A better consultation

2 mins read

Author: Cyril Richert
In his letter to the developers, Wandsworth Council planning officer was asking for further and better consultation: Mr Hunter acknowledges the campaign for additional consultation including the provision of scale models at the station and requests Metro Shopping Fund to consider whether they would like to be involved in such an exercise.
I was talking recently with Jane Ellison about the consultation and was actually deploring the fact that instead of consulting ahead, presenting to the residents different solutions and requesting feedback, it seems that the preferred option is to push ahead only one solution, and wait until numerous effort is spent to oppose it (think about the Putney towers or the Battersea Power Station redevelopment).
However this approach can work. As Simon Jenkins was quoting the example of Paris in his recent article in the Evening Standard, we have over there a good example of major station/shopping mall redevelopment.
plan-de-metro-parisLes Halles, located at the heart of Paris, is a major transport hub (actually the largest subway hub in Europe) with a convergence of three lines of RER (a network of express underground lines) leading out of the city to the south, east and west, the completely automatic and newest metro line Meteor, and 3 lines of standard metro. You have currently 800,000 travellers a day, tens of thousands of neighbours, of visitors, of customers of the numerous businesses, in total 40 million people a year. Also, Les Halles is a large commercial centre in Paris. The budget (although certain to rise in the future) is at present £150-£200 millions.
I know we are focusing on Clapham Junction, and some will say it is not as important… or as romantic as Paris ( :-p ), but you certainly noted some similarities in term of transport importance and budget.
So, what happened? In 2005, the Mayor of Paris announced a vast new initiative: a complete change and reconstruction of Les Halles. The base line is a concept that will still be satisfactory in 25 years time.
In order to do so, a competition was organised, and exhibition available to visitors. The first architecture competition for a new Halles in 2004 failed to convince, and of the four finalists — the others were Jean Nouvel, Rem Koolhaas and Winy Maas — only Mr. Mangin’s conservative proposal for the gardens was retained. A new competition was organized, with Mr. Berger and Mr. Anziutti now chosen from among 10 finalists, including Massimiliano Fuksas, Toyo Ito and Paul Chemetov. So for the same budget as CJ redevelopment (even less apparently), the discussion and competition was much better!
The chosen design (press release here in French) will in effect reach 66 feet below the ground to the roof of the station, though the shopping areas will remain largely intact. The principal novelty will be a so-called patio, measuring roughly 215 feet by 150 feet, which will be open to ground level and protected from the elements by the canopy (the CJ proposal includes also a canopy).
Amazing, isn’t it? It does not have towers… French must be magicians, they don’t need to build tower blocks everywhere to restore and improve a major transport hub and town centre area!
Berger-Anziutti - Les Halles (Paris) - Canope 1 Berger-Anziutti - Les Halles (Paris) - Canope 2
Other designs (once again you will notice that nobody is proposing a tower block on top of the major transport hub!), not approved, were :

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CJI editor and Clapham Junction Action Group co-founder and coordinator since 2008, Cyril has lived in Clapham Junction since 2001.
He is also funder and CEO of Habilis-Digital Ltd, a digital agency creating and managing websites and Internet solutions.


  1. Isn’t the difference here that the Paris scheme has been commissioned by the Mayor of Paris, and the CJ scheme is a joint venture between Network Rail and Delancey?
    If this were a publicly funded scheme, some sort of competition would be a good idea. However, as it is privately funded presumably the people paying for it (i.e. the developer) would have the final say on the design they want to submit for consideration.
    Don’t get me wrong – I am no fan of this scheme, but I don’t think you help the case against it by trying to compare apples with pears. I imagine all sorts of planning applications are submitted to the council, some of which are approved and others are turned down. In my view this one will be turned down because it fails to meet the necessary planning criteria.

  2. Richard> Yes of course that is making a difference. But you can see it as the will of one city to take into account the environment, the urbanism, and the view of the residents, and in the other city, the short term view of maximising profit and saving money.
    Why not asking several developers? Some funding provided by the Council (I’m not talking about millions) to collect some feasibility and opinion study based on proposals?
    And one of the point is: there is no tower here for a comparable development. Why? Because there is no wish in Paris to allow tower blocks. Architects just don’t submit it, because it would be immediately turned down. They don’t even try.
    And this is not the same in London, especially Wandsworth, because there is no clear policy on building tall tower blocks.

  3. Re-what Richard said, I asked Mark Hunter about why such a large important development shouldn’t be approached in more than one way, and he said that the proposals were up to the owners of the property. And that, it appears, is that.
    HOWEVER, I would have thought that where the national interest is at stake there must be a way of such pea-brain thinking being overuled*. This is the biggest junction in Europe; it should be a matter of National Pride not a three-way cost saving deal between financially interested parties.
    I absolutely agree with what Cyril is saying.
    Thanks Cyril for making clear to us what should be happening as oposed to the scruffy way it IS happening.
    *not saying that this is necessarily the Council’s fault.
    And another thing, WHY are we not complaining about only one entrance at the front of the station. Which other station that size only has one entrance at the front? Why are we accepting that most people will have to go quite a long extra walk uphill, because it suits the developers?

  4. Julia> Don’t forget that Metro does not “own” much of the land required for their development. They need all the land owned by PCS (which is a big part of the development) and the Windsor Castle for instance.
    Regarding the entrance, we are complaining actually, and as Kate wrote here (station congestion):
    it is part of a question asked by the Planning Officer to the developers.
    Network Rail answered also (I will comment that tomorrow) that it was the only way to ease the flow of poeple circulating into the station, as per the “computer models”. [I think they need to review their programs 😉 ]

  5. It is correct that one cannot compare Les Halles with Clapham Junction, whether that is in terms of location, age of original construction, constraints, land prices, construction costs, geology, geography, future capacity requirements or local/regional planning context. One example is the fact that Clapham Junction is a surface station, without 66 feet of sub-surface capacity to be developed.
    Cyril wrote,
    ‘Because there is no wish in Paris to allow tower blocks. Architects just don’t submit it, because it would be immediately turned down. They don’t even try.
    And this is not the same in London, especially Wandsworth, because there is no clear policy on building tall tower blocks.’
    This is inaccurate. The City of Paris contains no tall buildings because of a planning law passed in the mid-Seventies which capped building heights at 37 metres, in addition to pre-existing 19th-century laws on “alignement”.
    The current Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, is actually now lobbying for this restrictive planning law to be overturned, in order to realise his ambition to build distinctive, tall buildings on railway or derelict industrial sites.
    Msr Delanoe is backing plans that would see six 200-metre towers constructed all around the city. President Sarkozy of France has publicly claimed that there should be no “ideological” objection to tall buildings.
    In London, there is a ‘clear policy on building tall tower blocks’. Both the London Plan and the GLA have expressed the view that high-density residential development should be strategically located at existing major centres and major transport nodes

  6. Brendan> Actually what I say is accurate: there is no wish to build tall buildings (they drew a line from their mistakes in the sixties) and THEREFORE they passed a rule as to limit the size of buildings as pointed out in comments above.
    As you must be aware, the Mayor of Paris is proposing towers in the out-skirt of Paris, not inside, not in central locations (industrial, as you rightly said… so do you see CJ town centre as an industrial zone for development?); in addition, this is subject to intense consultation, and not a single tower has been approved yet.
    In the Mayor of Paris’ plan, there is indeed the option to build 6 towers. But the most advanced (and still under intense criticism… I bet it won’t happen such as) project is a pyramid in the south of the city… the rest of the project are better qualified as “ideas”…
    Regarding London, the project of the last Mayor was indeed to build not 6… but 25 skyscrapers… but you must be aware that since then Londoners have elected a Mayor who claimed to “stop Ken’s phallocratic towers”.; so unfortunately, contrary to what you say, the policy is now very unclear.

  7. I was puzzled by your statement that no tall buildings have been allowed in Paris since the 1960s because, in addition to Tour Eiffel and Notre Dame de Paris, I saw plenty when I was there last week. By typing Tall Buildings Paris into a search engine I cam across the following examples :
    Building Built Type Height (m)
    Tour Maine 1969-1973 office 210.0
    Tour Total 1985 office 187.0
    Tour T1 2008 office 185.0
    Tour Granite 2008 office 183.0
    Tour Areva 1974 office 184.0
    Tour Gan 1974 office 179.0
    Tour Alicante 1995 office 167.0
    Tour Chassagne 1995 office 167.0
    Tour EDF 2001 office 165.0
    Cœur Défense 2001 office 161.0
    Tour Assur (AXA) 1974 office 159.0
    Tour Adria 2002 office 155.0
    Tour Égée (Ernst&Young) 1999 office 155.0
    Tour Ariane 1975 office 152.0
    Tour Pleyel 1972 mixed 143.0
    Tour CBX 2005 office 142.0
    Hôtel Concorde Lafayette 1974 hotel 137.0
    Tour Défense 2000 1974 residential 136.0 Tour Europlaza 1995 office 135.0
    Tour Descartes (IBM) 1988 office 130.0
    Tour Les Poissons 1970 mixed 128.0
    Tour France 1973 residential 126.0
    Tour Olympe 1974 office 125.0
    Tour Prélude 1979 residential 123.1
    Tour Levant 1975 office 122.0
    Tour Ponant, les Mercuriales 1975 office 122.0 Tour Franklin 1972 office 120.0
    Tour Sequoia 1990 office 119.0
    Tour Winterthur 1973 office 119.0
    Tour Michelet 1985 office 117.0
    Tour CB16 2003 office 117.0
    Hôtel Méridien Montparnasse 1974 hotel 116.1
    Tour Super-Italie 1973 residential 113.0 371
    Tour Neptune 1972 office 113.0
    Préfecture des Hauts-de-Seine 1974 office
    Grande Arche 1989 monument, office 110.0 Tour Manhattan 1975 office 110.0
    Tour Giralda residential 110.0
    Tour Aurore 1970 office 110.0
    Tour Eve 1975 mixed 109.0
    Tour Initiale 1967 office 109.0
    Tour Fugue 1972 residential 108.0
    Tour Nuage 1 1976 residential 105.0
    Tour Nuage 2 1976 residential 105.0
    Résidence Antoine et Cléopâtre 1970 residential 104.0
    Tour Gambetta 1975 residential 104.0
    Tour Anvers 1974 residential 104.0
    Tour Athènes 1974 residential 104.0
    Tour Cortina 1970 residential 104.0
    Tour Helsinki 1974 residential 104.0
    Tour Londres residential 104.0
    Tour Mexico 1974 residential 104.0
    Tour Sapporo 1974 residential 104.0
    Tour Tokyo 1974 residential 104.0
    Tour Chéops 1970 residential 103.0
    Tour Mykérinos 1970 residential 103.0
    Tour Cèdre 1998 office 103.0
    Tour Ancône 1970 residential 102.0
    Tour Bologne 1970 residential 102.0
    Tour Ferrare 1970 residential 102.0
    Tour Palerme 1970 residential 102.0
    Tour Ravenne 1970 residential 102.0
    Tour Cantate 1979 residential 101.0
    Tour Opus12 1973 office 100.0
    Tour Athéna 1984 office 100.0
    Novotel Paris Tour Eiffel 1976 hotel 100.0
    Tour Totem 1979 residential 100.0
    Tour Cristal 1988-1990 office 95.0
    Tour Paris Seine 1973 residential 100.0
    Tour Vendôme 1975 office 100.0
    Tour Europe 1969 office 99.0
    Tour AIG 1967 office 99.0
    Tour Paris Côté Seine 1977 hotel 98.0
    Tour de Seine, Front de Seine 1970 residential
    Tour Prisma 1998 office 97.0
    Tour Chambord 1970 residential 96.0
    Tour Atlas 1970 residential 95.0
    Tour Puccini 1970 residential 95.0
    Tour Verdi 1970 residential 95.0
    Tour Atlantique 1970 office 95.0
    Tour Pascal 1983 office 95.0
    Tour Mantoue 1970 residential 95.0
    Tour de Mars 1974 residential 94.0
    Tour Beaugrenelle 1979 residential 94.0
    Tour Perspective 1 1973 residential 94.0
    Tour Perspective 2 1975 residential 94.0
    Tour Reflets 1976 residential 94.0
    Tour Franklin 1972 office 120.0
    Tour Avant-Seine 1975 residential 93.0
    Tour Espace 2000 1976 residential 93.0
    Tour Evasion 2000 1971 residential 93.0
    Tour Panorama 1974 residential 93.0
    Tour Rive Gauche 1975 residential 93.0
    Tour Keller 1970 residential 93.0
    Residences Beryl 1970 residential 92.0
    Residences Jade 1970 residential 92.0
    Residences Onyx 1970 residential 92.0
    Residences Rubis 1970 residential 92.0
    Tour Abeille 1970 residential 92.0
    Tour Capri 1970 residential 92.0
    Tour Rimini 1970 residential 92.0
    Tour Chéphren 1970 residential 90.0
    Orgues de Flandre 4 1979 residential 90.0
    Tour Pacific 1992 office 90.0
    Tour Zamansky 1971 education 113.0
    In addition, the following have been approved or are under construction:
    Hermitage Plaza 1 office 323 – approved
    Hermitage Plaza 2 office 323 – approved
    Tour Generali office 308 – approved
    Tour Phare office 300 – approved
    Tour Assur (AXA) office 240 – under reconstruction
    Tour Air² office 220 – approved
    Tour Majunga office 195 – approved
    Tour de Levallois 1 office 165 – approved
    Tour de Levallois 2 office 165 – approved
    Tour AVA office 142 – approved
    Tour Mozart office 97 – under construction
    Before you get on your high horse, no I am nothing to do with Delancy or Metro. I am just someone who is interested in seeing both sides of the argument presented fairly so that people can make up their own minds. Given the complete inaccuracy of your posting on this subject, just how much confidence can we have that your other utterings are truthful?

  8. “Given the complete inaccuracy of your posting on this subject”> Hmmm and you want me not to go on my high horse? 😉 Ok… but then I will just tell you that the buildings that you talk about are NOT in Paris, but in Puteaux (post code 92, not 75), in an area called La Defense.
    I won’t ride my horse, because I know that this is a genuine mistake as the business area of La Defense (similar to Canary Wharf) is often associated with Paris, but not under its administration 😉
    The next big project in that area is the Tour Signal, after a competition won by Jean Nouvel:

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