According to an article published in the Evening Standard tonight, Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, called for an inquiry into the Ram Brewery redevelopment voted by the Council in December. As we presented the consequences in a previous article, the main brewery site will be marked by a pair of 32 and 42-storey residential tower blocks (up to 145m or 475ft). The Planning Application committee voted by 9 votes to 2 in favour of the scheme.
The Evening Standard wrote:
When outlining her latest decision, Ms Blears said “she ought to decide herself because she considers the proposals may conflict with national policies on important matters”.
These include building heights, landscaping, hazardous installations (the site contains gas holders) and affordable housing.
The Wandsworth application submitted by developer Minerva will now have to be considered at a public inquiry, with the final decision resting with her.
The plans, which include 11 towers, including one of 42 and another of 32 storeys, had been nodded through by Wandsworth council in December.
The letter in which Ms Blears spells out her reasons for calling in the development says her intervention was attacked by Wandsworth council leader Edward Lister. He said: “It’s unbelievable that in the depths of a recession we have a Government that would put at risk £1billion of investment in a suburban town centre.
“The Ram Brewery development would have been the catalyst for the wider regeneration of Wandsworth town centre. It would have created 1,000 new homes, 400 new jobs and helped solve the traffic problems in a problematic one-way system.”
Wandsworth’s planning applications chair Leslie McDonnell said: “This is an ambitious scheme that has the potential to transform the town centre.”
Mr Johnson supported the tower which, he said, met his requirements for the highest-quality design, and the traffic improvements.
But Ms Blears said the application raised issues that went beyond the locality and had to be debated on the basis of national planning policies. Mr Lister said this was a waste of time and put the entire enterprise at risk.
“The council set three main tests for the development, and the answer was yes on all counts”, he said. “The scheme is backed by the Wandsworth Town Centre Partnership, which described it ‘pivotal’ to their vision for the area.
“It was also backed by the Mayor who said the tall buildings met his requirements for the highest quality design and confirmed that were no another means of funding the transport improvements needed.” Deputy mayor for policy and planning, Simon Milton, said: “The Mayor supports the Wandsworth proposal because of the major improvements it would bring. This decision by Ms Blears will delay crucial development in this period of downturn that will be damaging for London’s future prosperity.” However, he did not want to comment on the wider issue.
Other proposals which could also be called in include the Victoria transport interchange and the Heart of Battersea development.
You can also read our article about what the Mayor Office said on the Clapham Junction redevelopment proposal and his claim against tall building during his campaign.
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I wish people would stop trying to justify every sort of “improvement” which invariably involves over-development or an environmentally unsound scheme, with that old chestnut: it will create thousands of jobs…
Jobs and, I’m afraid to say people’s livlihoods will come and go, but ruinous architecture once built, is unfortunately more permanent.
This application was called in because local MP Martin Linton wrote to the Minister to ask her to look into the decision. Martin is asking local residents to let him know if they disagree with the Ram Brewery decision for his submission to the planning enquiry.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your views
I have read the planning applications, and the Health & Safety Executive were not invited to comment on the plans before planning permission was granted by the council and the Mayor. The gas holder nearby does pose a significant risk, and, given the current risk regulations that the HSE enforce (which are more stringent now than they were in the past), I believe there is a very high probability that the HSE would urge the relevant Minister not to allow the development to go through. You simply cannot situate highly populated buildings right next to a gas holder anymore – look at the problems with the Kennington Oval, or the Greenwich site just south of the Millennium Dome.