Peabody redevelopment: our response to the consultation

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You will find below our response addressed to Peabody, regarding their redevelopment proposal for the estate at Clapham Junction (you can download the PDF here).

Following the two days of consultation last week, we are now writing to you to submit our “official” comments on the proposal.
The current Peabody Estate is architecturally undistinguished, badly laid out, and poorly integrated with the rest of Clapham Junction town centre. So there is plenty to be said in principle for a redevelopment and the proposed new scheme has many good points. It will conform with new government criteria regarding repair/redevelopment of estates; it will open up the estate to the wider locality; and it will deliver much more diversity in terms of size, shape, texture, and colour in the new buildings.
But we do have criticisms. There is no escaping the fact that, if the plans are implemented as they stand, the new estate will have a transformatory visual effect on the whole neighbourhood. The height of the current buildings is five storeys, higher than most local buildings, but not substantially so. Yet it seems that several of the proposed new buildings will be ten storeys, and at least one twelve storeys, more than doubling the height of much of the estate.
When coupled with the fact that the estate lies at the top of St John’s Hill, on comparatively much higher ground than the rest of the town centre (something which, incidentally, the exhibition model failed to illustrate), there can be no doubt that the proposed scheme will create a looming, architecturally distinct, presence, dominating the locality in a way that the existing estate simply does not. The eight storeys of the Granada/Lumiere building nearby, which were permitted by the Council against local opposition as an exception to existing planning guidance (in order to maintain/sustain the old auditorium), are already an eyesore. One or more of the proposed new Peabody buildings will be fifty percent higher than that.
History and experience suggest that multistorey blocks, which are significantly out of kilter with the rest of Clapham Junction, will simply become the new normal (at least for developers, if not for Council officers). Five years ago, the area consisted almost exclusively of 3-5 storey buildings. Within a few years we have moved to 8 and now potentially to 12. Yet two years ago a thousand local residents expressed their opposition to tall buildings in Clapham Junction.  When the much needed redevelopment of Clapham Junction station takes place almost anything could be put forward. Who can credibly argue that 12 storeys on the Peabody will not set a new precedent for height in what is currently still a stylistically cohesive and relatively low rise environment?
During the consultation we have heard voices expressing similar concerns about the size of the proposed construction. Although we acknowledge and support the idea of redeveloping the current site, we believe that some minor amendments could allow the new Peabody Estate to integrate in a more sympathetic way with the local environment.
For example, you should consider lowering the tallest tower(s) with or without change to other buildings. The residential capacity lost from one or two planned twelve storey buildings can very easily be redistributed with increases elsewhere around the estate. This is indisputable. However many opponents may argue that this will somehow damage the alleged design integrity or architectural vision of the scheme, such alterations won’t create any major new difficulty in terms of shadowing or bulking, but will certainly show more respect for the character of Clapham Junction and the Northcote area.
The height (but not density) reduction will plainly create a less intrusive, more harmonious presence that also significantly reduces the potential for development excess elsewhere in the future.
Addressing and not ignoring the worry of many local residents in Clapham Junction would demonstrate an undeniable concern for the inhabitants of the area. This should be the purpose of your consultation, before you make a definite submission for planning permission in a few months. We look forward – with optimism – to your response.

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We have received the following response from Richard Stanway-Williams:

Sent : Friday 25 Novembre 2011 15:52
Object : RE: Peabody redevelopment – Comments from CJAG
Hi Cyril
Thank you for taking the time to visit the Exhibition and for your letter. Obviously I am delighted to see that, in principle, you agree to Peabody ’s plans albeit with concerns over the height of the buildings.
As you might imagine we are in the process of collating the comments and feedback received over the past few weeks but I will respond to your suggestions, observations and concerns in due course. I would suggest that I come and meet with you, along with any other of your colleagues, to explain how we intend to deal with the points you have raised. A sensible time for this would be next month when we have more detail from the Architects of the proposed buildings. I trust you would find this helpful.
I will be in touch in due course.
Regards

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You can also read our other articles:

We encourage anyone to send their message (and feel free to copy us/post it in our contact box):
Email: clapham.development@peabody.org.uk
Post: Richard Stanway-Williams, Peabody,
45 Westminster Bridge Rd, London, SE1 7JB

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CJAG News 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.

4 Comments

  1. I just bought a flat on Eckstein road and am really worried about the effect of this redevelopment on the feel of my new neighbourhood.
    The height of buildings is of obvious concern.
    Please keep these updates coming and I too would like to be involved in discussions with architects and their proposals. Please let me know when these meetings are taking place via response to this comment. (i will be notified of responses to this comment via email).
    Many thanks.

    • It is important that you send you concern to the Peabody Trust (email/address above) and you can copy your ward councilors and of course CJAG.
      Updates will be posted on this website as soon as we know more. There is currently no date for a meeting and I doubt anything will happen before January 2012.

  2. Thank you Cyril…a lot of work and well put.
    I have sent ‘my concern’ to the Peabody trust as indicated.
    I am afraid these planning matters sneak past most people because they are not well enough informed. I am not sure what the situation is now re Section 106 which I know has been changed, but presumably the Council get a payment pro rata to size of the building? I think it is now slightly less like a bribe from the developer.
    However any such payment cannot fail to be a disincentive for the Council to do what local people want: to keep buildings to a domestic height appropriate for our area.

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