Author: Cyril Richert
The planning officer has recommended that the Planning Applications Committee reject the application for a 16 storey hotel in 155 Falcon Road (site of the old Job Centre, bottom of Mossbury Road).
Recommendation is that, subject to any Direction from the Mayor of London, planning permission be refused on the grounds that: –
- The proposed building by reason of its height would be an unduly prominent and incongruous development and together with its poor detailed design would fail to preserve or enhance the character of the Clapham Junction Conservation Area and the setting of nearby listed buildings…
- The proposal does not comply with sustainable design and climate change policies in terms of renewable energy and low carbon development contrary to Core Strategy…
- The proposal does not ensure an accessible environment for people with disabilities and fails to include any wheelchair accessible bedrooms…
[Full document is available here]
The report follows essentially two objections: the one submitted by English Heritage (commented here) and the one submitted by the Mayor of London’s office (commented here).
Height: the report follows the objections of English Heritage
On the height issue, the comment highlight that “for most objectors, the height of the building is the most significant and contentious aspect of the proposal“. As we have previously written, the decision to proceed with the hotel scheme was specifically driven by the Council’s recommendation in its Core Strategy document that Clapham Junction was a suitable location for regeneration through the construction of tall buildings (part. 4.132 of the document). However the town planner follows here the argument of so many objections, in line with English Heritage and CABE, and says: “there are serious doubts as to whether the application site can adequately accommodate a building of this size in townscape terms. […] The proposed building significantly exceeds the prevailing height of surrounding buildings, while there are no other examples of tall buildings within the Clapham Junction Town Centre“.
We also note that the planning officer considers the size of this very compact site and writes: “The new building would result in an overdevelopment of the site reflected in the exceptional high plot ratio and it would be an unduly bulky and prominent building in relation to the extent of site. […] The proposed building does not physically integrate with its surroundings and would dwarf the surrounding buildings; in particular it would be out of scale with the houses in Mossbury Road. In this context, the site would not be suitable for a sixteen-storey building“.
More surprising (but very welcomed) when you keep in mind the very positive view given by the planning service to the erection of two 42-storey towers in a previous application in Clapham Junction, less than 50 yards away from the proposed site of the hotel, the town planner says: “the building does not relate to its environment, and it would be highly prominent in views from most directions. Although the proposal would replace a building of no particular merit, and a taller building than the existing height might be achievable, it is difficult to argue that this proposal meets the policy tests and would not make a positive contribution to the townscape and the public realm“.
English Heritage’s comment was also deeply used in criticising the design and the report says that “the development does not respect the grain of the conservation area, and due to its sheer size and design it would fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area. […] The proposed building would impinge on the local views towards the two listed buildings of the former Arding and Hobbs building and the Falcon public house“.
Techniques and guidelines: the report follows the objections of the Mayor of London’s office
The report quotes the criticisms of the Mayor of London’s letter in reference to sustainable construction techniques, comments that the proposals does not comply with the climate policies of the London Plan and the issue on lack of enough disable access facilities. In addition the planning officer says that “notwithstanding the above analysis, it is considered the proposal would result in an unneighbourly overbearing and dominant development when viewed from properties in Mossbury Road, and would create an undue sense of enclosure“.
The application will be presented before the Planning Committee on June 25th
After the number of objections made by the Mayor of London’s letter (along with suggestions to possible remedies) the developers were expecting to go before the Planning Committee at a later date (July or later) in order to have further time to submit more documents supporting their case. However, the planning officer considers that “there is an “in-principle” objection to the height of the proposed development and that this would not be overcome by additional graphics“.
We can only welcome this recommendation and hope that this will prefigure further changes in the Core Strategy regarding the possibility of tall buildings in applications submitted for Clapham Junction.
(The news was also published a few days ago on Cllr Cousins’ blog)