Wandsworth 2018: the case for no towers!

2 mins read

Author: Cyril Richert
The council has distributed a brochure in February about its vision for Wandsworth for the next ten years: Our Wandsworth 2018.
The seven priorities to the scheme are:

  1. making Wandsworth safer,
  2. improving the environment and transport,
  3. building a prosperous community,
  4. ensuring children and young people meet their potential,
  5. improving health and social care,
  6. meeting housing needs
  7. supporting active citizenship in the community.

Council leader Edward Lister said: “The aim of Our Wandsworth 2018 is to meet head-on the challenges we know we face, such as population growth, climate change and health issues, and what local people have told us they want to see, such as good quality parks, less pollution and action to tackle anti-social behaviour. But it’s not just the council’s plan – it was drawn up with our partners on the Wandsworth Local Strategic Partnership (WLSP) and is the long-term vision of how we will work together to improve the lives of the people in the borough over the next ten years.
Regarding Clapham Junction station, this is cited in the “transport” section, p12 and it says:

What we’ll do: Improve passenger facilities and accessibility at key local railway stations including making Clapham Junction fit for the 21st century.

First, to be fair, the changes occurring in Clapham Junction Station to improve passenger facilities and accessibility are part of the Government’s £370 million Access for All scheme, which envisaged the station being step-free by the end of 2009. This programme is entirely funded by the government and contractors are installing 9 lifts at Clapham Junction station. The Brighton Yard entrance at the top of St John’s Hill will be re-opened with a ticket office to provide direct access to the overbridge and the lifts.
Referring to the Wandsworth 2018 brochure, Michael Snaith was writing to the Council regarding the planning application:

Our Wandsworth 2018This is Battersea, not New York. We are failry homogenous community of low-rise, mostly brick-built and frequently Victorian or Edwardian buildings. The photo spread accross the opening page of the council’s “Our Wandsworth” brochure amply demonstrates how out of scales and unsympathetic in character  are the few existing high-rise blocks in the area. Standing out like a sor thumb is putting it mildly. Places like the sad, greying concrete towers of the Winstanley Estate are a relic of the Sixities craze for high-rise. As a “good place to live” quote par of the slogan you spread accross the aforementionned photo, they have been discredited and many of their fellows have been demolished.
Yet Metro wishes to inflict two monstrosities on us, bang in the centre of Battersea, that at 42 stories are roughly twice the height of the tallest Winstanley tower. They are also to be covered in stainless steel blue and yellow cladding which will make them stand out even more – if that’s possible. even in the developers’ own flatteringly constructed mock-ups, these towers look hideous, overpowering and totally out of keeping with their surroundings. Cutting them down a few floors – a favourite developer’s trick – is not an option. At 21 floors they’d still be an eyesore. No towers. Period.
[…] With the cafés, bars and small shops around Battersea Rise, Northcote Road and St John’s Hill, and Clapham Common nearby we have a village feeling, and you do encounter local friends in the street. It is a comfortable, human-scale place to be – and a Conservation Area. Those alien towers would overshadow everything, with no way to avoid seeing them.
The brochure Our Wandsworth 2018 says: “our vision: We want Wandsworth to be a community of global citizens living within environmental limits in an attractive high quality environment”. Do you think that most people will see these monsters as contributing to that “attractive environment”?
[…] In its “Our Wandsworth” brochure, it claims: “We listened to the concerns local people have now and for the future.” In every aspect, the Metro Shopping plan seems to be in conflict with the council’s own stated aims for the borough in its “long-term vision for the future” and should be voted down by the planning committee, unanimously, once and for all.

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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.