Thanks to Markvauxhall on Twitter for the heads up re. yet another request for planning permission in Vauxhall (student accommodation). I'm surprised nobody raised it last night at the meeting, but it's only about four storeys high and the design probably won't be contentious (view the application here) and an external drawing here. We don't have much (any?) student accommodation in Vauxhall (not having a university on our doorstep), so in principle, there might seem to be no objection. (Students can hardly be more disturbing to residents than the late night revellers at Fire, can they?). What it would be useful to know is whether there will be any other requests for student accommodation. I mean, I can see that people would think that 92 student units are not a major problem, but how do we know whether there are more to come? Could there be 500 units or 1000 units, once the big buildings have gone up? Would that make Vauxhall a student hub, in the same way parts of Borough and Elephant will be?
As raised by several people at the KOV meeting yesterday, it seems that there is an ongoing issue pertaining to the requests for permission lining up with the Mayor's Plan for Nine Elms and the Vauxhall Supplementary Planning Document. Each time a developer submits a request for planning permission for a new building, the transport and infrastructure questions are only considered for the building in question by the local council (in this case, Lambeth). Does this mean that the developers will keep having planning permission granted because "just one more building" won't affect the underground tube congestion? As long as Lambeth Council are seen to be proceeding on a building by building basis, there is less need for anybody to consider the overall area, and the effects that new buildings will have on older buildings and the surrounding townscape. Indeed, it's rather impossible for residents to object, approve or comment on each new building because it's so time consuming to work in this manner. Please could we consider multiple buildings and their effects on one another, before we have to comment on the next in the series?
It seems to me that nobody holds a master plan... Or perhaps they do... The problem is that the masterplan is secret. My journey to work reading this morning revealed that the Mayor knows something that we don't. Look carefully at p30 of the Mayor's Plan, which states, "In relation to the broad land use strategy, the planning framework estimates in the region of 20,000 - 25,000 new jobs in the Opportunity Area... This estimate is based upon the development capacity study and a review of planned schemes in the OA (which cannot be shared for confidentiality reasons). Does this mean that Boris Johnson holds a masterplan for the area, but can't tell us about it, in case local residents are able to orchestrate an effective campaign that will call for sensible building and community development, rather than "increased density" and "intensification"? How do local residents discover what the "planned schemes" for the OA are until we're given a very short amount of time to comment on them? And if we don't know how all of the buildings will fit together, how is the consultation meaningful?
Thanks for the comments on the earlier post. I do agree with the commentators that there are large parts of the area that would benefit from development and regeneration. Improved transport infrastructure in the area would be great for all Londoners. It is important that we retain industrial space for small businesses, that unattractive frontages be removed and replaced, that commercial space is balanced with residential space, and that residential space is properly mixed, with affordable housing being provided for workers and their families. All of this is good, and public discussion must ensue. Unfortunately, the Mayor's plan is about "potential sites" and "predicted heights", but we need to see a master plan of proposed developments in order to make useful comments and ask probing questions. Without that, it's as though everybody else is being kept in the dark.
Consider this a public request for transparency... Please.
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