Do and do not: two residential developments in the area

Author: Cyril Richert

Do and do not: two residential developments in the area

7 Mossbury Road SW11

The 6 residential units planned beside Travelodge Hotel in Mossbury Road are nearly completed. It was designed to integrate with the existing Victorian terrace houses of the street and, albeit having only one entrance and extension at the back, it will look like 2 similar houses. The building will comprise 3 x 1 bedroom and 3 x 2 bedroom flats over three floors.

Although part of the same development as the Travelodge hotel (the new residential units are located on Woburn House’s former car-park, now replaced by Travelodge) the residential unites were designed to harmonise gently with the rest of the street and to match the existing Victorian houses  (dated from late 19th century!).

Although located in a residential street of the same area, with similar Victorian terrace houses, a comparison with the newly approved building in 4-8 Hafer Road can only highlight the major criticism that we raised on the latest one: a very imposing building, out of context within the Victorian-style of the surrounding and which will harm the amenity of nearby properties.

Do and do not: two residential developments in the area

4-8 Hafer Road SW11

The Mossbury Road scheme shows however that it would have been possible to build residential units while respecting the character of the area.

Filed under: Clapham Junction, New Hotel Falcon Road Do and do not: two residential developments in the area

The heart of Battersea

Author: Cyril Richert

The heart of Battersea

There is now a sign erected over the exit from Clapham Junction Station telling everyone that they are in Clapham Junction, (SW11, Battersea), and not in Clapham (SW4, Lambeth borough). And it even lights up at night, so train users always know where they are!

We all need to thank Philip Beddows and  the Love Battersea campaign who have been chasing up all those shops and organisations which misplaced the location of Clapham Junction in Clapham, instead of Battersea since… September 2005! They started campaigning specifically for a sign with this wording 5 years ago.

One of the major victory in December 2011 was with Google map correcting  its data and putting Clapham at the location where it is, and not in the middle of Battersea on top of our town centre Clapham Junction. Since then the campaign managed to register many other success such as Asda renaming it shop “ASDA Clapham Junction, Battersea” (despite evidence, Asda decided first to hold a ballot to decide if they were in Clapham or Battersea!) or Travelodge Hotel beside Clapham Junction station first advertising their location as Clapham.

Recently we spotted a similar error in Topps Tiles advertising for their new shop in St John’s Hill. The shop had actually responded to earlier notification and already corrected the mistake.

Clapham Junction takes its name from the famous railway station. The first station opening in 1863 was called Falcon Bridge but later changed name for “Clapham Junction”, as in the mid 19th century the area of Clapham was seen as much more attractive.

Filed under: Clapham Junction The heart of Battersea

Another large advertising board for Clapham Junction

Author: Cyril Richert

Another large advertising board for Clapham JunctionPlanning Application 2014/0492 has been submitted for a (temporary) large, externally illuminated advertising hoarding at Clapham Junction, this time for the outside of Wessex House (St John’s Hill).

Temporary advertising board to cover scaffolding on Wessex House

The display of an illuminated hoarding is planned on scaffolding shroud (6.8m high, 14.6m wide and 20cm deep) for a period of one year. It won’t be digital, but illuminated with overhead lamps.

The Wessex House has been let for 10 years to the Grand, and a scaffolding will be erected to inspect the façade and the roof, which certainly needs work. Several phases are planned, which requires first to inspect the building, carry the necessary repair and then cleaning, restoring and refurbishing the Wessex House building. The advertising board on top of the scaffolding would allow to raise more cash to contribute to the refurbishment.

Two proposals to erect large digital advertising board beside the Revolution Bar at the Junction and beside Asda on Lavender Hill have been withdrawn last autumn.

Although different from the previous application at the Junction, it must be noted that the site façade (and therefore the proposed advertising board) will be adjoining the Clapham Junction Conservation Area. In addition the structure supporting the advertising board will come forward as the building upper floors step backward from the street frontage.

A previous similar plan in Putney Hight Street

The Council pointed out a previous application for a similar proposal (13m tall, 12m wide) for 10 months on a scaffolding in Putney High Street, that was allowed after appeal. The decision considered that it was not creating a distraction for the traffic as to endanger the road users, and the zone being brightly lit at night, it won’t be a problem in a “busy, urban, commercial environment“. The judge justified his choice between the debris screened scaffolding and the temporary advertisement as appropriate measure  to speed up the work on the frontage.

As for Putney, conditions to restrict the illumination to some hours (for example 4pm -11pm) and for a maximum period could be set. A different type/size of advertising should also be preferred, or no advertising at all.

Northcote councillors said in their newsletter that they will be opposing this application as being inappropriate in the Clapham Junction conservation area and town centre. The Wandsworth Conservation Area Advisory Committee has decided to object too.

You can send your comments on the Council’s website (P.A. 2014/0492).

Filed under: Clapham Junction Another large advertising board for Clapham Junction

4-8 Hafer Road redevelopment approval is a huge disappointment for neighbourhood

Authors: Cyril Richert with Hafer Road residents

4-8 Hafer Road redevelopment approval is a huge disappointment for neighbourhood

A scheme proposing to replace a few 3 storey small residential blocks in the style of former council houses, with a modern 4 storey building has been approved two weeks ago by Wandsworth Council.

The existing building is 8 units – 4 2 storey maisonettes and 4 single storey 1 bedroom apartments with balcony walkway. Each maisonette has a front garden (2m x 3m) and back garden (varying in length, average 9m x 4m).

In the summer of 2012, the existing residents of 4-8 Hafer Road bought the freehold of their building from Wandsworth council for under £40,000 and formed a company which 7 of the resident owners are directors. They approached developers to design a new building with 21st century architecture and facilities, and that would allow them to sell additional units from the new block to clear all remaining debt of the residents and make the developer a +20% profit.

The architects hired to design the new building are well known for utilising maximum space to achieve maximum living space with no regard for green space or local character. The design submitted to Wandsworth Planning Committee is the following:

  1. Demolition of the existing building
  2. Construction of 16 units including 2 x 4 bedrooms, 4 x 3 bedroom and 8 x 2 bedrooms

Strong objection from the neighbourhood and amenity groups

The Clapham Junction Action Group objected to the development saying:

“The total footprint of the construction will be more than 3 times as much as the current dwellings. As a consequence it will be very imposing and with a quite different style to the Victorian terrace houses that characterize the rest of the area.”

They also strongly supported the objection of the Battersea Society which said that “the design of the frontage remains out of keeping with its neighbours with obtrusive balconies in particular introducing a jarring note“.

The Clapham Junction Action Group and the Battersea Society were supported by about 40 households in the direct vicinity who also objected to the new design.

Local residents pointed out that there was no reference to the lack of an independent parking survey from the Applicant. There will be a massive impact on parking from the extra households/residents on such a small street exacerbated by the rack of Boris Bikes planned on an adjacent road.

Another issue was the lack of independent Light Assessment (one resident at 10 Hafer road claimed that the assessment submitted on behalf of the Applicants sanctions a 40% loss of light in their kitchen!).

The neighbours said:

The Company of Architects used are based in Kings Cross and their plans are for a high density build far more suitable to an inner urban area where space is less valued or available.

Almost 40 local households wrote objections to the design on the Council’s Planning Application website. There were 30 comments in support, with many of them from Clapham South.

Local neighbourhood disappointed over the Council’s planning process

The Council’s communication of the process of the application, how to object, make comments, and the process of decision making has been pathetic, with many residents being left in the dark about the situation and even when the planning committee meeting was or how to get local council to support their concerns.

The Monday before the planning committee meeting on Thursday, some of the local residents discovered, by accident, that the meeting was in 4 days time. The local residents formed an action group and door knocked local residents asking them to partition their ward councillors to attend the meeting on their behalf and express their concerns.

An article in the Wandsworth Guardian described the huge disappointment of the neighbours:

“Neighbours said they were left disappointed after their ward councillors declined to speak on their behalf during the committee meeting.

Requests were sent to Councillor Peter Dawson, Councillor Jenny Browne and Councillor Martin Johnson for help but the councillors said all they would do is pass on their emails to the committee members.

The councillors defended their actions pointing out ward members can only give short statements at meetings, are unable to participate in discussions and cannot vote.

During the meeting, four councillors asked questions and agreed that the development was oversized. Cllr Belton (Labour) thought that the ‘castellated’ design might break up the acknowledged mass density of the build. They did not consider how a flat, squared (rather than pitched ) roof at increased height would further add to the mass imposition of the structure.

At the end, only Cllr Heaster (Conservatives) voted against the proposal.

There were 3 council officers who were supporting their report but they couldn’t provide any photos or models; they didn’t even have the correct number to hand on how much bigger the development is.

Eight of the residents were holding banners against the proposal at the meeting, which attracted laugh from some committee members. After the meeting, the residents of Hafer Road mocked those residents who objected to the building.

Post meeting, those residents who are opposed to the design are pursuing other angles of action including obtaining legal advice.

Filed under: Clapham Junction 4-8 Hafer Road redevelopment approval is a huge disappointment for neighbourhood

Accessibility around Clapham Junction: can do better

Author: Jacqui Bowers

I find it quite shocking that Blacks have just undergone a major refit and ignoring any access for wheelchair users and people with buggies.

Accessibility around Clapham Junction: can do better

Outdoor Clothes Blacks’ entrance in St John’s Rd

For Clapham Junction station, it is brilliant to have lift access to all platforms and this has transformed wheelchair users in accessing rail transport. It is equally illogical that there is no information for wheelchair users or people with buggies or heavy luggage to go to Brighton Yard for step-free access.

Accessibility around Clapham Junction: can do better

Photo looking west. No sign of any information for wheelchair users. February 2014.

Accessibility around Clapham Junction: can do better

Photo looking east. No sign of any information for wheelchair users. February 2014.

The only downside of using Brighton Yard entrance is to go up St John’s Hill over a cobbled-stone pathway. Cobble-stones present another problem for wheelchair users.

UPDATE 23/02/14: We have received the following tweet from Blacks:

Filed under: Clapham Junction Accessibility around Clapham Junction: can do better

Exemplar scheme on St John’s Road: pavement and speed limit

Author: Jacqui Bowers

After 6 months of disruption to local businesses and residents, St John’s Road now has new pavement, which, thanks to the heavy rain is looking much better than back in September 2013.

Exemplar scheme on St John’s Road: pavement and speed limit

Photo taken outside TKMaxx in September 2013

However, now chewing gum litters the pavement…

Exemplar scheme on St John’s Road: pavement and speed limit

Photos taken outside NatWest Bank in February 2014

Read our previous articles:

The pedestrian crossing has gone and been replaced by two ‘raised/paved’ areas.

There is a safety issue regarding crossing the road with young children as the traditional curb has been replaced by ribbed paving stones.

Exemplar scheme on St John’s Road: pavement and speed limit

20 Mph speed limit sign. Photo taken outside F Hinds February 2014

This perhaps is not such an issue with the 20 mph speed limit, but at present, the traffic is travelling at speeds greater than 20mph.

Exemplar scheme on St John’s Road: pavement and speed limit

Photo taken outside NatWest Bank, showing that many vehicles are using St John’s Road and ignoring the traffic restrictions. February 2014

Filed under: Clapham Junction Exemplar scheme on St John’s Road: pavement and speed limit

Why are pubs closing so fast?

Author: Julia Matcham

Why are pubs closing so fast?

Campaigners outside The Wheatsheaf – Wandsworth Guardian 20/08/2013

In our area alone, The Galleon, 2 Lavender Road; the Pine Tavern, 69 Plough Road; the Queen Victoria, 82 Falcon Road and the Somers Arms, 2a Rochelle Close are four examples of pubs near Clapham Junction that have been demolished and replaced by housing developments over the last 15 years.

The Duke of Wellington, 105 Meyrick Road has been converted to flats as has the Haberdashers Arms, 47 Calvert Road. Permission has just been granted by Wandsworth Council for demolition of the Battersea Bar (originally the Chopper) at 58 York Road and a stone’s throw from Sambrook’s Brewery and its replacement by a residential block with commercial use on the ground floor.

Chatham Road, a road that had 5 pubs 100 years ago, now has only one since the ‘Gardeners Arms’ has been recently replaced by an expensive block of flats + commercial use.

An application for development in place of the Prince of Wales 186 Battersea Bridge Road has just been refused. No doubt they will be back so sign the petition!

The very popular ‘The Castle’, with its large enjoyable garden, in Battersea High Street lost its fight despite 700 people fighting for it for 12 months. It will be demolished and turned into a 4 storey block. According to English Heritage, there has been a pub on The Castle’s site since the 17th Century.

Asset of Community Value gives local community the right to (try to) purchase

The Wheatsheaf in Tooting is fighting for its life. After a fierce campaign by local people the Council has agreed to give The Wheatsheaf an AVC (Asset of Community Value) which gives members of the community time to bid to buy the site (a beautiful building too) should it come up for sale.

‘The Localism Act 2011 gives communities with a local connection a right to identify properties which, if they came up for sale, they would want to try and purchase. The legislation does not give a right to buy the property in question – but it does give potential bidders the time to put a proposal together.

The AVC is a tiny concession that buys time but is not what the Localism Bill was sold to us as by the Government. The Localism Bill gives so much power to the Council to place almost impossibly high jumps at every stage of using it, that it is all but useless. And even if the community can raise the money, the owner has no obligation to sell it to them…indeed, an incentive not to, given that the community has just cost the owner time, trouble and profit. I imagine some developer has folded his paws and is cleaning his whiskers while he waits for local people not to be able to afford to buy The Wheatsheaf.

We need our Council to actively defend our interests, to take notice of the results of so-called ‘consultations’ instead of treating local opinion as a bed of nails for the Council must walk over on the way to its own preferred option.

There are 109 fewer pubs in London now than there were six months ago

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camrasaid 253 pubs had opened between the end of 2012 and the first part of 2013, but 362 had closed, meaning four pubs were shutting every week in in London and the south east.

Why ? Is it because people don’t like pubs any more? No, of course not.

The problem is not only down to the Council’s attitude to the loss of amenity, it is also down to the way in which the Pub business has been transformed over the centuries from individually owned hostelries buying beer from local breweries into very big business with Breweries and Banks owning thousands of pubs in huge groups and draining them dry of profit for the benefit of themselves and their shareholders.

Supplies of beer and prices of beer are nearly always tied to specific breweries and companies, and make it impossible for pub managers/ lessees to be competitive with supermarkets and, for that matter one-another. Pubs are also heavily policed by the companies concerned to make sure they are not ‘cheating’. The jolly publican has a hard life these days.

Multiple-held pubs do exist in countries other than the United Kingdom, but due to most countries having different accepted systems of ownership and supply, they do not hold anywhere near the level of control over the market as they do in the UK.

Here in the UK, a mixture of stifled competition leading to low returns both for the companies concerned and the Pub managers/ lessees, combined with a rise in real-estate values leads to ruthless selling-off of our social amenities. Companies exist to make money for their shareholders; pubs are no more important to them than ‘white goods’ or blocks of flats. It’s just money! But for us it is the way we live our lives and we should have some protection of our amenities.

Debate in parliament to create a new statutory code for pubs

But there is some hope. Even Parliament is at last recognising that an abusive system is destroying competition and killing the pub trade.

Kate Mc Cann, a reporter at City A.M, wrote (21Jan2014):

“In a move supported by Labour leader Ed Miliband and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, Toby Perkins [LABOUR’S shadow minister for pubs] will call for a pubs bill to introduce rent reviews, a free-of-tie option to allow landlords to purchase products on the open market, and an independent pubs adjudicator. Perkins said: “The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) estimates that 26 pubs close each week and that each closure costs local economies £80,000. The all-party Business Select Committee has investigated this issue several times and concluded that the unfair and unbalanced relationship between pub companies and their licencees is a huge factor.

The issue has been debated in parliament twice before and in 2012 MPs voted for a code to be introduced, but progress has been slow.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said it would publish a response to its consultation on the code “in due course,” adding: “There has been, and continues to be, a high level of interest in the consultation on pub companies and tenants. The fact that we received over 1,100 written responses and more than 7,000 responses to the online survey demonstrates this.””

However the pub companies are fighting back and blaming it all on the Supermarkets. Take your choice! There is not a lot we can do except sign petitions and make sure our politicians know we are not happy.

>>> Petition to the Government

More detailed information about the Byzantine ways Pubcos work to the disadvantage of the managers/lessees of pubs HERE.

Filed under: Clapham Junction Why are pubs closing so fast?

4-8 Hafer Road plan is out of context for the area

Author: Cyril Richert

On November 14th 2013, we wrote to the Council to submits comments on the proposed redevelopment of 4-8 Hafer Road. We have some sympathy for the current resident who said they wish to redevelop their home and to do so need to redevelop the entire building to pay for their plans with extra units to be sold.

The scheme proposes to replace a few 3 storey small residential blocks in the style of former council houses, with a modern 4 storey building.

4-8 Hafer Road plan is out of context for the area

The proposal is over-developed and completely out of context within the Victorian-style of the surrounding

We are not against the redevelopment of the current houses, and we acknowledge that the proposed building will not be much taller that the houses on one side.

However the total footprint of the construction will be more than 3 times as much as the current dwellings. As a consequence it will be very imposing and with a quite different style to the Victorian terrace houses that characterize the rest of the area. Isn’t it a characteristic of over-development?

We would like to see a reduction in size/footprint of the building, along with a more sympathetic treatment to match the other buildings in the rest of the street (the proposed design elements of the front balconies make it wildly anachronistic within the streetscape). As an example of similar development we can look at Mossbury Road where P.A. 2010/1620 was granted for 6 new units matching in a more sympathetic way the other terrace houses of the street.

In view of the recent amendments and additional visual documents submitted, we are now in a view that this is completely out of context within the Victorian-style of the surrounding. Therefore we join the many local residents to object to this plan.

We support the Battersea Society which strongly objected to the plan with the following arguments:

The proposal is contrary to DMS 1, sections a – d. in that the proposed re-development:

  • Would not integrate well with its surroundings
  • Would not contribute positively to local spatial character. In particular the loss of open space and the design of the building with obtrusive balconies at the front would be to the detriment of the streetscape and to the surrounding area
  • Would harm the amenity of nearby properties. There can be no justification for a new building within a congested area being granted eight parking spaces while providing no off-street parking. It appears there would be over-shadowing and loss of privacy
  • Is unsympathetic to the locality

We think that this modern building does not respect the character of the area in anyway, in addition to having already many characteristics of an over-development. It is odd that this application was not stopped at the consultation level, before to go to planning, and architects and owners encouraged refraining  from this complete new design out of touch with the vicinity.

If you want to comment on the application, this is here.

Filed under: Clapham Junction 4-8 Hafer Road plan is out of context for the area

ASDA: Clapham Junction 2020 retail study by the RSA

Author: Cyril Richert

ASDA: Clapham Junction 2020 retail study by the RSA

Presentation of the RSA 2020 retail report

The RSA presented its report on the future of retail at the horizon of 2020. They argue that building a future retail model which coordinates corporate operations to maximise local social an economic impact will become a key competitive advantage in a decade, in which traditional physical stores are set to experience transition and disruption.

Building on six months of research with three Asda stores (Clapham Junction, Tilbury and Oldham)this Asda funded report sets out the business case and the social drivers of change.

It provides a roadmap for how a large retailer like Asda can evolve to co-produce a future shared value retail model: one that is locally adaptable and supported by corporate organisational strength.

They recommend how retailers can take action to develop a shared value retail model and how Asda can transition, building on the experience gained in their innovative and ambitious Community Life programme, to develop a community venturing function.

In their recommendations for the retail sector they say that the business should undertake community development activities and explore new shared value ventures locally. It sets out the principles for a local autonomy of retail stores and urge them to engage locally.

It could take several forms, such as using the store as a recruitment hub for volunteering, bringing leisure and entertainment activities into stores and car parks, and endowing community trusts with unused assets.

The event featured a panel debate including Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society; Paul Kelly, Asda External Affairs Director; Alana Renner, Deputy Communications Director at the Post Office; Laura Bunt, Head of Policy Research at Citizens Advice; and chaired by Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA. This will be preceded by discussions with Asda employees who champion community engagement, and followed by a Q&A with the panel more generally.

Alana Renner said that the Post Office is currently exploring how to improve their branches to combine more social and commercial success (maybe there is something to do with Asda which is next door!). Paul Kelly said that the business is different from that of 2008 and that the society expectations have changed. Nick Hurd, MP gave 2 advices: 1- be ambitious; 2- be committed to it.

The future will show the shape of the business involvement. The audience raised interesting questions: While the State is withdrawing and the business is profit driven, where can we draw the line? And what happens if local community interest conflicts with local government plans/commercial interest and create tensions?

In any case, we look forward to opportunities to work with Asda Clapham Junction!

The RSA is a 250 year old charity, specialised in public services and organisation. They undertake influential and varied research projects and their work is supported by 27,000 Fellows, an international network of influencers and innovators from every field and background.

Asda Clapham Junction is the largest retail unit in the town centre. They employ 420 people and the supermarket is open 24 h/day from Monday to Saturday 11pm, Sunday 10am-5pm. The RSA worked through interviews of many community stakeholders and a workshop held in the PCS building mid-July 2013.

The RSA report 2020 Retail: Shopping for Shared Value is available for download HERE.

Filed under: Clapham Junction ASDA: Clapham Junction 2020 retail study by the RSA

No active frontage for former Granada building, despite planning

Author: N. Knight

No active frontage for former Granada building, despite planning

Planning application for the former Granada cinema redevelopment  was granted with plans to implement an active frontage with shops along St John’s Hill Road. However, after years of site construction panels, we are left with a long grey painted wooden hoarding, and no active marketing to open any retail unit soon at that place.We have wrote to the Council for their acknowledgement that the former Granada Cinema development has not been built as consented, and for their support that Wandsworth Planning Department will take appropriate measures to ensure the owners of the property do comply with their duties in regard to provision of the retail units fronting St John’s Hill.

Planning & listed building consent were approved on 7th September 2006 (ref: 2005/4544) for the new residential units; the conversion of the auditorium for the use of a church; and to use ancillary space for retail, office & restaurant space.

The image below is the southern elevation facing St John’s Hill, which was received by Wandsworth on 21st June 2010 as part of some general amendments, and clearly shows the open windows on the ground floor for the retail units still remaining.

No active frontage for former Granada building, despite planning

Southern elevation facing St John’s Hill

The planning committee decreed on the 16th February 2006 to grant listed building consent subject to the following conditions, with the 13th condition relating to the retail units, and copied below for your information:

13. Notwithstanding what is shown on the approved drawings details of the new shopfronts fronting St John’s Hill shall be submitted to and approved by the local planning authority prior to commencement of the development hereby approved.

The frontage facing St John’s Hill was described by the projects architect as providing an important addition and enhanced the public realm for the entire development. They also stated that the retail units would provide an active frontage, also considered to be of importance, and no doubt the addition of these units would have swayed the committee.

Alterations to the interior auditorium for the church were approved on 28th July 2011, and included within the application was a ground floor drawing, depicting the retail units fronting St John’s Hill as being protected. On the drawing it states “Future retail unit – subject to separate planning application”. As per the above planning condition, details of the shop fronts must have been approved; otherwise the development could not have commenced. A snippet of this plan is shown below:

No active frontage for former Granada building, despite planning

Ground floor drawing, depicting the retail units fronting St John’s Hill as being protected

Unfortunately these retail units have not been installed as per the planning consent. At no time has the developer actively marketed the units, which would only ever be feasible once the units were completed. The cost of fitting out the units would have been accounted for within the development appraisal (with little or no value applied), and therefore the developer is profiting from non-compliance of these units, and Wandsworth is missing out on business rates, employment and an addition to the local environment.

For too long the St John’s Hill frontage has been a painted wooden hoarding, which detracts from the quality of Clapham Junction town centre, and is wholly unacceptable to this high quality neighbourhood. I would be astounded if the hoarding meets Wandsworth’s stringent design guides, and if there is nothing the Council can do, then it sets a dangerous precedent for other developments.

Wandsworth Council has a duty to ensure that such a visible and prominent development is completed as per the consent, and forces the owners to take action to comply with their own design.

We look forward to hearing from them, and understanding what actions can and will be taken to rectify the situation (a letter on that matter was sent to Wandsworth Council Planning department on Tuesday 17th Dec.).

Filed under: Clapham Junction No active frontage for former Granada building, despite planning