Thursday, 25 March 2010

Bondway Tower - Council Refused Planning Permission

Stockwell News has already commented and I'm rather behind the times with this one, but contrary to the permission granted to Vauxhall Sky Gardens last week, the revised Bondway planning permission application was refused by Lambeth Planning Committee.

Various community groups turned up to make representation on some of the following grounds:

* Density (building would be more densely populated than allowed in the London Plan)

* Building is too wide and too tall, and thus detrimental to the public realm

* Not enough employment use floorspace is provided for (as specified in the Lambeth Plan), considering that the building would be within the Vauxhall Key Industrial and Business Area

* The development is located within an area of public open space deficiency, identified in the Lambeth Plan. The Lambeth Section 106 report asks that enhanced contributions to park/open space projects from commercial and residential developments in these opportunity areas. Unfortunately, no contributions were sought.

* Lambeth schools are unable to accommodate the demands placed upon them by population growth

* No parking is provided for the block, which would mean the friends and family of visitors would try to park locally, exacerbating a difficult parking situation in Vauxhall. (This is a no win situation... if parking is provided, people complain about traffic and extra pollution).

* Overcrowding and gate closure at Vauxhall underground station.

* The building's huge shadow (due to its size) would cast a shadow on surrounding residential areas after 3pm - 4pm, and I doubt the current residents are happy about that.

Guess who was still recommending that the building be granted planning permission? That would be Lambeth Council Officers.

It seems, somehow, that Lambeth Councillors suffer from what I might label an "impotence to influence" that nonetheless allows for an ongoing expansion of the Lambeth empire. The views of local Councillors have no more weight than those of the local community. In any case, the Council know that, if there is no local objection (or local objection is not organised), the officers will just go ahead and recommend any new building, however inappropriate. The Councillors get to look good and say things like "we consulted the local community, and then we opposed the development", in the knowledge that the officers will recommend and the Borough will grow anyway. It matters not whether Labour or the Lib Dems are in power because the officers don't change, and the Borough's empire expands indefinitely. Fortunately, Lambeth Planning Committee, although presumably heavily influenced by the officers report, do still act independently (as in this example), but this won't be the last of this one....

Apparently, the developer only sent one spokesman along to the meeting, who declined to respond to the above criticisms, made by members of the public. Additionally, the Planning Committee were somewhat concerned that the officers still recommended acceptance, despite the Planning Committee's advice about what needed to be changed.

I get the impression that this one will be back on the table at some point with minor modifications re. open space and density (which will result in the reduction of public housing), and the whole thing will kick off again. Watch this space.

[I'm aware that some objections were made by David Boardman, of Kennington Association Planning Forum, and Michael Ball of Waterloo Development Group, and I'm sure that the Vauxhall Society must have made their views known.  However, I'd appreciate additional comments about others present so that I can give credit to those who put considerable effort into preparing and turning up for these meetings.  Also, if anybody spoke in favour of the building, it would be good to add that info. for the record and for balance.]


Bathsheba said...

Hey, Lurker and hey, Peeps. Thanks for all your lovely detail on the Bondway decision.
BTW And I'm really not annoyed about this - it's just that I don't want people to think I am at home lunching with my friends etc and occasionally blogging. Just so you know, I do have a dayjob - and teenagers and a Mr. Bathsheba. It was only that I like to get up early. So don't feel bad...
Bathsheba - Stockwell News

SE11 Lurker said...

Ha! :-) My Twitter jealousy re. day jobs was not in any way getting at you. I genuinely wish that all of my attention could be directed towards local news :) I'm aware that most local bloggers do heaps of other things, so would not wish to presume that you (or indeed any others) were at home lunching with friends!

I tend to think it's more important that our local South London news gets a wide platform (and digital inclusion is a massive problem) than that anybody gets their news out first :)

Anonymous said...

One could read your view: "only build huge buildings if they contain all free or subsidised housing".

Isn't too much concentrated public housing, and not enough private enterprise, what made Lambeth "down and out" (and the replacing of it what is made it "up, comming, arrived"?

SE11 Lurker said...

"One could read your view: "only build huge buildings if they contain all free or subsidised housing"."

That would be an utterly simplistic reading of my view. I didn't say what I thought about public housing at all. (I happen to think percentage of public housing is rather dependent on how much housing is being built and where). On this post, I didn't really comment on public housing, other than to say that the percentage will be reduced if the density of building is reduced :)

I do think that private development should fund public housing, but I think it far preferable to mix public/private housing properly than to separate public housing and private housing and segregate society.

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