Author: Cyril Richert
With the recent publishing of the safeguarded route for the Crossrail 2 lines, Wandsworth Council finds himself at odds with its plans to construct a cluster of tall building on Grant Road/Bramlands Close: this is actually the site reserved by Network Rail to implement the Cross Rail entrance at Clapham Junction.
John Stone (Head of Forward Planning and Transportation, Wandsworth Council) submitted a response to the consultation in February 2015 and wrote:
The larger Bramlands site is predominantly owned by the Council although there are a number of other ownerships including Network Rail. There are current proposals for the redevelopment of this site as part of the Council’s master plan for the improvement of the Winstanley and York Road Estates and immediate surrounding area. It is also part of an application for Housing Zone status, which is being considered by the Greater London Authority that is intended to accelerate housing development with this being a key site in viability terms. Proposals for this area include the relocation of the bus stand and the construction of a mixed use development including tall buildings in excess of 9 storeys. Network Rail also has proposals for improving and reletting the railway arches to the south of Grant Road. The Council is concerned that once the safeguarding is issued, TfL would not allow these proposed developments to proceed.
Over the past 18 months, the Council has worked up a Masterplan for the development at Winstanley & York Road Estates. The Masterplan has involved extensive consultation with the local community and an iterative process has led to a preferred option that is both viable and attractive to the market, while ensuring the aims and objectives of the Council are met. As part of the development, the Council has committed to re-providing c. 640 affordable homes under a “one move only” policy.
This process poses substantial funding demands which mean it is essential to enable profitable phases to be brought forward alongside the decant requirement to enable cross subsidy and manage cash-flow. The Council has now carried out the necessary scheme testing, both with local residents and through soft market testing with potential delivery partners, prior to commencing the process of procuring a private sector partner. In the soft market testing undertaken for this development larger developers were particularly interested in the possibilities offered by Bramlands and this added significantly to the attraction of the scheme as a whole. The view was expressed that Bramlands would be used to drive and change values across the whole site. There was further interest in potentially expanding the new housing into other areas, for example the Falcons Estate which would only occur if the Bramlands area was transformed first.
Development of this site is a crucial element of the overall Winstanley and York Road regeneration proposals and the viability of the overall scheme is entirely dependent on the early development of this key site. The Bramlands area has the potential to generate the highest residential values of the whole scheme and the location of Bramlands directly adjacent to Clapham Junction station enables development here to be undertaken at substantially higher densities then elsewhere in the scheme. Consequently it is estimated that 300 plus units could be provided at this location and is a necessary component to enable delivery of the 2,000 + units across the regeneration scheme as well as providing new commercial and cultural facilities which will serve and improve the whole area.
There is a further equally important impact in that transformation of Bramlands is considered to be key to securing the step change in the neighbourhood as a whole and as a consequence crucial to achieving increased viability across the Housing Zone as a whole. Bramlands is at the entrance to the neighbourhood and without change here it will be harder and more problematic to draw higher values across from the south of the railway. It is estimated that this will reduce end values by approximately 15% across the remainder of the scheme.
The Council would like to gain a better understanding of the rationale behind choosing Bramlands as the appropriate land for Safeguarding. The Housing Zone work undertaken to date has identified two alternative sites directly adjacent to the railway line namely the land to the rear of Clapham Junction Station and the Asda/Lidl site. Both these sites contain operational assets and have been considered unlikely to come forward for housing or further development in the short to medium term. As such, these sites may not be encumbered in the immediate sense to safeguarding measures over the coming 10 years. Therefore, it seems these sites provide a potential alternative to the safeguarding of Bramlands, which would ensure housing can come forward at York Road & Winstanley Estates in the short to medium term, meeting the objectives not only of the Housing Zone and the Council, but the aim of Crossrail overall to unlock delivery and service additional housing need.
The Council has had ongoing discussions with Network Rail in regard to their plans both for the refurbishment of the arches on Grant Road but most importantly the expansion of Clapham Junction Station. The Council would like to better understand the connectivity between the wider Network Rail masterplanning/options analysis and the scheduled work streams to progress with the Crossrail 2 plans.
The Council sees a clear need for a joint vision between the Network Rail expansion plans, Crossrail 2 and the bringing forward of housing and regeneration within the proposed Housing Zone. We propose a plan for the area is developed together, ensuring that the optimal proposals both from a transport, housing and overall regeneration perspective are put forward. The varying timescales for delivery of the components make swift collaboration ever more important.
The Council has proposed to form a steering group with the appropriate attendees from all key stakeholders to work up this joint vision in a timeframe that does not pose undue delays to the delivery of housing on Winstanley & York Road Estates or across the proposed Housing Zone as a whole.
Due to the significant and terminal impact that safeguarding of this land as a worksite could have on the long standing regeneration proposals for the whole area and the impact on the provision of substantial amounts of new housing within a Housing Zone, the Council objects in the strongest possible terms to this designation given the clear risks posed to the delivery of housing, regeneration and improvement.
If alternative land is deemed unsuitable, there may be a need to use some of Bramlands for the provision of infrastructure for a new station and a dialogue should be undertaken as soon as possible with TfL and other key stakeholders to identify the infrastructure requirements and assess the potential to plan the new development to allow for this either to be implemented in advance or retrospectively at the point of delivery of Crossrail 2/ overall expansion of Clapham Junction.
Failure to provide certainty on the delivery potential at Bramlands could result insubstantial delays to housing delivery. As such, the Council asks that Barmlands is prioritised such that the impact of safeguarding can be explored jointly over the next 6 months.
Independently of the consideration of the Grand Road/Bramlands site being available for high rise development as intended in plans, we would like Wandsworth Council to stop stating that “The Masterplan has involved extensive consultation with the local community and an iterative process has led to a preferred option […] The Council has now carried out the necessary scheme testing, with local residents [and] the view was expressed that Bramlands would be used to drive and change values across the whole site.” This is misleading at least as at NO TIME has the local area being consulted on the developments of Grant Road/Bramlands, and the public has never been offered any option but a fait-accompli! The view that Bramland could be used for dense and tall buildings is the sole view of Wandsworth Council with NO CONSULTATION.
We would appreciate Wandsworth Council to stop spreading misleading information and for once organise a honest consultation on the basis of a real choice of options for the area, including Grant Road and Bramlands.
The Department for Transport is still safeguarding Grant Road
On March 24th, the government updated plans to protect the proposed route for Crossrail 2 from conflicting development. The updated safeguarded route published extends from Wimbledon in the south-west to Tottenham Hale and New Southgate in the north-east. Under the new Crossrail 2 safeguarding directions, relevant planning applications in safeguarded areas will be referred to TfL for advice. If development interferes with Crossrail 2, either a compromise will be reached or the development will not be allowed.
Following a 10-week consultation (between 20 November 2014 and 29 January 2015), the government and TfL have made some modifications to the proposed safeguarded route, including at Wandsworth Common (to avoid digging a shaft inside the Common land).
While the majority of comments received were opposing the area of surface interest (AOSI) sites on Wandsworth Common and Trinity Fields in Wandsworth (3,728 responses), which explains also that 80% of the total responses (4,038) came from Wandsworth: respondents stressed the importance of these green spaces in their community, it is noticeable that only 1 response expressed concerns regarding Grant Road: the above submission from Wandsworth Council. It speaks for itself on the level of involvement from the local resident, especially when you think than more than 3000 responses were received for other areas in the borough.
Based on the comments made in the consultation, and TfL’s changes to the proposed route, the Secretary of State has decided not to amend the option to safeguard the site at Grant Road/Bramlands for Crossrail2 access to Clapham Junction station.
Filed under: Winstanley&York Road
Planning outrage doesn’t happen only in Wandsworth, and here is an example of developers’ cow-boys hand-in-glove with Lambeth Council .
Author: WPR Residents Group
How would you feel if you were violently SHAKEN awake at 06:30 one cold December morning to find your home trembling uncontrollably?!
“We thought we were in the middle of an earthquake… My whole body was shaking right through to my teeth… the constant movement of our houses and pneumatic drilling sounds made it too unbearable for us to stay home during the day”.
[Homeowners whose garden backs onto the site.]
It wasn’t an earthquake but large monstrous diggers furiously tunnelling 12 foot deep trenches inches away from their back garden walls belonging to a small Streatham Hill community.
Hambridge Homes aka Greennow owned by father and son duo Michael and James Overton hadn’t bothered serving party wall notices, claiming they weren’t building close enough to our homes to warrant this. A complete untruth as the complete collapse of 3 brick garden walls showed as well as the photographs we took.
Lambeth Council disregarded right to information
“Many of us contacted Lambeth, who point blank refused to give us any information about what was going on. Unfortunately for them this is friendly community and most of us speak to each other. We quickly found that Lambeth were telling each resident that called in that no one else had complained, this despite us knowing for a fact that 11 people had called the council. We decided to pool our resources and formed Wyatt Park Road Residents Group and act as a unit.” [WRP Residents]
And things got progressively worse. Both Hambridge Homes and Lambeth council continually disregarded their legal statutory rights and treated them with disdain, disrespect, quite frankly like something they’d stepped in by accident. The most recent SMACK in the face delivered to them by the Overtons came a few weeks ago.
“The Overtons don’t give an FF about the Party Wall Act or any other planning laws for that matter… They seem to believe their relationship with Lambeth gives them carte blanche to do whatever they please?!”
A few weeks ago – March 2015 – without prior notification and despite residents expressly telling them to leave their walls alone Hambridge Homes bricked up ALL their back garden wall doorways and placed brutally ugly grey concrete blocks capping on top of their walls.
No development notification given
Not one of us on Wyatt Park Road, Daysbrook Road or Wavertree Road were contacted about Hambridge Homes plans. No notices were put up, no one received a letter and nothing was placed in the South London Press. Although as a result of our complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman some ‘shady’ photos magically appeared.
Prior to the Ombudsman enquiry Lambeth had been unable to produce any photographic evidence of lamp post notifications. (Chuka Umunna told us that ALL lamp posts locations can be identified by the numbers on them). Lambeth couldn’t provide any proof to us, or to the BBC investigation and we’ve even seen an email between 2 Lambeth planning employees stating they had no clue where such evidence might be found and yet miraculously an out of focus, without context, without date or time non-digital photo was ‘found’ for the ombudsman.
Strange Lambeth couldn’t provide digital evidence as each year they issue over 200, 000 digital photos for the parking tickets they hand out. Just where did Lambeth find a non-digital camera as literally every single PCN has an accompanying digital photograph? Are Lambeth even allowed to take non digital photos as evidence and how would they be stored?
Lambeth council and Hambridge Homes appear to be close allies
Hambridge Homes currently have at least 46 ongoing developments in Lambeth alone. We say at least because 2 weeks ago we discovered Fawcett Close, an additional development i.e. one left off the list given to us in response to our FOI (Freedom Of Information) request asking how many other developments the Overtons had in Lambeth.
Lambeth ignored legislation and guidelines
We feel this to be the reason Lambeth illegally bulldozed planning permission through, plunge us into darkness, removed their children’s privacy, denied them their rights and knocked £50k off the price of their homes.
We believe Lambeth did not inform us of their plans because they feared we’d oppose them, so instead opted to ignore legislation and guidelines and sneak things through and then lie about it. None of us were not informed so we did not get the opportunity to fully scrutinise the planned development.
Do Lambeth really expect people to believe that we were ALL asleep at the wheel, that we ALL missed notices on lamp posts, would have ignored letters written to them by Lambeth council proposing a plan turning their homes into a dark prison and knocking £50k off their house value…?
This is not a communist country where governments move people around, flatten villages and impose concrete blocks as they please. This is England, where we have rights! Lambeth illegally stripped us of our right to challenge their decision when they decided against making us aware of Hambridge Homes development plans.
This is the very first time I’ve heard anything about this says local MP
We contacted our local MP Chuka Umunna, who though happily traipses along to TV studios all over the country to seemingly speak on every political programme who asks. It took dozens of phonecalls, emails and constant badgering to persuade Mr. Umunna to walk a few metres down the road from his office to attend one of our meetings or visit the abhorrent site….? When he arrived he was visibly shocked at what we were expected to live with?
“If constituents had known about a development this intense beforehand I would have expected a deluge of complaints… This is the very first time I’ve heard anything about this…”
We contacted Eric Pickles, Jeremy Clyne our then local councillor and Lambeth’s chief Executive Derick Anderson. We also contacted the newly elected councillors, Iain Simpson, Rezina Chowdhury and Liz Atkins, who made all the right noises prior to gaining office but once in ignored our emails.
After an extremely protracted period of time we managed to get an extraordinarily incomplete response to our FOI. Literally no one is helping us. We are legally entitled to light under British law and privacy under European Human Rights legislation.
Lambeth claims to have sent notices that nobody has seen
1 – Lambeth claimed to have sent 325 letters to people in the surrounding flats. Yet not one person in any of the houses on the roads surrounding the site received any notification. We know this for a fact because we literally knocked on EVERY SINGLE door on Daysbrook Road, Wyatt Park Road, Wavertree Road as well as the affected flats/houses on Streatham Hill. Not one person was notified via letter or saw any of the six notices Lambeth claim – retrospectively to have posted on lamp posts. There should be a mail merge available for inspection but ….no…?
These roads comprise of a number of retired professionals and those raising families. Definitely not the sort of people to ignore something this significant that would so negatively impact on their lives.
2 – Lambeth claim to have posted 6 notices in the area. Again not one person in any of the roads surrounding the development saw literally any of the notices they say they posted. Extremely odd, because as a community we make a point of talking about all the notices we see put up and have been quite alarmed at the fact that Lambeth have got into the habit of posting ‘retrospective’ notices. We’ve asked Lambeth for copies of the notices and to identify exactly where these notices were placed, they’ve declined to answer.
3 – Lambeth claim to have put a notification in the local press. We’ve asked the council to identify the date and the newspaper it was placed in. We’re still waiting for them to respond directly to this question.
The development is a Health & Safety hazard
The development is a Health & Safety hazard in that the local fire brigade found that should there be a fire, there is not enough space for their engines to attend as there’s no way they can turn in the allotted space. Lambeth’s way around this is to say it’s up to the developer to sort out…
The unbearable noise from the Wavertree building site! This makes it impossible for anyone to be in their homes during the day. They’ve undoubtedly caused permanent structural damage to our houses. We’re literally centimetres away from the site and feel the foundations of our homes shake right through to our bones daily. We can feel our entire houses shaking in an extremely unnerving way – and possible permanent damage to the foundations of OUR homes?!
Unfortunately for reasons best known to Hambridge Homes and Lambeth Borough council both parties have steadfastly failed to make full complete plans of any description available to us. We need full structural plans so that we can make the necessary calculations re: our right to light, to determine whether the developer has stuck to the plans agreed in 2011* or made substantial changes without informing us i.e. residents with properties on adjoining land; and thirdly so we know exactly what will be on the other side of our garden walls once Hambridge Homes depart from the site. They’ve had 13 companies in the last 3 years. They dissolve the limited companies associated with the builds once they’ve sold the properties and move on…
We are not willing to accept this THREE STOREY HIGH development in our back gardens, with windows looking directly into the bedrooms of OUR children and overlooking balconies and completely block ALL our natural light..? It will also take away all our privacy…
The case is before the Royal Courts of Justice
Well enough’s enough on the 9th of April 2015 we took our grievances to the Royal Courts of Justice and as litigants in person submitted papers for a Judicial Review. The judge has got back to us saying she needs more information from Lambeth before deciding whether our case warrants a full Judicial review.
Help and support our right to fight
Our situation could end up at the European Court of Human Rights!
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Filed under: Miscellaneous
Author: Cyril Richert
PCS (Public and Commercial Services Union) at Clapham Junction is no longer planning to sell its building immediately. A plan was revealed last November for PCS to ask for a change of use (from office to residential), in order to maximise the value of the site. As expected in our article, PCS was in fact planning to sell to a developer, for them to knock down the building and erect residential towers (most likely, as Wandsworth’s officers are currently considering favourably all towers between 25-30 storeys – even in location when their own planning documents say they are inappropriate).
However, with Crossrail 2 plans coming into shape (including a hub proposed for Clapham Junction station) the potential developer decided to pull out, considering the uncertainty of the current situation. On their website, PCS published an update:
We have previously reported to branches that the NEC had agreed the sale of the Clapham Junction building and that discussions with a major developer were at an advanced stage.
There have been recent developments in the process of consultation over the route of Crossrail 2, a major infrastructure project involving tunnelled rail connections across the capital.
This has introduced additional uncertainty both for the current developer, who planned to knock down the building and rebuild, and for PCS, as it is also clear that the value of the building could increase significantly if the Crossrail 2 project goes ahead.
We do not now intend to proceed immediately with the sale but will take further advice, including advice on realising the potential value of the union’s building in Victoria, which is currently rented to tenants, as part of our longer term planning.
Filed under: Clapham Junction