Wandsworth Society vs Ram Brewery development: proof of evidence

5 mins read

Author: Cyril Richert
Below are extracts of the different topics raised by the Wandsworth Society against the current planning application for the Ram Brewery redevelopment.
The Society has considered the proposals in the light of:

  1. the Unitary Development Plan (adopted in August 2003) excluding the 12 policies which have not been saved
  2. the submitted Local Development Framework of which the Core Strategy is the subject of a Public Hearing expected to begin in February 2010
  3. the London Plan (consolidated at February 2008)

Design principles

The Wandsworth Society believe that residential towers of 42 and 32 stories are totally inappropriate in Wandsworth Town Centre.  There is no precedent for buildings of this height in SW London, or indeed anywhere in the capital apart from the City and Docklands. The taller tower exceeds the height of the London Eye (135m) and both towers are higher than Battersea Power Station(113m) and the Tate Modern(99m). […]
The maximisation of development in order  to maximise  the development return cannot be relevant when considering the planning merits of the scheme. […]
The Wandsworth Society is concerned that the quality of the public areas will be adversely affected by Venturi wind tunnel effects. […]
The Wandsworth Society is concerned that the sheer size and scale of the proposals are difficult to appreciate from the submitted documents[…].  The design, scale and massing of all the building blocks will, at close quarters from the surrounding streets, be overwhelming and dominant but this is not apparent from the photographs in the developer’s document “Heritage, Townscape and Visual Assessment”. […]
The proposed towers are a massive intrusion into the Wandsworth skyline and are entirely disproportionate in their scale to the town centre. […]

Affordable Housing

In respect of the National Planning Guidelines, the Ram Brewery fails on all counts. […] Equally, the affordable housing provision on the combined sites is in breach of the Council’s own housing policy. […]
The Ram Brewery development is not a major contribution to housing need in the area, nor indeed would the flats to be built be of a price or type that would meet urgent social needs locally.[…]
On these points alone therefore, at the heart of the proposals, the development meets neither the Council’s criteria nor the Government’s PPS1 quality of design criteria.


On-street parking in the immediate vicinity is restricted by permit; thus, outside normal shopping hours, there will be even more pressure, particularly for evening and night-time use of the leisure facilities. […]
The scheme makes no provision for a dedicated or protected pedestrian route (save for the possible bridge link in the future). […]
Wandsworth Town Station (approx ½ mile from the nearest point of the site) is already at full capacity during rush hour periods. Network Rail has no current plans to lengthen the platforms in the near future to accommodate 12 car trains nor have the operators any immediate plans to increase the capacity of the trains. Permission for the development at East Putney Station (84-88 Upper Richmond Road) was refused upon grounds, amongst others, of lack of overland train capacity (Application No2008/3321). […]
An important criterion in identifying appropriate locations for tall buildings is their relationship to the Transport Infrastructure (CABE/English Heritage: Guidance on Tall Buildings). […] Bearing in mind the colossal scale of the Ram Brewery scheme, we consider the transport provision to be inadequate and that Wandsworth Town Centre cannot be considered an appropriate location for such tall buildings.

Historic Environment

Conservation Areas are defined as “areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which is desirable to preserve or enhance” –  that is the wording of the legislation in which Conservation Areas are enshrined. […] The proposed developments do not meet these criteria. The proposed blocks both on the main Ram Brewery site and on the Capital Studios site will overwhelm the historic Listed Buildings around and within their sites, which, as a consequence, will be reduced to insignificant proportions. […]
It is certainly due to the “ugly, overpowering Arndale Centre” (now Southside) that the Council sought to protect the remainder of the town centre by giving it Conservation Area status. Thus, the Wandsworth Society has to ask why the Council considers the proposed development acceptable within the parameters they have established already.

Conditions of Planning Permission

The following items shown on the Council’s list of potential obligations should be treated, The Wandsworth Society believes, as conditions attached to any planning permission, rather than being paid for out of the amount the developers could reasonably be expected to set aside to fulfill planning obligations under S106:-

  1. Public rights of way through the site
  2. The Riverside walk alongside the River Wandle
  3. Highway improvements required to facilitate the development
  4. Provision of affordable housing
  5. Community facilities within the Brewery buildings and the preservation of these   buildings
  6. Car park management
  7. On-site cycle parking
  8. A children’s play area

The principal matters that we believe should be treated as planning obligations as part of a Section 106 Agreement and under Section 278 of the Highways Act 1980 are:-

  1. Highway improvements
  2. Improvements to Wandsworth Town Station
  3. Provision of a bus interchange, co-ordination of town centre bus stops and provision of enhanced bus routes
  4. Improvements to the access between the Thames Riverside and the town centre, including provision of a broad bridge link across Armoury Way
  5. River Wandle enhancement works

[…] The public was quite unaware of the deal being struck between the developers and the Council with regard to the tranches of money being provided to fund significant road improvements, until the publication of the Council’s Planning Committee Report. Out of a total of £40.916 million under the Section 106 Agreement, £38 million is to fund the gyratory works. There may be contrary views as to how the total should be spent. […]
Whilst the Wandsworth Society has been promoting the restoration of the High Street to two-way traffic, partial pedestrianisation and the re-routing of through traffic around the town centre for over 23 years, they do not accept that a development on the unacceptable scale of the Ram Brewery proposal should be the price to pay  to achieve our ambition.


There are many aspects of the proposals for both the Ram Brewery site and the Cockpen House site to which we strongly object.
In the order in which they are dealt with in the above proof of evidence, they can be summarised as follows:-

  1. The height of the proposed towers is out of all proportion to any existing buildings built or approved in South-West London.
  2. The towers are out of scale with the centre of Wandsworth and will dominate and overwhelm the centre of the town.
  3. The layout of the scheme fails to compensate for the height of the towers, and is far too dense and is lacking in human scale.
  4. The massing and density of the scheme should be greatly reduced.
  5. The provision of open space and landscaping is unimaginative and inadequate.
  6. The visual appearance of the scheme is overbearing and detrimental to the surrounding neighbourhood.
  7. The retail content of the scheme will not satisfy local needs nor those of retailers.
  8. The car parking provision is inadequate to support a retail scheme of this size.
  9. There is insufficient affordable housing provided across the two schemes, which fall short of the provision demanded in the draft LDF and the London Plan.
  10. The residential content provided is not of the size or type required to satisfy local housing needs.
  11. There are many failings in the design of the housing on both the Ram Brewery and Cockpen House sites and many flats fall short of Council or Government standards.
  12. The road system is inadequate to cope with another development of this scale in Wandsworth .
  13. Public transport in the town centre is overcrowded and inadequate.
  14. The proposals are harmful to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area, and fail to respect the grain of the area.
  15. The massive scale of the scheme totally destroys the setting of the many listed buildings in the centre of Wandsworth, both within and outside the site.
  16. The applicants cannot guarantee to meet the funding required under the S106 agreement and funds are no known to be available from elsewhere.
  17. The S106 agreement places the responsibility of funding the proposed gyratory system on this development alone, which has led to over – intensive development and the loss of other possible public benefits.
  18. The scheme fails to provide a suitable bridge link across Armoury Way between the town centre and the riverside area.
  19. The heavy loss of employment land on the Ram Brewery and Cockpen House sites is not being replaced by affordable employment accommodation elsewhere in the area.
  20. The cumulative effect of these two schemes places unacceptable pressure on local transport and services.

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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.