Author: Cyril Richert
A public meeting was organised yesterday, Thursday 28th January, by the Putney Society to present Wandsworth Borough Council’s new plans to guide the form and shape of re- developments in the borough over the next decade or so. The room in the Brewer Building, St Mary’s Church (Putney Bridge) was full, showing the great concern of the local residents. Martin Howell, Group Planner, Policy and Information at the Town Hall, gave an illustrated presentation of the plans and answered the questions.
The Core Strategy (which sets out the the Council’s vision on the development of the borough for the next 15 years – more explanation here), part of the Local Development Framework (LDF) for Wandsworth borough, was submitted to the Secretary of State in March 2009.
The independent Planning Inspector undertaking the examination of the documents identified concerns in relation to the policies and supporting evidence on affordable housing and tall buildings particularly, and the lack of comprehensive table indicating the relationship between the Core Strategy policies, the related infrastructure requires to deliver the policies and the indicators which will be used to monitor delivery of the plan.
In order for the Council to submit additional documentation, the process was delayed, submissions received by the Inspector up to Friday 6 November 2009 and an initial meeting took place with the Inspector on December 8th. The examination of the Core Strategy will take place at the Town Hall starting on Tuesday 2 February. You can see the schedule in our Agenda page.
Tall buildings, the main concern of the residents, will be the main subject on Thursday 4th. We were invited to participate to the debate along with the Wandsworth Society, the Putney Society and the Battersea Society, as we have submitted a joint statement during the consultation phase. Unfortunately I cannot make any meeting next week but we will be represented by John Dawson, chair of the Wandsworth Society.
The Wandsworth Local Development Document comprises the Development Management Policies Document (DMPD) and the Site-Specific Allocations Document – Preferred Options (SSAD). They can be seen in local libraries or on the Council’s website (as they are often renamed, or moved, we have made available the latest version on our website: SSAD1 & SSAD2). The plans are out for consultation until … next week, February 5th!
The new policy is meant to be evidence-based where plans need to be:
- consistent with national policy
The process of defining the new policy, which is going to replace the Unitary Development Plan (UDP) adopted in August 2003, can be long and require a lot of efforts. The Inspector will decide whether the documents submitted by the Council are sound; if the policy is not successful, the Council will have to say how it will be rectified. Albeit criticisms on its complexity, the process can be credited for providing better guidelines for developers, which has been requested for a very long time by the amenity Societies.
The SSAD is meant to go before the Council in July 2010 for a first review and could be adopted in April 2012. The new documents are subject to modifications after the consultation phase and therefore cannot be used in current planning applications: only the existing UDP and the London Plan may be considered, at least until later this summer, repeated Martin Howell. The current UDP does not have any mention of size for buildings (tall buildings are those which exceed their surrounding…).
However, as we can hope, the new size limits specified in the SSAD do not come out of thin air, and we can reasonably assume that they are based on solid arguments. Therefore, I have difficulties understanding why those arguments are not used in current planning applications! An example? Osiers Road, where the SSAD says that “applications for buildings of more than 18 storeys will generally be unacceptable, and will only be considered in exceptional circumstances” but a 21-storey tower and high density (contradictory to London policy framework) were quickly approved by the Council on January 7th.
Explanation was asked on the wording “exceptional circumstances” to describe conditions where buildings exceeding the maximum size for the location would be considered. Martin Howell said that it will be the case when planning application will provide important benefits for the community. Section 106 (i.e. will the developer needs just to pay a bit more to get its scheme approved?)
As I said previously the SSAD consultation is only open until end of next week (Friday 5th). It started on December 11th. What did you say? You did not hear about it? Well, same outcry was heard yesterday night from the public. Martin Howell explained that a statutory notice was published in the Wandsworth Guardian and a few posters displayed in some estates. However the Council missed the deadline for Brightside! [For information 150,000 copies of Brightside are distributed for free to every household in the borough to be compared with only a share of the 67,000 copies sold for the Wandsworth Guardian (figure made by the combination of Putney, Balham and Streatham editions)]
Therefore only a few comments on the SSAD (about 20 according to Martin Howell) have been received by the Council so far! We urge you the have your say and let the Council know what you think. You don’t need to comment on the whole document (about 200 pages for the SSAD) but can concentrate on your area of interest. I will try to submit a representation for Clapham Junction: albeit being removed from the tall building preferred zone, they display up to 20-storey buildings for the station site, which is, in my view, still too high for the area, considering the extended zone of residential Edwardian and Victorian houses and the iconic Arding and Hobbs building of no more than 6-8 storeys; but please don’t wait for me 😉
Presentations can be send by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or by post:
Planning Policy, Technical Services Department,
Town Hall, Wandsworth High Street,
London, SW18 2PU
Forms can be found in local libraries. You can also contribute directly on the Council’s website HERE.
You letter could be made with the following points:
- Do you consider the Core Strategy is sound? = Yes/No
- Do you consider the Core Strategy is unsound because it is not = (1) Justified/(2) Effective/(3) Consistent with national policy
- Please give details of why you consider the relevant Core Strategy policy is not legally compliant or is unsound. Please be as precise as possible. If you wish to support the legal compliance or soundness of the DPD, please also use this box to set out your comments. = … (the term relates to specific tests of soundness given in government guidance PPS12)
- Please set out what change(s) you consider necessary to make the Core Strategy legally compliant or sound, having regard to the test you have identified in the question above (Justified/ Effective/ Consistent with National Policy) where this relates to soundness. You will need to say why this change will make the DPD legally compliant or sound. It will be helpful if you are able to put forward your suggested revised wording of any policy or text. Please be as precise as possible. = …
- If your representation is seeking a change, do you consider it necessary to participate at the oral part of the examination? = NO/YES, I wish to participate at the oral examination
- If you wish to participate at the oral part of the examination, please outline why you consider this to be necessary: = …
Last but not least: big thank to Martin Howell who took time to explain about the Council’s work and was in the challenging position of representing the Council’s views.