainable development for jobs and homes. Waterloo station and immediately adjoining areas has been identified as providing potential for loose cluster of tall buildings. Arts and cultural expansion will be supported. Transport capacity at Waterloo Station and better linkage to Lower Marsh could prove possible. Use of Hungerford car park as extension to Jubilee Gardens will be promoted.

Vauxhall (p63):

Vauxhall part of London Plan priority Areas for Regeneration, which includes Vauxhall/Nine Elms/Battersea. The vision is a place of growth with a heart that will be a good environment for pedestrians and cyclists. Vauxhall is known for its gay community, Portugese community and night life. Vauxhall City Farm is important. The bus station, MI6 and St George’s Wharf are now local landmarks. A series of sites, adjoining Nine Elms and Battersea present opportunities, but public transport capacity is limited and planned upgrades to Vauxhall underground will be absorbed by current demand.

Policy for Vauxhall (p64):

The Council will support mixed use development at Vauxhall (housing, retail, leisure, commercial etc.) and development can provide at least 3500 new homes and 8000 new jobs by 2026. The borough will support the development of an accessible pedestrian and cycling environment with public art and linkages to the River. There will be a seeking of improvements to public transport and highway, particularly seeking the removal of the one way traffic system. [Did I read that correctly? What on earth do they want to do to the main road? I thought the one way traffic system was comparatively new! This development needs to be carefully observed.] Along the river, Lambeth are anxious to avoid creating a wall effect, blocking out the Thames and want sufficient gaps between buildings. Spring Gardens and Pedler’s Park are to be improved to create high quality public green space.

Brixton (p67):

Brixton is a major town centre, famous for markets and significance to London’s African and Caribbean communities. Much of it is in a conservation area and its character is creative and diverse. It has a large leisure centre which is a community focus, but also has the highest levels of deprivation in the Borough. Brixton is part of the London Plan priority Areas for regeneration. Brixton has a high number of retail units, many of which cater for specialist African and Caribbean goods. Vacant units in 2008 was around 11%, comparable to the national average. Due to development at Battersea and Elephant, Brixton requires a strategy to survive. Commuters must be encouraged to spend when passing through.

Brixton underground is undergoing work to increase capacity by 14% and will benefit by the phase 2 extension of the East London line. A new public space will be created at Brixton Central Square by amalgamating Tate Gardens and Windrush Square. The new Evelyn Grace Academy will move to permanent place on Shakespeare Road in 2010, providing 1100 secondary school places, and a Play Park will be developed at Max Roach Park.

Brixton’s strengths are its independent shops, markets and creative businesses and key objectives for regeneration in Brixton are the reinvigoration of the town centre as a shopping destination, growth as a centre for creative/cultural industries and promotion of self-sustaining communities.

Policy for Brixton (p69):

Brixton market will be supported through physical and other improvements and arts, creative and cultural industries will be expanded. The town’s popularity for leisure and nightlife will be expanded, and provision for a theatre will be supported. A new Exchange Square will be supported, linked to a new station entrance, revitalised railway arches and retail/residential development on the Popes Road car park. High Street re-invigoration can be supported. Acre Lane will have employment opportunities protected. Train station could receive improved access and public realm should be improved.

Streatham (p71):

Streatham is one of Lambeth’s major town centres (as well as Brixton) and the High Road is a defining feature, being one of the longest high roads in Europe. Although it’s a conservation area, it has fallen from its hey-day as one of the busiest shopping areas in south London. There are 461 units on the street in 2008 and demand is high, with only 8% vacancy. Large retailers have been deterred due to small unit size, and there is no “anchor” store. There are many Somali owned businesses, reflecting the local population. Streatham has had fastest growing population of any part of Lambeth and has become more diverse with large Somali community and Polish community. The “Streatham Hub” comprising the Ice Rink and Swimming pool is the largest development opportunity in Streatham and new planning permission was granted in 2007 for a redeveloped complex, 250 homes, a Tesco and new bus interchange. This redevelopment has been complicated. The former Caesars nightclub and Streatham Megabowl also offer opportunities to revitalise the area. Streatham Library could be developed. TFL has invested in two stations and is improving the High Road itself. Secondary schools are oversubscribed. Streatham Common will receive improvements to help it gain Green Flag status.

Policy for Streatham (p73)

Streatham’s role as a major town centre will be supported and enhanced to re-establish its place as a destination for retail, leisure, hotels and commerce. Streatham Hill will have its “gateway” role improved so that it’s an attractive destination, with some taller landmarks around the station to provide a focal point and refurbishment to the station itself. There will be support for creation of additional retail, leisure and commercial space.

There will be focus on provision of retail, cultural and outdoor space (possibly for a market) in Streatham Central. Streatham Village will become the heart of Streatham and focus for the community by creating new public spaces and improving connectivity. Streatham Hub (the southern gateway) will provide attractions for the wider catchment area and development of a site for a large food superstore, as well as leisure facilities, town centre parking etc.

Clapham (p75)

The town centre is well served by food and convenience shops. The district had 232 retail/service units in 2008, with vacancy rate at 9%. There’s a low level of non food shopping, as needs are met elsewhere. There’s a desire for a weekly street market. Leisure and hospitality play an important role in supporting jobs and businesses and the night-time economy is on Clapham High Street. The level of anti social behaviour as a result impacts on residential areas and expansion should be limited. The popularity of the tube in Clapham massively strains its capacity, and the northern line between Clapham Common and Stockwell is seriously overcrowded. Clapham Common is a prime open space in south London and with the High Street, lies within a Conservation area. It’s extremely popular for leisure activities and hosts festivals for thousands of people.

Clapham High Street will received a new library, council Customer Service Centre, Health, café, performance space and residential units in Mary Seacole House. A replacement leisure centre will be developed on Clapham Manor Street, along with residential units. Old Clapham Library will be retained for housing, and artists’ space.

Policy for Clapham (p76)

Council seeks to reinforce distinctive character of the Old Town, its historic heritage, Clapham Common etc and provide leisure community uses through redevelopment of Mary Seacole House, redevelopment of Clapham Leisure site and retention of Clapham Library as well as enhancements to the town centre to improve environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

Stockwell (p78)

Stockwell is a small district centre and occupied by high proportion of convenience ships compared with restaurants, cafes etc. There was only 3% retail vacancy in Stockwell (11% nationally). There are many Portuguese businesses. Transport is good with tube station at heart and bus routes. The neighbourhood is residential with high proportion social housing and small number of conservation areas. Stockwell High School (secondary school with 1300 pupils) is being redeveloped. Over 65% of residents have lived in area for over 8 years (that must be very high for London!). Area has vast diversity of cultural backgrounds. Years ago, Stockwell had numerous civic institutions, but these have mostly gone. There are smaller community facilities, including Springfield Centre. Most residents travel out of area for employment.

Stockwell is part of London Plan priority Areas for Regeneration. A master plan was commissioned in 2008 to build on earlier plan in 2001. [Again, this might be problematic… If a town centre as large as Elephant can be stopped in its tracks, it doesn’t bode well for Stockwell redevelopment]. There are certain priorities, trying to change “inward looking” “island estates”, introducing more retail frontages, using open spaces, and addressing the issue of being segregated by busy roads which is a problem for pedestrians. Lambeth PCT want a resource centre in Stockwell and lack of local shops will be addressed.

Stockwell policy (p79)

The council will support Stockwell as a district centre by encouraging retail, commercial and civic uses and improving traffic for pedestrians as well as improving housing estates and connection between them.

Oval (p80)

Oval is a local centre at junction of major roads with tube station in the middle. It has a clear and distinctive sense of place due to the presence of St Mark’s Church. Kennington Park and the Oval cricket ground are nearby. [I actually disagree with this. I think “Oval” is very poorly defined locally. Vauxhall and Kennington have relatively clear boundaries, but Oval is in between Kennington, Camberwell, Brixton, Stockwell and Vauxhall, leaving a rather small residential area that might be termed “Oval”. Many locals would say they live in “Camberwell”, “Kennington” or “Stockwell”. Indeed, the correct name of the cricket ground is “the Kennington Oval.] Pavements are wide, but roads are busy. Diverse buildings, with Victorian terraces and public housing predominating.

Retail vacancy rate was 11% in 2008, matching the national average. Resident population is younger than borough and London averages. Car ownership is low. Accommodation in area is flats, and home ownership is considerably lower than overall borough.

The major issues for the area are: how to derive more benefit from Oval cricket ground, improve quality of environment for residents and visitors around the Oval cricket ground, realise the potential of St Mark’s church yard. [This has essentially been partly addressed through the introduction of Oval market]. Also, there is a need to support improvements to Kennington Park, including heritage aspects [Interesting phrase. I wonder which particular heritage aspects they want to look at. I wonder whether the Friends of Kennington Park know this.]. Also, examine opportunities, including Oval House Theatre’s relocation to Brixton [Eek!! I didn’t know that. Why do they want to move?] There are other sites for development eg. Offley Works, 43-55 Clapham Road, 137-143 Clapham Road and St Agnes Place [again, this is all likely to be delayed due to credit crunch, but I will be keeping a close eye on Offley Works and St Agnes Place, both being SE11].

Oval policy (p81)

The council will support development at Oval stadium to extend range of facilities for local community [this probably refers to the hotel that some local residents are worried will increase local traffic and provide little extra for the local community], improve the relationship of the stadium with adjoining area, particularly Harleyford Street. They’ll seek to improve quality of shopping space and seek appropriate re-use of Oval House Theatre. The council seek to improve traffic and environmental conditions for pedestrians, and linkages between Kennington park and shopping frontages on Clapham Road and Kennington Park Road. [It will be interesting to see what exactly is proposed. I suspect that the linkages for Kennington Park will all be at the back where they’ll work to join up the sports part of the park with the front section. Kennington Park Road is notoriously busy and will only be adversely affected by turning the southern Elephant roundabout into a T-Junction, so I’ll be interested to hear about how the shopping front linkages are going to work without delaying the traffic.]


Saturday, 25 April 2009

Vergie's Cafe, Kennington

I'm afraid I got it wrong with Vergies earlier on the week. They have actually opened, but appear to pull down some white blinds in the evening that make it look as though they're not operational.

I arrived just in time to see them close this evening (I /will/ make it when they're open), but managed to cunningly ask for a menu, which I have cleverly scanned in for readers below. I think the prices look great (nothing on the menu is more than £5.00). The reviews coming in are positive. Two readers have eaten there and are recommending it. It's clearly aimed at the middle of the market, and there are some good touches eg. "pink grapefruit juice" and some not so great ideas "meat sandwiches".

According to the person locking up this evening, the hours are 7:30 - 16:30 Monday to Saturday, and some slightly shorter hours on Sunday.

See below for full menu:

Front of Vergie's menu

Backof Vergie's menu

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Mark Harrison selected as Labour candidate

Further to my post the other day about Sam Townend's resignation in Princes Ward, I just heard that Mark Harrison (as predicted) has been selected as the Labour candidate for the election in June.

So a quick update:

Michael Poole-Wilson = Conservative candidate
???? = Green party candidate
Mark Harrison = Labour candidate
???? = Lib Dem candidate

Various Kennington bits and pieces

The cafe that was formerly Jado's, formerly Dippy Egg has now been painted dark green and has a large sign on the front proclaiming "Vergie's Cafe" (thanks to readers for spotting it). The Lurking About blog has been getting quite a few clicks from people searching for more information, but unfortunately, the place hasn't opened yet (at least, not of a few days ago) so there's nothing new to add yet.

Residents who have been in the area for some time might remember that there used to be a Labour party "office front" in the Wincott Parade row of shops. Fortunately, Google Street view has immortalised the image (along with that of the local postie). However, within the last month or so that shop front has been replaced with a new shop named "Red Madder", which I finally managed to visit on Saturday. The shop sells some lovely pots and statues for gardens, but is mainly a web based operation. Their website is here and the man that runs the shop is happy to enter into discussions about reducing the postage if you want to order online and pick up locally in Kennington.

On a related note, of interest to local gardeners might be Kennington Gardens Society yearly programme.

Caroline Pidegon and Tom Brake (MP) campaign to reduce unfair oyster charges

Acknowledgement to Mayor Watch from whom I've co-opted this story!

I went to work from Vauxhall tube station, but entirely missed seeing Caroline Pidegon (Member of London Assembley) and Tom Brake (MP) campaigning this morning at the bus station for a new "one hour" ticket which would see Oyster cards have money deducted from them once an hour, rather than on a "per bus journey" basis.

If they'd been luckier, they might have campaigned yesterday when the Victoria line was down. The whole of South London (it seemed) was catapaulted on to the local buses, resulting in a massive crush. The number 2, which I was on, stopped at Marble Arch, only to throw all the passengers on to the number 2 in front resulting in, you guessed it, everybody on a "pay as you go" Oyster card complaining that they were being charged twice. The driver of the original bus was supposed to give out slips of paper indicating that the journey had been paid for, but the bus was so full that it would have delayed all passengers.

I think it's quite an interesting idea, but (like quite a number of Lib Dem good ideas) would result in (according to the article) TFL losing £50 million revenue. I'd be much more interested in seeing the money spent on more cycle routes, signage, bike lockup points and cycling schemes. However, the fact remains that South London is utterly reliant on its buses, many of which terminate early, resulting in unsatisfactory journey costs all round.

In any case, I do like to see politicians out and about campaigning early in the morning. It shows dedication. I wonder whether they might follow the lead of Labour's Val Shawcross who has been spending time monitoring infrequent buses on routes 1 and 78 with pen and clipboard!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Sam Townend - Absentee Councillor of Prince's Ward stands down

[Edited to add the Conservative candidate.]

An interesting piece of news is making its way around Twittersphere today...

Councillor Townend, the absentee Princes Ward councillor has agreed to stand down before the next election in 2010. Sam Townend was rather naughty in the 2006 Princes Ward elections because he gained a place as a councillor in Princes Ward only to leave London in 2007 and move to Bristol. He is now standing as a Labour parliamentary candidate in North Bristol. Hopefully, the North Bristol constituents will agree that this behaviour wasn't at all responsible for a potential MP! I mean, what is to stop him hopping off to another county if another opportunity becomes available? After all, the second home allowances are very generous :-)

Last Winter, the Kennington Conservatives decided to take advantage of Cllr Townend's absence to proclaim that "Kennington deserves better". Obviously Sam Townend agreed because, according to a Bristol newspaper, he has decided to "allow the people of my old ward to elect a new representative". How generous of him! Consequently, there will be an election in Princes Ward, which is very exciting, and will be the first election since this blog began...

Word on the street suggests that baby-faced Mark Harrison will likely stand as the next Labour candidate in Princes, and his picture has been splashed over the SE11 Action Blog for some time now. I will let you all have the scoop on the LibDem/Green etc. candidates as the info. about who might stand becomes available.

The Conservative party informed me today that the candidate they will field for Princes Ward will be Michael Poole-Wilson.

Since Princes Ward runs slap bang through SE11, we'll be ensuring that you receive all of the election news in a non-partisan manner with rude comments where necessary!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Local Development Framework - Draft Core Strategy [Sections 5, 6 and 7]

Lambeth council recently released a draft version of its "Core Strategy", which is the most important document contained in the "Local Development Framework". The entire document is 116 pages long, although the Council welcome comments. I've been sifting through it over the past few days have and produced a cut-down version, mostly just summarising what was written. I've not changed their wording much, but have shortened and simplified because it contains some interesting ideas for the Borough.

I've used the document headings where possible, but have not summarised every section as it's a highly repetitive document.The terms in purple are the "key" definitions.
The insightful comments in red are my comments. Due to length of the document, I've split my summaries into separate blog posts.

Section 5 – Spatial Planning Issues

In order to achieve sustainable development over next 15-20 yrs, the Core Strategy must address 6 key issues:

1. Accommodating population growth (p24)

According to the mayor’s London Plan, Lambeth must find space for additional 1100 homes every year until 2016/2017. This target has been exceeded for the three yrs since 2005/6. Demand will come as Lambeth children grow up, existing households break into smaller units, and adults/families migrate to the borough to find work and a place to live. Affordability is a struggle in Lambeth where entry level price for housing is high compared with household income. Lambeth’s essential public services find it hard to retain key workers because they can’t afford to live close to whether they work. Lambeth need to identify an additional four pitches for gypsies and travellers in Lambeth.

2. Achieving economic prosperity and opportunity for all (p26)

Lambeth is prosperous, but with pockets of extreme poverty. The poverty is in commercially vibrant areas eg. Waterloo/Brixton. Therefore skills shortages are filled by migrant labour which then increases demand for local housing, transport and services. The Core Strategy will contribute to tackling these barriers by maintaining a supply of local job opportunities. Affordability of premises is an issue for some businesses eg. creative sector and social enterprises.

Waterloo and Vauxhall present the most significant potential for commercial development and job growth in the borough, as well as potential for new housing. However, this will not happen unless the capacity of the public transport infrastructure serving these areas also grows at a sufficient rate. Major developers will be expected to help meet the cost of increasing this. (p27) [They will probably be able to tick the boxes to say that this is done if the developers of Battersea Power Station add two additional tube stations to the Northern Line, but I’m not sure whether those will fall strictly in Lambeth. I think that one of them will. It doesn’t really help anybody living towards the south of the Borough]

Lambeth’s hierarchy of town centres presents another opportunity. New shops need to be located in a way that supports, rather than undermines existing town centres. Brixton and Streatham have potential for new commercial and residential development. This will help secure their future in the face of retail and leisure expansion at Elephant and Battersea. Clapham High Street is thriving. Other high streets need careful regeneration eg. West Norwood, Stockwell [where exactly is Stockwell High Street?] and Herne Hill (p28).


3. Tacking and adapting to climate change (p29)

Most important contribution is to reduce carbon emissions by meeting needs locally, promoting alternative to the car, sustainable design of buildings, re-use of existing buildings, renewable energy, safeguarding allotments, retaining/promoting tree growth, urban greening and reducing landfill waste. [I detect a clash of goods between attempting to build the council housing stock on certain open land, versus promoting green spaces in the north of the Borough. Watch this space.] However, there will still be a need for appropriate car usage, and parking, including for those with mobility difficulties.

4. Providing essential infrastructure (physical, social and green) (p31)

It won’t be possible to achieve the significant levels of housing and economic growth set out in the Core Strategy without supporting transport infrastructure. [This point is reiterated throughout the document, but other than the proposed Northern line extension, I can't see where the investment might come from to promote this.] North/south transport is better than east/west transport and major developers in worst locations will be expected to supplement significant future public sector investment. More land is required for schools. Lambeth, particularly in the north has little open space relative to population. More open space is needed for burial sites.

Lambeth has various sites for sustainable waste management, but does not have the quantity to manage 486,000 tonnes (the prediction by 2020) (p33). [This is very interesting, and presumably all Boroughs have similar problems. I wonder what community strategies could be promoted for reducing waste.]

A general theme running through all partners’ programmes is trend towards neighbourhood based delivery so local facilities need to be increased to promote adult learning, skills training, English language tuition, employment support, child care etc. [I detect another clash of goods between promotion of "local" high street services (Brixton/Streatham) and development of large retail establishments (Elephant and Vauxhall). The document does actually mention this, but fails to outline how all of the community/retail areas are to grow co-operatively.]

5. Promoting community cohesion and safe, liveable neighbourhoods (p33)

Some communities feel their neighbourhoods lack stability and not enough households stay long enough to put down roots. [That’s probably a correct assessment if one considers that there’s a yearly churn of 20%! See previous post.] Residents in some parts of the borough feel that communities are essential to stable community and that the loss of family housing to flats is damaging that. The Core Strategy seeks to address that. Multiple social problems frequently occur on existing social housing sites and it’s difficult for those communities to make positive changes. [Unsurprisingly], some of these estates fail the “decent homes” standards. [It’s not clear whether “the decent homes standards” relate to the figure on p14 that one third of council housing is “unfit”. I suspect it doesn’t, but I’m not clear what the decent homes standards are, and since it sounds alarming, it would be useful to have this outlined.] Communities need spaces that allow informal day-to-day contact and social interaction. Lambeth has such buildings eg. youth centres, places of worship, cafés, local shops, but coverage is uneven and some have shortages of useable space, while others have under-used facilities. Space for young people is a priority in areas where unemployment/gang activity is high. [I hope they've read the studies that suggest that unstructured youth clubs can actually increase crime.] Lambeth has no central volunteer centre. [Interesting point. A volunteer centre would be an interesting proposal.] Large church congregations struggle to find good sized premises in good locations. In the South of Lambeth, there’s a lack of play facilities.

6. Creating and maintaining attractive, distinctive places (p35)

Historic assets are currently under used. The Core Strategy intends to pay particular attention to proposed development on the River Thames. High density development will continue to be essential to meet Lambeth’s needs over next 10-15 years. Tall buildings are appropriate for some uses and in some locations. The Core Strategy encourages high density development, including tall buildings, where of high quality and appropriately located. [I still wonder where tall buildings are ever appropriately located. I wish somebody would do some work on whether tall buildings create or deter community cohesion.] The large number of artists is a distinctive feature of Lambeth and they have specific space needs. Local shops, independent businesses and street markets are essential to identity. These include gay businesses in Vauxhall, Brixton/Lower Marsh markets, Portuguese businesses in Stockwell and Somali businesses in Streatham.

Section 6 – Spatial Vision and Strategic Objectives & Section 7 – Strategic Policies

These sections reiterate much of the above, but p38 has an optimistic and visionary idea of Lambeth in 2030. p42 has a map, showing transport hubs and key areas. p46 sets some housing targets that I haven’t seen elsewhere in the document.

---

Section 8 will probably appear tommorrow. It is quite interesting, but is taking a while to summarise because it deals with local areas, and is quite information heavy.

Local Development Framework - Draft Core Strategy [Sections 1 and 2]

Lambeth council recently released a draft version of its "Core Strategy", which is the most important document contained in the "Local Development Framework". The entire document is 116 pages long, although the Council welcome comments. I've been sifting through it over the past few days have and produced a cut-down version, mostly just summarising what was written. I've not changed their wording much, but have shortened and simplified because it contains some interesting ideas for the Borough.

I've used the document headings where possible, but have not summarised every section as it's a highly repetitive document.
The terms in purple are the "key" definitions.
The insightful comments in red are my comments.

Section 1 – Introduction

A Local Development Framework (LDF) is a collection of documents designed to guide development of a borough over 15/20 years. The Core Strategy is the first and most important document in the LDF. A Local Development Framework must achieve sustainable development for the area it covers. The four guiding principles for sustainable development are: Social progress, Environmental protection, Prudent use of natural resources and High levels of economic growth and employment. (p4)

The Lambeth Sustainable Community Strategy is a document used to prepare The Core Strategy, and the Sustainable Community Strategy contains data related to social, economic and environmental wellbeing, including health and community safety information. (p92)

Overall vision for Lambeth Sustainable Community Strategy is that by 2020 Lambeth will be a diverse, dynamic and enterprising borough at the heart of London, and there are 7 long term outcomes for the area:

* Great place to do business with high investment
* Greater well being for households through more residents in employment
* More young people on path to success
* Safe and cohesive places where people are empowered and play active roles in communities
* Improved health / well being of people to live independent lives
* Lower levels of poverty / exclusion by helping adults into employment, education and training
* Mixed and sustainable communities with more new homes, improved existing dwellings and environment

Lambeth’s LDF will be important tool to implement spatial aspects of outcomes such as geographical inequality, new housing and jobs and delivering infrastructure. (p6)

Significant proportion of Lambeth Core Strategy is dependent on private sector for delivery, re. new housing and commercial development; offices, etc. This is dependent on availability of development finance through the market. The Lambeth Core Strategy is meant to be flexible enough to enable private sector development at all stages of economic cycle.

Section 2 – Evidence Base

Population and Diversity

Lambeth covers an area area of approximately ten and a half square miles and population projected to grow 17% to 317,000 by 2026. Lambeth is among the most densely populated areas in the country, and current household composition includes high proportion of single parent households with dependent children. Population churn is estimated at 20% every year. [That’s very high! I didn't realise that so many people stayed in Lambeth so briefly.] (p13)

Lambeth is even more ethnically diverse than rest of London. The largest groups of immigrants between 2002 and 2006 were Polish, and after that Australian, and then Jamaican. [It seems to me that it’s a bit pointless to have “diversity” be an aim of the Sustainable Community Strategy when this has clearly already been achieved and is unlikely to change!] (p13)

Deprivation

2007 Index of Multiple Deprivation places Lambeth as 5th most deprived borough in London and 19th most deprived in England, which is worse than 2004, and is a result of improvements in other boroughs as well as a decline in Lambeth of income, health/disability, living environment and access to housing/barriers to services. (p13). The most deprived areas are spread, but concentrated in Coldharbour ward in Brixton, and Crown Lane area of Knights Hill ward. Most affluent include the Thames-side part of Bishops and Dulwich borer area of Thurlow Park (p14).

Housing

Lambeth’s housing consists 70% flats and 30% houses and is typical of inner London. Price of an average dwelling is around £350k in December 2007, but this had decreased by approx. 12% by December 2008. [That brings down the average dwelling to being worth £308k by my calculations.] Average gross household income in Lambeth is 31k per year. [My guess is that that's quite low for London as a whole.] (p14)

32% of council homes and estimated 11% of private sector dwellings were assessed as “unfit” by Council’s private sector stock condition survey in 2004. [That is bad. Are they really saying that a third of council homes are unfit for habitation? Are people actually living in them?] There are just under 2k households living in temporary accommodation (Dec 2008), and 13kish households in “housing need” within the Borough. (p14)


Economy

There are around 10k businesses in Lambeth. 75% of these have fewer than 5 employees. Lambeth has third lowest business density per head of population across inner London, but numbers of VAT registered firms grew by 14% between 2002 and 2006. [This will probably drop again due to the recession.] (p14)

There’s a cluster of large employers around Waterloo/Vauxhall. Over half of Lambeth’s existing jobs are located in Waterloo/South Bank area. The borough suffers high rates of unemployment – 71% of working age people employed in 2007/2008 in Lambeth compared with 70% across London and 74% nationally. (Doesn’t sound that bad to me, compared with the 70% figure for whole of London). Lambeth has one of highest number of incapacity benefit claimants (p15).

Education and Transport

Lambeth has 86 schools of which 13 are secondary. There’s a shortage of secondary places in the borough. There are very few surplus places in Lambeth primary schools and demand is expected to rise. Over 123 community languages are spoken in Lambeth schools in addition to English. (p15)

There are 14 overground railway stations spread evenly and 8 underground stations mainly in the north, with many bus routes. Residents in Streatham and West Norwood are dependent on rail and bus connections. Half of households don’t have access to a car, which is one of highest proportions in the country. Traffic congestion is a serious concern for residents. (p16)

Environment

There are 1.54 hectares of unrestricted open space in Lambeth per 1000 of the population, but access is unevenly spread and limited in north of the borough (p16). Total energy consumption in Lambeth is 3.2% of total energy consumption in London [seems quite low to me, considering Lambeth's high population, but this might be due to lack of industry]. In September 2008, an estimated 6700 households were in fuel poverty. Lambeth has lower levels of carbon dioxide emissions at 5.5 tonnes per 1000 population than London as a whole (6.8 tonnes). Despite predicted improvements in air quality in Lambeth over next 4/5 years, some measures eg. Nitrogen dioxide will continue to fail government targets (p17).

In line with targets, 25% of Lambeth household waste was recycled in 2007/8 and that has increased steadily from less than 10% in 2001/2002. Lambeth ranked 20th for house household recycling and composting in 2007/8 amongst London boroughs (p17). [It sounds as though Lambeth have taken vast steps forward, but there must be some way to go, since 20th is quite a long way down! Would be interesting to have a ranking compared to the country as a whole.]

Health and social care

Lambeth scores the 4th worst in London on unhealthy lifestyles and obesity is growing among young people. There are an estimated 5029 people in borough for whom drug use is a problem. [I expect this is a chronic underestimation because these stats. are likely to be very difficult to measure, and underestimating means that provision of services can be avoided.] Lambeth has one of highest incidence of mental health issues in capital, particularly among residents from ethnic minority backgrounds (p18).

Lambeth has a high and increasing birth rate, and numbers expected to live over 85 years old will increase demand in care services. Lambeth has the highest teenage conception rate in the UK (p18). [That’s a news headline if ever there was one.]

Community Safety

p18/19 Comparing London Boroughs, Lambeth had 4th highest count of Total Notifiable Offences (which includes majority of crimes, but excludes more minor offences), but that has been reducing since 2003/2004. Gun enabled crimes are high but decreasing. Tackling gang related crime, violent extremism and threat of terrorism are growing priorities for the borough. Crime in Lambeth is high around public transport interchanges.

[Even my cut down version of the document is long (around 4k words), so I'm going to post the next interesting sections as separate posts just to break it down somewhat.]

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Morrells, or Morrell and Sons is going to become....

One of the Lurking commentators asked whether I know what is happening to Morrell and Sons (or Morrell's as it's known locally) builders' merchants.

I feared for weeks that it might become another Estate Agent, but fortunately, the economic climate is preventing further expansion in that sector. I've no issue with Estate Agents, but the proliferation in SE11 was starting to become tedious.

I have it on good authority that Morrell's is now occupied by a firm that intend to turn it into a Plumbers Merchant/bathroom shop, and they are currently selling off the remaining old stock in preparation to replace it with plumbing merchandise.

We'll have to wait and see... I'm quite impressed that certain empty retail units in Kennington are being replaced quite so quickly. The shop fronts are being occupied at a time of immense economic instability, so clearly the foot fall around Kennington Cross makes it desirable. There are still a few too many empties opposite Kennington park, between Kennington and Oval tubes. I don't think there's any more space for a convenience store (there are already three within spitting distance). I'd like to see a cafe in the empty laundrette next to the funeral directors, but again, the area has quite a lot of Greasy Spoons, the best, in my humble opinion, being the fabulously friendly Parma Cafe.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Imperial Court Kennington - Darling residence

Yesterday, the blog was receiving a few hits for "Alistair Darling" and "Imperial Court". Since the analytics quite often reveal news that I know nothing about, I did a very quick google search and found an ancient comment on an old news article from 2006 linking Mr Darling with Imperial Court. I decided that a 4 year old headline wasn't newsworthy and ignored the matter, but it hasn't gone away because, lo and behold...

An article appeared yesterday in the filthy Daily Fail, which seems to implicate Mr Darling in the cash for second homes wheeze on which MPs are currently being quizzed. The Fail claims that Alistair Darling bought a flat in Imperial Court in 2005, designated it as his second home three years ago (I think they must have meant 2005) and declared that it had been let out in 2007. Essentially, Mr Darling has done nothing wrong, but has been being clever with the "second home allowance", swapping his second residence between Imperial Court and his Scottish house. I can't see that he has broken the rules, but he has bent them to suit himself. Wealthy British citizens bend the law to avoid being taxed. Poor British citizens bend the law to gain maximum government benefits. MPs get away with bending the regulations because the second home allowance regulations are broken, and they're exploiting a loop hole. Big deal? Not really. The regulations just need to be fixed. So the £40k that British tax payers have shelled out for Imperial Court does not seem to imply financial irregularity on the part of Mr Darling. It's just cheeky.

But the most interesting part of the whole question is quite why anybody would want to own a flat in Imperial Court, SE11. The flats appeared to undergo some kind of developer duplication process, so the interiors are identical, and not tasteful. Many of the carpets are cream, and the ones that I've seen now need replacement! For the most part, their kitchens are small. Some of them have a nasty view over the back of the wasteland near Tesco, overlooking the gasometers. The flats at the front suffer from the noise of Kennington Lane. The apartments do have a gymn and sauna in the basement, but such facilities probably mean that the flats have high service charges. The concierge must cost a considerable amount! That said, some of the flats are reasonably sized, but they're nothing special. I wonder if I can demonstrate what I mean.

Here are some shots of the inside of an Imperial Court residence. This is one from Foxtons. Most of the kitchens look like this one. That fact is demonstated by a quick look at the flat advertised on Gumtree. The flat that Foxtons are advertising has quite a large living room, but they're not all quite so fortunate in that regard. This Gumtree advertised flat is quite a typical example.

I'm not saying that I wouldn't buy a flat in Imperial Court given the opportunity, but I think a four bedroom ex-local authority council property would generate considerably more rental income.

Traffic accident in Elephant and Castle and accident in Kennington

Post edited to reflect new information as of 9/4/2009:

I've had quite a few hits on my blog today and last night from people searching for the phrase "accident in Kennington".

I assumed at first that people were looking for information about the accident which occurred on the Elephant and Castle roundabout, and in which, tragically, a female cyclist was killed. London-SE1 has an article on that accident, and police are asking for witnesses. The Evening Standard has a more detailed report, which gives witness reports that the cyclist was trapped between an articulated lorry and iron railings.

However, it seems that there were two accidents on 8th April in the area, and (according to Twitter), a second accident occurred in SE11, on Kennington Road just in front of the Texaco garage at about 17:30. The accident in Kennington Road /also/ required an air ambulance and a commentator today noted that the helicopter landed on Lambeth Walk Open Space. Stockwell News has noted reports in the South London Press that the victim was a 14 year old male cyclist.

This is probably why reports of traffic chaos around Kennington/Elephant today were prolific.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Amici Takeover

I have it from a good source that:

1. Amici restaurant (currently at 305-307, Kennington Road) but will move across to the old Franklins site (205 - 209, Kennington Lane).

2. 305-307 Kennington Road will stay in the same hands, but will become a steak and burger bar.

3. R Due Amici (310-312 Kennington Road) is unaffected and run by the same party!

There's still no news on the cafe formerly known as The Dippy Egg, formerly known as Jado, but they're painting it a lovely green colour inside and giving it a very thorough refit.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Braganza Street / Kennington Park Road

There are currently 5 police cars and a police van with assorted police presence around Kennington tube station. The station is still open and the area into Braganza St from Kennington Park Road is cordoned off. The police will only report that there's been a road traffic accident, but it must have been a serious accident for such a heavy police presence.

Lurking about SE11 appears red faced

I'm afraid to say that this lurker about SE11 has been taken in by Mr Onion Bag's April fool. See previous post. I didn't even realise that I had been taken in until I received the comments from readers today - d'oh.

It looks like we're still stuck with the OBB for the time being ;)

The Three wheeled one will now shuffle off into a corner in an embarrassed fashion.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Mr Onion Bag goes into the red

Congratulations to Mr Onion Bag, on his employment by Lambeth Council. The OBB displays a slightly scary legal warning, requesting that people remove any links on their blogs that might have linked to any views on his blog in which he might have mentioned Lambeth Council. He has self-censored all of his prior views about Lambeth Council (which is a shame) and now, presumably, will only continue to report on sport or local matters not relating to the council. It does beg the question about what happens if somebody has blogged about his former views on the Council, but has since died or can't be contacted to remove reference to the views. Also, I'm not sure what happens to the Way Back Machine web archive, or the archive that is now being kept by The British Library, but I presume one can force deleted pages not to appear. What more can I say about the quieting of this local blogger? Kudos to Lambeth council for employing their public relations nuisance most vocal local tweeter. What would anybody do in today's economic climate were they Mr Onion Bag? I guess we all have to eat.

Since I don't work for Lambeth/Southwark councils or any political party related to the current administration (or any political party) and don't plan on standing as a councillor in any election any time soon, I can say whatever I like about the council (presumably, within reason). Interestingly, if I say anything inaccurate about the Council, I might face censure (or worse) by Mr Onion Bag in his new role as Lambeth Council Web Policeman.

I will, however, continue to stick to the facts and post about the Council (only because it's still relatively entertaining). On a related note, I have sadly not received a response from Lambeth Council's new Green Community Champion Co-ordinator since I emailed her on 26/3/2009 about wormeries, composters and becoming a local green champion. I suppose she might not have settled into her role yet (or the email might have been eaten by Lambeth Council's computer system), so I'll give it a few more days.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep blogging about Lambeth Council in the hope I'm offered a job ;)

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