Consultation: Has Wandsworth any protected views?

3 mins read

The Council is asking now people to comment on the draft document for local views within the borough. This document aims at defining the different types of view that have some local significance and deserve protection within the borough.
We have doubts on the values of the document as most of it is focused on Nine Elms and the Battersea Power Station, and those views are going to change (as acknowledged in the document). There is no mention at all of Clapham Junction and the views within the Conservation Area (no need to be protected anymore?).During the Planning Forum meeting in April 2013, Martin Howell, Group Planner, said that there will be a shorter list of views. This is indeed short, as according to the document we have now 7 views instead of nearly 40. However this seems inaccurate as the following pages of the document show only 6 views instead of 7. In addition, with the exception of view 1 (Putney Bridge) and view 2 (Battersea Bridge), all the rest focus on the Battersea Power Station…. which is going to change probably sooner rather than later. And that is even acknowledged on page 14:

This view will change as the redevelopment of Nine Elms takes place. One Nine Elms, when constructed, will be prominent at the centre of the view next to the existing Vauxhall Tower. Next to this will be the towers proposed as part of the redevelopment of the New Covent Garden Market site. The emerging tall buildings cluster at Vauxhall will eventually form a dramatic focal point in the distance.

On view 4 (p16) it says “It is important that the distinctive silhouette of the four iconic chimneys of the Power Station should remain as a dominant feature on the skyline.

The “protected view” has already been damaged by planning applications; the photo montage (above) shows clearly that with the new developments surrounding the power stations, the view of more than half of the two chimneys on the south side of the building will disappear.
Therefore in our views, there is only 3 different focal points to protect. With the views on the Battersea Power Station already partly gone, there is only two remaining. What is the point of the Local View document?
The Council is making a U-turn on its policy for visual representation
We noticed that there is here a U-turn from the previous policy as expressed in the Development Management Policies Document.
In the Appendix (para 59) it says

The guidance suggests the equivalent of a 50 mm lens on a 35 mm format camera may be appropriate but that different tasks require different approaches.

This contradicts the DMPD, para 2.49 page 23:

The use of wide-angle lenses, for example, can distort perspective and distance, and thus the relationship between the foreground and background, and this will not be acceptable”.

The DMPD guidance seemed to have been set following the government inspector’s report on the Ram Brewery inquiry, who wrote (p7):

Guidance on how to prepare AVRs consistently indicates that images should ideally be made within a 40° field of view (FOV); beyond that, the perceived shapes of surrounding buildings may be distorted […]  the use of a wide angle lens has the effect of distorting perspective and distance, and thus the spatial relationship between foreground and background. Existing buildings, and therefore the new ones, appear further away or smaller than they are or would be in reality, This was particularly apparent to me when I compared the AVRs to the actual views from the same viewpoints and is also demonstrated in the Wandsworth Society’s comparable 40º AVRs.
[…] the applicant’s AVRs cannot be taken as accurately representing what would be seen by the human eye.

And in case we have not understood enough that wide angle images are perfectly fine, the proposed document on local view concludes in para. 65:

Overall the LVMF guidance and industry experts suggest that wider angle lenses can be used particularly for townscape analysis as they can portray peripheral information about a view that a closer image would not.

There is absolutely no doubt at all that this aim to validate the view of most developers with tall building schemes where the usage of wide-angle lenses minimises the impact of the development on the surrounding.
In explaining their methodology, the domain expert company Miller Hare explains:

In the simple case the lens selection will be that which provides a comfortable Viewing Distance. This would normally entail the use of what most photographers would refer to as a “standard” or “normal” lens, which in practice means the use of a lens […] between about 40 and 58 mm.

Miller Hare explains that the use of a wide angle lens is meant to provide additional information such as context, number of buildings, etc. It does not say that this is what the naked eye would see when the development is complete.

It is important that it is recognised that this is not a substitute for viewing the images in the field. In any event, a reasonable representation should be sufficient in printed form never mind in screen form it is after all not going to be realistic.
Therefore the policy and guidance should clearly state that the aim should be for understandable and unbiased representation. When used for the purpose of illustration, especially for the public, it must be clearly specified that this is provided by the developer and may not represent what will be seen by a naked eye.

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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. Hello Cyril
    I couldn’t agree with you more on your most excellent piece above… the view points completely take away from the beautiful Battersea Londons and ‘the worlds’ energy context landmark….Here are a few more links for BATTERSEA locals to view at this crucial CONSULTATION period..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCM5ETcY0RU&feature=youtube_gdata_player
    I hope this might be the right place to share our current local feelings Here too as you know….
    We are also currently to in CONSULTATION period being SOLD up stream here at WINSTANLEY RD Regeneration master plan whereby their are plans to bold on historical YORK GARDENS..we are looking for preservation here.where 100o/o of residents agree that York RD estate side is good for redevelopment it is the central Winstanley estate areas which comprise the last if the low rise buildings dating back to 1960s..GANLEY COURT may well have been in Ken Loaches ‘Wednesday diaries’ which led to ‘Up the Junction’ in which I am calling for a remake we may even get Kevin BROWNLOW on board as a point of social and historical reference for his film ‘Winstanley’1976.
    Lots to do… Cyril you are doing an amazingly great job at keeping all this live for all to researches and pay attention to…if any one at all here want to contribute to a film and or have any great stories to share maybe the BBC BATTERSEA Brick Campaign we just started would be a good place one brick at a time any thoughts or feed back please do keep in contact with any positive ways forward for all… best BATTERSEA wishes for all Lucy

    • Dear Lucy,
      I am just writing a piece on the Winstanley regeneration proposal currently. It was actually discussed within our group meeting yesterday and we need to get more views of local people, what they think of the 3 options, what about York garden being integrated/reduced, what about new towers dressed along the rail-line…etc.
      Maybe we could meet?

      • Hi Cyril have just left a message for you about meeting in York gardens library this week any morning or early eve is good maybe we’d 20th 10-1pm you mentioned there is another planners public meeting would be good so we can refer to current options boards and feedback so far form the wider WINSTANKEY estate…I will be there at 10 am if your free see you there too Lucy

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