Appeal and new application for 17 storey building at 98 York Road

Author: Cyril Richert

Appeal and new application for 17 storey building at 98 York Road

98 York Road – 17 storeys proposal

An appeal (p.a. 2014/7103) has been lodged at the beginning of July by the developers against Wandsworth Planning Application Committee decision to refuse their plan to redevelop 98 York Road with a podium and buildings up to 17 storeys.

While the appellant are asking for an inquiry, the procedure will be determined by the Planning Inspectorate in accordance with Section 319A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

In addition, the developers have launched a new application (screening exercise stage only this time) for a similar scheme (in bold are exact similar terms in both applications – spot the difference):

EIA Screening Opinion application for: Demolition of existing buildings and erection of buildings up to 17-storeys (three-storey podium with 14-storey, 10-storey, 6-storey and 5 storey towers) to provide car showroom and garage/workshop (Sui Generis) on ground, second and third floors (circa 9,000sq.m. GEA) and 173 residential units above (13,400sq.m. GEA). A basement car park would provide 87 vehicle parking spaces and 184 cycle spaces. (Screening Opinion Application) 

As a reminder, previous application 2014/7103 was proposing:

Erection of a mixed-use development up to 17-storeys to provide car showroom and workshop on ground, first and second floors and 192 residential units (basement car park would provide residents with 87 vehicle and 200 cycle parking spaces + parking spaces for customers on ground floor).

Overall the main difference is a small decrease of residential units (from 192 to now 173) and increase of cycle space (from 184 to now 200).

We fail to understand the need for such a screening opinion while a very similar plan was refused by the Council and while the developers are already appealing on the rejection.

However we also note that the Council approved a scheme of several buildings up to 21 storey next door (198 York Road), which undoubtedly weaken the arguments used to justify the rejection, as they were saying :

“proposed massing and design by reason of the density of the development would constitute an unneighbourly form of development that would result in an unacceptable level of harm to the amenities of the occupants of neighbouring properties through overlooking and loss of privacy”

It seems that the main reason why the Conservative member approved one scheme and rejected the other is that developers of 98 York Road were not cynical ingenious enough to offer the relocation of a similar asset as the Royal Academy of Dance (of course some would say also that as it was presented before the May general election, Tory councillors did not want to alienate the voters…), which would have been the key element to ignore all breach of policy, objections of neighbourhood and harm to the amenities.

Filed under: Clapham Junction Appeal and new application for 17 storey building at 98 York Road

The Council requires the façade of the Alchemist pub to be rebuilt

Author: Cyril Richert

The Council has refused a retrospective planning consent to demolish the façade of the former Fishmonger/Alchemist pub (planning application  2015/2762) on Tuesday 21st July. The Alchemist pub, located at 225 St John’s Hill, was nearly totally demolished last month, without planning consent (see our story HERE).

The Council requires the façade of the Alchemist pub to be rebuilt

According to the Council’s press release:

“The council responded to this unlawful demolition by launching enforcement action requiring the developer to rebuild it brick-by-brick.

A subsequent attempt to circumvent the enforcement action by obtaining retrospective permission has today (Tuesday) been rejected.

Planners ruled that the developer’s application should be refused because the loss of this important local landmark and prominent historic building in the conservation area would be against the public interest.

The developer will now be required to start work on rebuilding the pub and restoring it to its original condition. “

The Council requires the façade of the Alchemist pub to be rebuilt

In a recent email exchange [21/07/2015], Planning chairman Cllr Sarah McDermott said:

“I spoke to our officers yesterday about the Alchemist/Fishmongers Arms. They are currently seeking legal advice to ensure they have a secure base for the right action. I can assure we are all ‘on the case’.”

In the press release she added:

“In our view the demolition was a very serious breach of planning rules which can only be put right by the complete rebuilding and reconstruction of this important community asset, using the same materials and to the same architectural design.”

As a consequence, it is likely that the developer will have to submit anew application for further amendment to the rest of the building, which means that former planning consent could be re-discussed and amended.

Filed under: Clapham Junction The Council requires the façade of the Alchemist pub to be rebuilt

Soon a new 4 storey building to compliment crossing at Plough Rd/St Johns Hill

Author: Cyril Richert

Soon a new 4 storey building to compliment crossing at Plough Rd/St Johns Hill

Application 2013/5712 (70-74 St John’s Hill) was granted in April 2015 for erection of four-storey plus basement building to provide Class A1 shops at ground floor with 8 flats above including a first floor roof garden.

It should replace an openspace/pocket park and match in shape the three other existing buildings at the crossing of St john’s Hill and Plough Road.

Original application dated 2009 (granted in approval 2010/0537 dated 15
November 2010), but the work has been delayed for two main reasons:

  • The negotiation with Wandsworth Valuation Surveyors to purchase the part of the pavement Planners wish to see incorporated in the development to realign Plough Road to its original line and
    St John’s Hill as far as later road widening permits.
  • Having agree this in principle and progressed to a stopping up order, there was the discovery that a Virgin Media cabinet is situated in the part of land to be sold to the development. Negotiations are in progress which have not yet been resolved and until resolved the development cannot progress.

Hopefully we should see some progress made towards the second part of 2015.

Filed under: Clapham Junction Soon a new 4 storey building to compliment crossing at Plough Rd/St Johns Hill

Scheme with a 21 storey tower recommended for approval at Homebase site, 198 York road

Author: Cyril Richert

Scheme with a 21 storey tower recommended for approval at Homebase site, 198 York road

As expected, planning application 2015/0881 to demolish Homebase on 198 York Road, and replace by 6, 7, 9, 11 and 21 storeys to provide 254 residential units, has been recommended for approval by planning officers.

Amendment was received comprising the replacement of the commercial uses for a dance academy at ground floor level with additional floor space and an increase in height to the buildings (thus 21 storeys instead of 20). 

As usual now, the Site Specific Allocation Document (page 234) was ignored:

10.4 Homebase,York Road, SW11
Tall Buildings: In accordance with Core Strategy Policy IS3d, tall buildings in this location are likely to be inappropriate. In accordance with DMPD Policy DMS4, the height at which a development in this location will be considered to be tall is 9 storeys.

However, in their report, the planning officers justify the breach of policy as “this taller scheme can be supported from a strategic perspective subject to demonstrating significant planning benefit” (p25).

Although the officers point that these proposals run counter to Council policies, a point also made by the Design Review Panel, the seem to leave the general issue in the hand of the Planning Inspector currently reviewing Wandsworth local plan. And it is not only only noted in one sentence over the 80 page report, but the decision on granting the permission is meant to happen on the 14th July, when the local plan examination hearing has not finished yet but months ahead of any opinion that the inspector could possibly express!

The Wandsworth Design Review Panel expressed concerns talking about:

No convincing reason was offered as to why the Council’s stated policy should be ignored. […] too ambitious […] exuberant design […] unresolved issues about the public realm to this street

and concluded “the Panel did not feel minded to support the proposal as it stands“.

To spare you reading the 80 pages, I would summarize on saying that all issues and breach of policies have been brushed off with the benefits of the venue provided for the Royal Academy of Dance (currently located in Battersea Square). In what looks like a copy-cat of the developer’s advertising brochure, the officers’ report says : “The RAD as an occupier would undoubtedly add lustre to the area and could provide the centrepiece for a new cultural district attracting visitors and further investment to this part of the borough“.

Therefore, while we are supportive of the development of this site and of the move of the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) to this site, we maintain our earlier objections to the scheme.


Filed under: Clapham Junction Scheme with a 21 storey tower recommended for approval at Homebase site, 198 York road

The Alchemist Pub demolished without planning consent

Author: Cyril Richert

The Alchemist Pub demolished without planning consent

The Alchemist pub, located at 225 St John’s Hill, was nearly totally demolished last month, without planning consent.

The Evening Standard wrote:

“The Victorian pub, near Clapham Junction station, was open for more than 100 years before it closed in 2013 and fell derelict. It was pulled down in May by a developer hoping to extend it and build a block of flats.

It is the second case this year of a historic London pub being reduced to rubble apparently without full planning permission, after the destruction of the Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale in April. […]

The three-storey building was originally known as the Fishmonger’s Arms before being renamed the Alchemist and briefly the Stencil Bar.”

The Alchemist Pub demolished without planning consent

Developer Udhyam Amim claimed that the building was unsafe and that although they did not have consent to demolish the façade, the frontage crumbled while they were demolishing the rear.

They have now applied for a retrospective planning consent to demolish the façade: 2015/2762 – 225 St John’s Hill – demolish existing 3 storey building. The Heritage statement says:

“The building was to be partly demolished in accordance with Planning approval 2009/2994. During this phase of the works the structure was found to be of such poor quality and structurally unsafe that the only option was to demolish it immediately. However the proposed development will reinstate the front façade as closely as possible to the original albeit that the façade will be extended the full width of the site. Detailed measurements have been recorded and important original elements have been safely stored so that the original building details can be replicated.”

However we found several flows within the planning application. First of all, in the current retrospective, they are only talking about the demolition of the top part of the façade. You can clearly see on the photo at the top of this article that a major part has been also demolished on the left hand side. Although it was probably necessary to conduct the necessary construction work, this should be mentioned in the document.

The Alchemist Pub demolished without planning consent

In addition, the original planning consent granted permission on 11 January 2010 and valid for 3 years. The demolition took place in June 2015, clearly out of the 3 years period which would have expired in January 2013.

Although planning officers confirmed recently that the 2009 planning application was in fact valid as they notified of the start of works in 2013 (and nothing happened before 2015!) but never applied for consent to demolish. In our view, a full new planning permission should therefore have been requested to start any construction work on the site.

As quoted by the Morning Advertiser, Planning chairman councillor Sarah McDermott said:

“We are treating this as a very serious breach of planning rules, which we believe can only be put right by the complete rebuilding and reconstruction of this important community asset, using the same materials and to the same architectural design.

This building is an integral part of the St John’s Hill Grove conservation area and its loss will be keenly felt by local people. That’s why we are determined to take action to ensure it’s restored for future generations.”

We would strongly support any action which the Council sees fit to pursue in enforcing the reinstatement of the building in a satisfactory way. In addition it should be noted that – as the 2010 planning permission as expired – the developers do not have any permission for redevelopment in this site at the moment.

You will notice that the National Planning Policy Framework (2012) says:

“130. Where there is evidence of deliberate neglect of or damage to a heritage asset the deteriorated state of the heritage asset should not be taken into account in any decision.”

A new planning consent should be submitted and if needs be the original building should be rebuilt.

Filed under: Clapham Junction The Alchemist Pub demolished without planning consent

Minon Madness at Asda Clapham Junction

London’s Asda Clapham Junction store has held Minions language lessons using a motion activated themed checkout, complete with Minion themed bananas.

To celebrate the launch of the new Minions movie, the store created the checkout, which surprised shoppers by shouting out memorable Minion sounds as they passed through.

Colleagues at the store then repeated the phrases, saving their best for when any Minion-themed BANANAS were purchased (pictured above).

Shoppers’ reactions to the checkout were filmed with the best efforts shared on social media.

Clapham Junction store manager, Glenn Ries, said: “We know our customers love Minions but to truly be despicable you need to speak the language, that’s why we created our checkout to help people understand the difference between their Bob, and their bananas.

Asda Clapham Junction launches Minion Checkout

MinionLondon’s Asda Clapham Junction store launches a motion activated Minions themed checkout, which will surprise shoppers this weekend, to celebrate the launch of the new movie. The supermarket will see a Minions take-over and there will be limited edition Minion bananas, and themed balloons for customers.

When: Friday 26th June and Saturday 27th June, 8am-4pm.

Where: Asda Clapham Junction, 204 Lavender Hill, Battersea, SW11 1JG.

Big Fat Panda trendy night club permission refused

Author: Cyril Richert

Big Fat Panda trendy night club permission refused

281 Lavender Hill SW11 1LP – Big Fat Panda

On Tuesday 19th May, the Licensing sub-committee refused the application from Grand Union to transform Big Fat Panda restaurant into a bar/night-club. 

Councillors Peter Dawson and James Cousins, along with 3 local residents raised numerous concerns highlighting the inadequacy of the proposal.

The report from the officers counted 61 objections made, including 3 letters from Ward Councillors (one on behalf of all the Ward Councillors of Shaftesbury and Northcote Wards). They raised concerns regarding street drinking and alcohol related disorder, anti-social behaviour, crime and loitering of patrons outside the proposed premises, increased risk of violence to customers both inside and outside the venue, noise (deliveries, arriving and leaving, external area)…etc.

Despite the applicants prepared to make several amendments such as reducing capacity from 500 to 385, using the outside area for smokers only, closing at 1.30am instead of 3.3oam, they faced strong opposition during the meeting. In the minutes of the meeting it is noted that:

  • Police were opposed to the application in its entirety
  • The Residential Services Manager – Environmental Services (Council) said that he was opposed to any extension of hours beyond the guideline hours.
  • Councillor Cousins said that the area was heavily residential [and] not a suitable venue for this part of Lavender Hill.

The decision said:

“The Sub-Committee considered that given the scale of what was proposed the granting the licence, even as amended, would in their view create an unacceptable level of noise nuisance both during the evening and late at night to neighbouring residents.”

Planning application withdrawn

A planning application 2015/1597 from Grand Union bars was proposing a change of use from A3 (restaurant and cafe) to A4 use (drinking establishment), including use of garden, area until late nights, with music and DJs, at the location currently occupied by the Big Fat Panda, a Chinese buffet restaurant. With the licensing application refused, Grant Union withdrew its planning application.

Residents felt very well and effectively represented and were delighted by the outcome. However this isn’t necessarily the end of it all. Grand Union can still appeal and possibly reapply for the drinks license later, lowering the opening hours or the number of customers (although the Council said that even 50% was still unacceptable).

We support the local residents thinking that the location is not suitable at all for this kind of business. Instead it could be used for a café/family oriented area, in line with its surrounding.


Filed under: Clapham Junction Big Fat Panda trendy night club permission refused

How is Clapham Junction changing…

Author: Cyril Richert

When you think about it, little has changed in Clapham Junction for the past 10 years (although the Council is planning to fill the area with many more high towers).

However taking advantage of the “history” option in Google map, we can see the two main changes in the area since 2008 and get our own opinion on the positive (or negative) impact of the new schemes.

Woburn House/Travelodge Hotel site

How is Clapham Junction changing…

Woburn House October 2009

How is Clapham Junction changing…

Travelodge Hotel – September 2014

Clapham Junction Exemplar Scheme

How is Clapham Junction changing…

Clapham Junction crossing October 2009

How is Clapham Junction changing…

Clapham Junction crossing September 2014

Filed under: Clapham Junction How is Clapham Junction changing…

Bye Bye Homebase, welcome 20 storey buildings

Author: Cyril Richert

Bye Bye Homebase, welcome 20 storey buildings

Proposed development for 198 York Road (currently Homebase)

Planning application 2015/0881 and 2015/0934 is proposing to demolish Homebase on 198 York Road, to be replaced by 3 part 2,6,7,9,11 and 20 storey buildings to provide 261 residential units and 2000 sqm of business, bar and nursery space. Homebase  is due to close at the end of 2015 and will be vacated for the proposed development.

Bye Bye Homebase, welcome 20 storey buildings

Current 3D view of the site.

Bye Bye Homebase, welcome 20 storey buildings

Proposed 3D view of the site.

The dwellings should comprise 4 studios, 48 one bedroom-flats, 133 two bedroom-flats, 46 three bedroom-flats and 30 maisonettes styles (1 and 2 bedrooms).

Planning rules suggest maximum 9 storeys… therefore submit 20!

Knowing as Wandsworth Council is considering its planning policies, what would you do as a developer? Submit some buildings of 9 storeys as advised in the documents? You foolish… go for 20 at least!

As usual with Wandsworth Council now, it is in plain contradiction to its planning documents. Such proposal would be laughable if we did not know that the Council has got a record of throwing out its own rules to praise the developers’ plans. The Site Specific Allocation Document (which has just been submitted only months ago and is under review by the planning inspectorate) is stating (page 234):

10.4 Homebase,York Road, SW11

Tall Buildings: In accordance with Core Strategy Policy IS3d, tall buildings in this location are likely to be inappropriate. In accordance with DMPD Policy DMS4, the height at which a development in this location will be considered to be tall is 9 storeys.

Wandsworth Design Review Panel concerns

The usually very cautious panel set up by the Council raised several concerns:

  • No justification was offered for the height of the central tower particularly when the Council’s policy states that tall buildings (at 9 storeys and above) in this location are likely to be inappropriate. A building of this height could not fail to make its presence felt however carefully the set-back angles are calculated. No convincing reason was offered as to why the Council’s stated policy should be ignored.
  • The second concern with the central tower was that the architectural ambition for this site was if anything, too ambitious. […] We strongly doubt that the quality of materials and detailing will ultimately be delivered on a site such as this where the values are unlikely to justify them. Nothing would be sadder than if the final result was a “dumbed down” version of the current rather exuberant  design.
  • In the opinion of the Panel [removal of the trees along Gartons Way] would be a pity and we felt that the implications of keeping the trees had not been properly presented. Such an option is certainly feasible albeit at a loss of development volume. Without a convincing case for the removal of these trees the Panel did not feel minded to support the proposal as it stands.
  • From the plans and discussion it was clear that there were a number of unresolved issues about the public realm to this street, apart from the ramp referred to above. These include the design and function of the public space in front of the proposed concierge to the Tower, the management of the refuse collection at street level and vehicular parking to the lay-by.

Strong objections from the local residents

There are currently 32 objections from local residents and amenity society (and no support).

Our objections

The Clapham Junction Action Group is objecting to the proposal in respect to the following points:

Tall building policy ignored

Wandsworth own planning documents states (SSAD) that the site is inappropriate for buildings more than 9 storeys high. All of the surrounding buildings are 5 storeys or less.

The obvious justification for the height and massing proposed for this location (and we hardly believe that the Design Panel failed to perceive the odds, as this is the usual justification for any breach of policy) is the viability of the scheme in respect to the value of the land. However this wouldn’t be the case if Wandsworth Council was not used to ignore its own rules and permit all sort of developments, whatever incongruous to the area they might be.

Daylight, Sunlight & Overshadowing: loss of up to 86 for 54% of the neighbourhood%

In summary, the report states: “the effect of the construction of the proposed scheme upon 84% (NSL) of the surrounding residential rooms is considered to be negligible in nature on the basis that the daylight amenity alterations“.

However, the proposed developments shows a major loss of daylight for some adjacent buildings (p12). Out of 619 windows observed in the study, 333 are showing more reduction than the 20% BRE permitted guidelines (Vertical Sky Component – if the amount of skylight falling on a vertical wall or window decrease by more than 20%, occupants will notice a change) with 109 being “Major loss”. Amongst them : 1 – 8 Windward House (40% will loose more than 40% daylight),  1 – 4 Square Rigger Row (53% will loose more than 40% daylight), 7 & 14 Port House (70% will loose more than 40% daylight), 46 – 51 Candlemakers (86% will loose more than 40% daylight), 52 – 72 Candlemakers (32% will loose more than 40% daylight), 1 – 24 Wheeler Court (21% will loose more than 40% daylight).

Despite those figures the reports maintain that the changes are negligible!

Affordable housing guidelines as usual ignored for the sake of viability

As usual for sites in Wandsworth, the applicant is not providing the minimum provision for affordable housing as stated in the London and Wandsworth plans. A mere 11.5% affordable housing is proposed (1 and 2 bedroom-flats as intermediate housing, no social housing).

Wandsworth Council owns Core Strategy policy on housing states (Policy IS5):

On individual sites a proportion of at least 33% of homes should be affordable, however, higher provision will be sought where viable.

Indeed, in relation to affordable housing, the NPPG (National Planning Policy Guidance – March 2014) makes clear that “where viability of a development is in question, local planning authorities should look to be flexible in
applying policy requirements wherever possible“. And this is of course the usual lines used in the financial viability statements nowadays, with the advisors saying:

“The development proposals are therefore considered to go beyond the requirements of the NPPF and Policy IS5 by providing an element of affordable housing on the site, which would not otherwise be provided taking into account the Viability Assessment which identifies that the development generates a deficit against the viability benchmark.”

As the possibility to dish the affordable/social conditions as well as the height limitation are all factors increasing the site value, there is no surprise that it creates that viability issue.

However, even with that consideration, the BNP Paribas advisors wrote that “the proposed Development is unviable with 100% private housing on the basis of current costs and values“. Therefore it questions either the accuracy of the advisors report, or the calculation of the developers (especially with the Design Review panel views to seek the highest quality of material).

Loss of mature trees

As highlighted by the Design Panel we regret the removal of the mature trees along Gartons Way.

Parking and traffic issues

Over 261 units, there is only provision for 104 parking spaces. As usual, the new scheme fails to recognise the car parking requirements for the area (in particular the over night demand caused by the residents at the Travel Lodge and during the week).

In addition it must be noted that York Road is heavily used during the day and often congested at pick hours. This over-development will only exacerbate the existing situation.

The proposed scheme represents significant over development of the site and should be refused. We can only reiterate our previous statements:

“We consider that the wording of the policies is an open door to all understanding and misuse by the Council to justify any planning development. We have already numerous examples where factual breach of policies is balanced with subjective “overall benefit” in Wandsworth planning reports. Those statements have no place in the document and must be removed for the policy to become effective.” 

As a resident wrote: “It is time that the Council adopted a sensible and logical
strategy to developments in Wandsworth.“. We join the call from the Battersea Society asking for:

“a halt to any further planning permissions until there has been serious consideration, with TfL, of the implications of the increased demand on road and public transport in the area.  Any study should include achievable plans for meeting the demand for those schemes already consented and realistic proposals for meeting additional demand.”

Decision is to be made by Wandsworth Council committee on May 21st.


Filed under: Clapham Junction Bye Bye Homebase, welcome 20 storey buildings