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.]
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