Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Bondway - Appeal against planning refusal (Part 1: Opening Statement)

The Bondway Tower planning appeal began on 20th July and was presented at Lambeth Town Hall.  Many representatives for the local community met (headed by David Boardman of Kennington Association Planning Forum) to prepare several lengthy documents and then  present them at the Appeal.  Viva Vauxhall mentioned the appeal a while ago, and the documents (which present a strong argument against the erection of the 149 metre Bondway Tower) are available on the Kennington Association Planning blog.

What I'm going to do in a series of blog posts is try to distill the contents of some of the Bondway documents.  The information that David Boardman and co. revealed through a Freedom of Information request from Lambeth is fascinating and I think readers should be aware of the sheer scale of the proposed Bondway development.  The Appeal campaign (mounted by many represenatives from the local community) has probably not received enough exposure, due to its necessarily dense and detailed documents.  I've tried to summarise the info. and only publicise the interesting bits, which will appear over the next week or so in a Bondway Appeal series.  My comments are in red.

Bondway Appeal Series, Part 1 (opening statement):
20th July - Opening Statement to the Bondway Enquiry Document:

The Vauxhall community has not been well served by the planning system.  The gyratory is despised by residents and TFL has failed to engage with the community about how it might be improved.  The Bondway developers hope to "repopulate" what they call a "traffic dominated backwater".  Boardman notes that the area is not in need of repopulation, but would benefit from regeneration. 

Following the Secretary of State's decision to allow the St George Wharf Tower (180m), it's inevitable that developers would want to build a cluster, but planning guidance is not clear how this should happen.  Planning documents are only available in draft eg. Vauxhall Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) and Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Opportunity Planning Framework (VNEB), but have not been formally adopted.  The Kennington Association Planning Forum complained that there is no outline plan for the area, but were informed by the Bondway developers that one did exist, and had been used to write the Vauxhall SPD!  A FOI request forced Lambeth Council to reveal the document (named "Vauxhall Urban Design Study").  However, the Urban Design Study revealed a plan for a different cluster of buildings to the one in the VNEB report. 

Ok, if you're still with me (apologies for the acronyms), it appears that the VNEB (document commissioned by the Mayor of London) and the SPD (document commissioned by Lambeth Council) formulated two different plans of what a cluster of tall buildings in Vauxhall would look like.  Surprisingly (given Boris' view on tall buildings), the VNEB study suggested taller buildings in Vauxhall than the SPD study. 

Indeed, the SPD study suggested that the cluster be based around the Vauxhall Triangle / Vauxhall Cross site (that's Kylun's site) with Bondway Tower being shorter than it. Additionally, the Lambeth study (SPD) suggested 40% employment space, and Bondway developers have submitted plans for 10%. More crucially, the Mayor's Density Plan suggests that units should be built at 405 units per hectare.  The Design for London report gives a wider limit of 500 units per hectare.  Bondway Developers wish to house people at 1297 per hectareThis would have serious consequences for residents living in the buildings, and one would imagine that tenants offered social housing would suffer the most (as they inevitably do in such developments).

Boardman noted that Bondway had not provided reasons for departing from providing the originally agreed percentage of social housing.   A concern was also raised about the negative impact the proposed Bondway tower would have on Vauxhall Park.  Additionally, Vauxhall Underground Station is at capacity due to gate line and escalator capacity (gates already have to be closed at times, during rush hour).  Finally, Lambeth (as a borough) has an Open Space deficiency.  Lambeth through the SPD had suggested that additional green space be added to the west of the Bondway site.  Bondway are in favour of this, but want it added using their neighbour's land.  The Kennington Association Planning Forum consider that Bondway should offer Section 106 funding for the purchase of such land, and that the Section 106 monies payable by the applicant should be a considerably larger sum than is ordinarily the case to buy land to mitigate the space deficiency.  They suggest the figure of £10 million.

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