As part of the proposed scheme, all of the current office space within the Clapham Junction complex will be lost and there are no plans to provide new offices. As one of the objectors to the scheme has put it : “Did you know that Clapham Junction is the 13th most accessible employment location in the whole of London? Without a stronger level of employment, Clapham Junction will continue to fail its tremendous potential. … If the developers took into account CJ’s accessibility, and lobbied for creating a new connection between CJ and Heathrow, then we’d be talking about something altogether different.”
Here are some of the comments from local employers regarding the proposals:
PCS is the Trade Union in occupation at Falcon House, since its construction more than 20 years ago. Many of PCS’s staff either live locally in Clapham Junction area or are reliant on the proximity of rail services at Clapham Junction station for their journey to work. The PCS is one of the few major employers still present in Clapham Junction, with a staff of approximatively 240 who, together , contribute significantly to the social and economic life of the centre. As the Head Quarter of a trade union with 300,000 members, Falcon House receives as many as 350 visitors per week according to a contribution sent to the Planning Application Committee.
Representation of PCS highlights two fundamental errors in the planning application:
- no reference made to the absence of any satisfactory relocation premises,
- no reference on effects of the loss of 241 full time jobs in Clapham Junction.
In addition, PCS made clear that there is no offer of alternative premises and there is a false assessment in the planning statement saying that PCS wants to relocate closer to Westminster.
The Falcon pub is also objecting to the plan, stating that the application will have an unacceptable impact upon the operation of the Falcon, and highlighting a complete lack of consideration for the business. For example, if the company cannot bring service vehicles to the rear of the building (the Falcon has a right of access, stated on the Land Registry, over the land to the rear of the public house, which the developers have ignored) they will have to park outside the property on either St John’s Hill or Falcon Road. Dray lorries can take up to an hour to load and, accordingly, there will inevitably be significant impact for the safe and free flow of traffic through the Junction.
The fact that no thought has been given to future service arrangements for the Falcon is a significant deficiency in the application submission.
The developers’ representatives at the exhibition last January made clear that the new centre will seek to attract multiple businesses currently in St John’s Road. However, by closing the entrance to the under-pass and moving the main station entrance further up the hill, they will affect the access to the current shopping area of St John’s Road and Northcote Road. (For users who have been in the vicinity long enough to remember times when the tunnel was closed – in favour of the Brighton Yard entrance – they know that it just does not work as well).
In addition, some of the representations objecting to the plans, rightly question the quality of the businesses in the new mall, pointing out that Southside in Wandsworth Town has a substantial number of unlet units and questionning how viable the proposal will be. They ask for more local shops and services, and no more Starbucks or chain restaurants.
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The government, in their great wisdom, do not see a problem in allowing our population to expand at an unrestricted rate, so we do nee to develop more housing. But do Delancey & Land Securities have the best interests of the public at heart? of course not. The decision to waive the obligatory percentage of ‘affordable’ or ‘social’ housing in exchange for ‘refurbishments’ to the station is scandalous.
Why, anyway, do people have such a hang-up about the condition of Clapham Junction station, when the blight which this development will bring, could in reality make life for ordinary people in Wandsworth and Battersea far worse than it is now? Is the re-tiling of underground walkways and the provision of even more shops which persuade us to buy stuff we don’t really need, really going to make life great? As is pointed out above, the retail units in the existing station will undoubtedly lose trade and may have to close – what a waste of all that building that went on only a few years ago.
If we have these two hideous and mal-functioning towers, they will not be providing necessary housing for teachers, nurses, transport workers, cleaners, police-officers and firemen etc, (because they won’t be able to afford them) but will undoubtedly be providing a high percentage of pieds-a-terre for the wealthy (and who even might just be acquiring them for tax-avoidance reasons).
Such high buildings are entirely out of character with the surrounding city-scape, will kill or blight existing businesses and will bring much unwanted congestion. Yes we need new housing but it has to be proportionate; it has to be for the people who need it; and it has fit stringent environmental conditions. I don’t think 40 stories x2 do this.