Why we ask for amendments on the Peabody proposal

4 mins read

Author: Cyril Richert
We have commented in a previous article about the new proposal released for the redevelopment of the Peabody estate in Clapham Junction.
Peabody Trust released their first newsletter which introduces the proposal, advertises the public exhibition and the consultation website for the redevelopment of Peabody Estate, in Clapham Junction.
Beside the notable arguments in favour of the proposal (due to the new government criteria for estates, Peabody must repair/redevelop some of its estates, including Clapham Junction; a new plan will also aim to open the estate to the neighbourhood; the layout will show more diversity in term of sizes, shapes and colours for the blocks) we highlight a number of criticisms.
Points of objection:
The main criticism is obviously the size of some buildings.
1. Located at the top of the hill a 12 storey tower will appear to be about 16 storeys when viewed from Arding and Hobbs/Debenhams opposite pavement (because of the seventy foot tall hill that it sits on).
2. Near the Arding and Hobbs/Debenhams road junction a building of 16 storeys was refused in June 25th 2009. The officer’s report said that “due to its sheer size [the development] would fail to preserve the appearance of the area“. A building of 8 storeys and similar size as the directly opposite building – was later granted permission.
3. The area is inappropriate for buildings more than 5 storeys. Although the Council changed the description of the site lately, we demonstrated that the original description of the Peabody site as lying entirely outside the town centre should be retained: a scheme has to be granted for its own merit, not by using tricks to overturn the current policies.
4. Opposite the site, a 8-storey building, taller than the surrounding, was granted permission. The main merit of the scheme was to ensure the retention of the former Granada cinema but 4 years later the refurbishment of the auditorium is still await. The 8 storey development is now highly visible and obstructive from the Junction.
In an area with buildings of 3-4 storeys, the Council allowed nearly 50% more on the basis that it would bring the benefit of the refurbishment of the Granada auditorium. Now we are asked to approve another 50% increase – 12 and 10 storeys, because a 8 storeys exists already and it will benefit the much needed redevelopment of the estate. What next ? A 18 storeys because a 12 will be there, in order to compromise for example for the benefit of the much needed redevelopment of Clapham Junction station ? Do we want to carry on that trend ?
Five years ago, the area was only made of buildings of 3-4 storeys. Within a few years we are moving to 8 and now 12… while a thousand local resident expressed their disagreement against tall building in Clapham Junction just 2 years ago.
We have received personal comments from local residents, including members of Wandsworth Living Streets, the Wandsworth Society and the Battersea Society. They say:

Redevelopment is now required (the present buildings are seriously unattractive; there is an awful lot of wasted paved over space). They think the scheme is generally a distinct improvement on the first one, less cluttered looking. They do sympathise with Peabody knowing they have to make a financially viable proposal, even with a social housing project. They support the social housing objective. The Trust has to somehow make the figures add up, and they need income.
Some have concerns about the population density and the height of the buildings. Going from 5 story to 11-12 story buildings will affect the area (increased shadows and extra strain on the already over crowded foot paths and street). 12 storeys is still too tall (although much better than the previous 21). Walking down Battersea Rise from the common, the 8 storey Granada development looms above the existing streetscape in an unpleasant manner. Their proposals need some further modifications. The arguments about height with the old Granada building are very pertinent. We seem to have been left with a permanent eyesore. The 8 storeys on the Lumiere were supposedly an “exception” permitted by the Council against local opposition. There is no doubt a slippery slope could easily come into operation, permiting at some future date yet higher buildings close by. A 12-storey building could be used as the thin end of the wedge, and before we know where we are, the Council will suggest that a 16-storey building in the area would be fine, as it is not really so very different from 12.
They question the necessity of the shops as there is not much street frontage towards St John’s Hill. The estate marks a natural end of the town centre shops – so no need for any more on St John’s Hill. A bit more greenery needed, and of course permeable. There appears to be little planting to the square proposed to “green” the area. There are also some concern about trees, balance between surface and underground car parking, provision for cyclists — securing bikes, movement through the estate, provision for children’s play areas. There’s no mention of bike parking …  absolutely crucial if we want to minimise car use, pollution and congestion in the area
There is a shared concern on the future of the entrance lodge, an attractive late C19 building on the western tip of the sit in Strath Terrace – which must be a relic of the previous use of the site as an orphanage.  Should the plan be modified to allow it to be retained?

Peabody Trust has shown some understanding in its consultations. They have already changed their plan, reducing the density of the proposal by 20% and the size of some buildings consequently. We still believe that some amendments are needed in order for us to support the scheme and we will discuss the points with them during their public meetings. This should be the purpose of their consultation, before a definite submission for planning permission in early 2012.

We encourage everyone to let them know your opinion (feel free to copy us in any correspondence):
Email: clapham.development@peabody.org.uk
Post: Richard Stanway-Williams, Peabody,
45 Westminster Bridge Rd, London, SE1 7JB
The public exhibition dates are as follows:

  1. Tuesday 15 November 4pm – 8pm
  2. Saturday 19 November 10am – 2pm

And will be held in St Mark’s Church Hall, Boutflower Road (next to the estate).


In response to the comment from Dave Curran below, I publish some photos, showing impact on taller building according to the Google View he pointed out.

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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. Thanks for these two useful updates on this project. I think we should be wary of overemphasising the argument that the tower will look 16 storeys rather than 12 – as when you look along the road, your reference point is really the height relative to the road; the average person’s eyes will look along the roadway, not at a spirit level “horizontal”. I recognise most readers probably won’t agree with me, but I think that overplaying this angle might undermine any wider discussion somewhat. Looking at this view, for example –
    …the buildings on the left after the Grand (half way up the hill, where the double decker bus is) look three storeys, not five, in my opinion. The question should really be, is 12 storeys right for the site – looking from the west, which is dominated by 5-ish storey buildings.
    On the shops front – noting that some have questioned the need for these, I reckon there is a credible argument that shops will help the proposal. The street to the east is quite dominated by busy retail, and the street at the west rather suffers from the loss of continuity. It’s an unusual section with no shops on either side, and when compared with the Lavender Hill, it rather prompts any visitors to the station area not to continue up the hill, limiting the traffic to the businesses at the top of the hill (which include some rather good pubs and cafes!). Shops may also liven it up a bit and reduce the risk of creating yet another soulless deserted modern residential complex (as we’ve got more than enough of those by the riverside already). At a push, they may also help the street have a bit more ‘natural surveilance’ – as quiet, empty sections can be rather more intimidating in the evening than retail areas. I know that the Granada Cinema has an additional shop planned at the ground level, which may also help in this regard (if the works ever complete – and it does seem to be a very slow process; as I understand it an evangelical church has taken a lease, and I have seen builders at work in the lower level recently, but they’re not exactly burning the midnight oil).
    There does seem to be less open space in the revised proposal – comparing with the initial concept, I have a feeling that the height has been reduced, but that to do this, lateral density has increased – several of the blocks are quite a bit thicker. The presence of clear sight lines through the development, and of decent pedestrian routes, is a definite plus of the plans – ideally the main diagonal will have a section open to cycles (to access the station). A pedestrian crossing between this route and the new station entrance would be a good complement to this new route – possibly a Section 106 option. By and large I still think this is a marked improvement overall on what’s there now, and hope that Peabody are able to make it add up rather than selling it to someone else to redevelop.

    • Thanks for your comment, Dave.
      The fact that the Peabody estate is at the tp of the hill is important. As someone said, “the 8 storey Granada development looms above the existing streetscape in an unpleasant manner”. It is only 8 storey but this is now a proeminent building that is blocking the view from the bottom of St John’s Hill.
      However I understand the point. The Peabody Estate is behind some already larger building such as the Grand. I took your view from Google Map and made some quick comparison in hights that i posted at the bottom of the article. Tall buildings have a definite impact on the surrounding.
      In term of shop units we are only talking of 2 or 3. Quickly after the beginning you have the bridge accross the railway and there is not street frontage anymore. To include the bridge within the town-centre with the excuse of more shops is preposterous.
      Regarding the Grand, yes my understanding of the planning application is also the a Church should be using the premises.
      Regarding Section 106, it can no longer be used to collect monies and it has been replaced by Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). Nine Elms’s CIL are currently the highest CIL amongst the borough.

  2. I have been a resident in Battersea all my life and for 42 years in Comyn Road. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss with you the following issues, which I believe have not been taken into account in the Peabody Clapham Development proposals.
    Requirements for 21st century housing
    The present Peabody site has been in use for 80 years. In all probability the new properties built on this site must reflect the changing demographics for the next 80 years and should take that into account:
    • Increasing elderly population
    With an increasing elderly population it is more likely that there will be a greater need for disabled facilities in all dwellings. The present plans are providing only a limited number of dwellings adapted for disable people. This is amazingly short sighted. It makes logistic and moral sense to ensure that all the dwellings are brought up to the same standard for disabled people as is practised in major civilised countries.
    • Increasing demand of single occupancy dwellings.
    Data from GLA Intelligence Update (February 2011) DMAG Demography Team
    2001 2006 2011 2016 2021 2026 2031
    Population projection for LB Wandsworth (thousands) 272.2 284.0 303.2 317.8 333.3 344.1 349.1
    No of Households required in LB Wandsworth (thousands) 119.4 122.5 127.9 133.5 141.4 148.1 151.8
    Single occupancy households Greater London (thousands) 1070.8 1188.1 1299.2 1426.5 1537.7 1635.8 1711.3
    Single occupancy households Greater London (thousands) as a percentage of total households 35.3% 37.7% 39.4% 41% 42% 43% 44%
    Over the next 20 years there is a growing demand for single occupancy and there is no indication that this trend will not continue.
    • Size of the development
    The proposed plan of 550 dwellings is an increase of 55% on the present site, yet there are no realistic plans for dealing with the 55% increase in demand for parking spaces. On the present site there are 127 spaces for cars and because of the reduced occupancy of the present site these spaces are not fully used, but visitors and residents of Peabody do park their cars in the surrounding roads after 18:30 in the evening. Parking spaces after 18:30 are at a premium. With the reduction of street parking due to the proposals of building an entrance in Comyn Road and the increase in dwellings will only results in more pressure on parking spaces especially in Comyn, Severus and Eckstein Road. Has the extra demand for the utilities been properly researched?
    The proposed buildings
    • Height of buildings
    The existing Victorian terraced housing surrounding the Peabody site consists of 3 storeys. The present buildings in Peabody are 5 storeys high and are austere and ugly. The site is not flat and the proposal to build a 12 storey block on this site it totally unacceptable. A 12 storey block would be equivalent to a much higher building when seen from St Johns Road and I believe that the actual model as shown at the exhibition in St Marks Church Hall is extremely misleading as it does not take into account the gradient of the area. Being close to an international flight path, a major hazard is immediately created by putting 12 storeys on top of a hill.
    • Artist impression of proposed buildings
    The artist impression as shown at the exhibition shows a lack of imagination in creating buildings which are more sympathetic with the existing properties. Instead the proposals are very barrack-like with front doors immediately opening onto the walk ways with no separation with a small garden area. The proposed blocks facing Comyn Road and Eckstein Road should only be 3 storeys high.
    • Provisions for children
    It is very important that the there is a community centre within the development, but it is also important that there are other facilities for children including a play area and enclosed games pitch as exists in the present estate. It is also important to soften the look of the streets by planting trees along the streets, now possible with the removal of the electricity sub-station in Comyn Road.
    • Removal of Peabody wall along Comyn Road and Eckstein Road
    This wall is ugly and the removal of it is a good thing, but it is important to ensure that the space between the existing buildings is preserved to allow for environmental spaces.
    • The proposed new entrance in Comyn Road.
    The flow of traffic in Comyn Road during busy periods creates friction amongst car drivers. Usually a blockage of traffic occurs when traffic from Boutiflower Road enters Comyn Road whilst other vehicals are trying to go up Comyn Road from Eckstein Road. This blockage is caused by cut-through drivers from Battersea Rise to St John’s Hill and a major blockage is caused. Greater volume of traffic including heavy lorries using Comyn Road to access Peabody is going to create major problems.
    Management of construction
    If the re-development of Peabody goes ahead, it will make the lives of the residents of Peabody and those in the surrounding neighbourhood a nightmare for at least 5/6 years, blighting the area and the community with noise, heavy goods traffic and environmental pollution. The completed buildings must not be an eye-sore.
    I have major misgivings about whether these proposals have been made taking the above issues into account. I am horrified that any plans should include buildings which are higher than those that are there at present. The eye-sore of the extension on the old Granada building is an example of total disregard for the existing neighbourhood.

    • It was a pleasure to meet with you and your husband on Tuesday.
      Disable access to the dwellings: this is an issue that I put on my list to discuss with the developers on Saturday.
      Parking space: my understanding is that they plan only 30% (~150) parking (which means roughly the same number as existing). Developers have argued that in another Peabody Estate that has been recently redeveloped they have not planned any parking at all. They also plan that new residents of Peabody won’t be allowed to have any parking zone permitted.
      This is a general trend around Clapham Junction station when developers seem to take advantage of the location to justify that they increase the density without any provision for parking. That’s exactly the same argument used for the recent development of student accommodations in Grant Road.
      And apparently the Council is happy to grant applications to all developments planning no or limited parking (in opposition, in a city like Paris, all the new developments need to have parking, this a a mandatory requirement).
      I will definitely discuss the many concerns of your comment with the developers and will report in a full article next week on this website.

  3. One of the main things this exhibition was meant to show residences is what these building were going to look like. They did have two models and drawings but I was told that the facades of the buildings were still in the design stage. They also had a model of the area but this seemed to be from 10,000 feet above most of Wandsworth.
    I, like others felt that this exhibition failed to properly show the true height of these buildings. The model was to small! Why didn’t they make available their 3d studio max models on a laptop? Or even use a SketchUp Model integrated into Google map\Google street view to help show anyone from the area what they will see from their homes, the station etc. The only reason I can think of is that they were trying to hide the size of the buildings! When I spoke to one architect he seemed very confident that this will be granted council approval and had an attitude that this design was kind of like doing our neighbourhood a big favour!
    Personally I think the residences of Clapham junction should reject this scheme. A 12 story building is going to stand out like no other (regardless of design) if these people are aloud to go through with this. If they put a few shops and a nice square, yes it will open up the new station entrance to St. Johns hill but the 12 story structure will be an eye sore!
    To summaries the Peabody estate will be getting a revamp regardless but financially it’s in their own interest to capitalise on their prime location but at our expense!

  4. Well it has begun, the dreaded drilling and this is just to put up fencing around the blocks ready for demolishing ….I’m in 2nd phase and not looking forward to the noise and dust !

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