Today I received an email from the Chair of Kennington Association Planning Forum who only learned, by accident, last week, that Lambeth Council were re-hearing the application last night! In addition, both the Kennington Association and the Vauxhall Society were listed in the officers' report to councillors as having been formally consulted. Both organisations claim not to have been formally consulted. Are the officers lying to the councillors, or have two organisations made administrative errors?
Anyway. Guess what? The amended building proposal was approved.
It was approved despite the fact that representations were made at the meeting, as follows:
1. The density of the development was wholly excessive (three and a half times higher than the Mayor's upper limit for areas of this sort). [Do the Council have a duty to listen to the Mayor? Boris... are you watching, or is it ok for them to do as they please because this is South London?]
2. The Section 106 contribution for public open space, calculated by Lambeth's current formula, geared to historic levels of Lambeth (under) investment in open space and parks, was wholly inadequate to generate the extra 1.6 hectare per 1000 new residents aspired to by the Lambeth Supplementary Planning Document. [Do the Council have a duty to listen to observe their own guidelines? Clearly not.]
3. Neither Kennington Association nor Vauxhall Society had been consulted, contrary to what the Councillors were told in the officers' report.
The Chair of KA Planning Forum asked me to write that excellent representations were made against the Vauxhall Sky Gardens by Michael Ball of Waterloo Community Development Group, who focused on density, overall design and the failure of the employment generating floorspace, and Cllr Rob Banks of Oval ward (Lib Dem) who focused on a failure to provide local amenities.
So much for consultation and the democratic process. I mean, really, why bother? The Council is not going to listen to local residents views. Why should they? The councillors are powerless against their own planning committees. And it seems the planning committees just do as they please.
Perhaps the Kennington Association Planning Forum and the Vauxhall Society will try to appeal the permission on the grounds that they were not formally consulted. I don't know whether that's even possible.
Obviously, now that this building has been granted permission, Bondway is more likely to be given permission within the next week, on precedent.
According to Skyscaper News, on Vauxhall Sky Gardens, (hardly an unbiased source),
"One reason the council will have given planning permission to the original design was because it was a good quality building. It seems however that planning law allows the developer to use that permission to set a precedent for height in the area and then propose something else that keeps within the previous building envelope that would perhaps, have never originally been allowed.So, it appears that Lambeth Council have approved the new application. I wonder whether the officers noted that Vauxhall Station is over crowded, and that approval of additional tall buildings in the area is going to place heavy strain on the Underground capacity in the area. I wonder if anybody noted that there is no funding in place for any Northern line Extension. Probably not. Lambeth Council don't care about infrastucture, only housing targets. And the Mayor doesn't care about finding money for South London transport infrastructure, because it's only South London, afterall.
This way they have defused the issue of height preventing it from being attacked on those grounds. It should be interesting to see if this approach is successful and, in time, if Lambeth Council approve the new application."
The developers can do whatever they please in Vauxhall and Nine Elms because the Council will never listen to local residents pleas to be more reasonable. Most people recognise that there is room in Vauxhall for regeneration and development, of course there is. But surely local people should have some say about what that development might look like? Obviously not.
And I'm meant to remain politically neutral...