How does the Council allow substantial modifications of an application without much notice

2 mins read

Author: Cyril Richert
Following the last article on the Travelodge built in Clapham Junction, we made an investigation on the apparent modification on the structure of the implemented hotel construction, with the pop-up elevator plant on top of the hotel and the cladding used for the elevation, as it looked very different from the initial architect submission.
The initial application 2010/1455 was submitted in April 2010 (approved 30/06/2010) and referred to a 70-bedroom hotel. The overall size was 27 meters. CJAG send a comment HERE, and although supporting the efforts for a much more “reasonable” application, said “we still consider that the design of the building would be more appropriate with 1 or 2 storeys less“. For the consultation, 5 objections were received, 1 support and 2 general comments along with the Battersea Society, Wandsworth Society, Wandsworth Conservation Area Advisory Committee representations.
However the approved application presented structural problem (they eventually needed to destroy the full existing structure)  and the developer decided to resubmit another application 2010/5377, approved in March 2011. This time the number of rooms increased to 77 bedrooms, but the overall size was dropped by 1 meter, to 26m. In respect to the size drop despite the room number extension, we decided to support the application. For the consultation the Council received 2 objections, a support form CJAG and objection from the Wandsworth Access Association amongst other comments.
It is now obvious that the application 2010/5377 that we supported was not the one that was implemented, or at least substantial changes were made. We contacted the planning officer in charge, Mr Landsberg, for information.
In fact, 3 other applications for amendments were submitted in the following months:

  1. 2011/2627, granted on the 17th August 2011, which allowed for an extra 7 bedrooms at the hotel (84 bedrooms in total), and also allowed for minor alterations to the elevations of the building.
  2. 2012/1255, granted on the 12th July 2012, which allowed for alterations to the elevations of the building and a repositioning of the plant room at roof level, the overall size being now 27.6m.
  3. 2012/3590, granted on the 7th September 2012, which allowed for the alterations to the materials to be used on the elevations of the building, and for the new/additional ‘pop up’ section of the plant room.

From application 2010/1455 to 2011/2627, the number of rooms increase by 20%! Although the developer was telling us that an increase of 10% isn’t “going to make a significant difference to any activity etc that a hotel of 70 rooms would create“, it can no longer be sustained that the 14 additional bedrooms will not have any impact on the activity. However the officer told me that he did not consider the reference to 2010/1455 (70 rooms) relevant as this is 2010/5377 (77 rooms) that was amended.
However, as I pointed out, he was happy to accept the drawing on application 2012/3590 referring a “minor” increase of size of the overall structure in comparison to approved planning 2010/1455 to allow an ugly pop-up elevator plan raising the building to 27.6 meters. You can see the reference in the following drawing (click to see bigger):
2012.3590-Drawing ref 1455.pdf
As we claim that we did not receive any consultation letter for the different amendments, the officer certified several time that he did sent them. The fact is that report 2011/2627 quotes only 1 objection and nothing else, and 2012/1255 has no response at all. No consultation nor report was made for 2012/3590.
In comparison to the image provided by the developer for application 2010/1455, we were told that changes in the quality of cladding (using a cheaper material to reduce cost) was made. However it could not be confirmed by Mr Landsberg as details on cladding was only received with application 2010/5377 on only the colours, not the quality was changed in application 2012/1255.
However it raises questions as how a the planning officers and the Council can judge on the quality of a design and on the integration of the building with the surrounding when such elements are not considered to grant planning application.

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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.