A new 16 storey tower proposed near York Road

5 mins read
View of the proposal for 2-18 Yelverton Rd, London SW11

There is a new application (2019/2295) for erection of a part 3/16 storey mixed-use development plus basement, providing nearly 600 sq.m of commercial office + creative workspace at ground and basement levels and 74 residential units at upper levels; communal garden on the 3rd floor; with 6 car parking spaces. The site is currently occupied by the Sambrook’s Brewery which should relocate.

35% of shared ownership

Of the 74 units, 26 are designated as affordable housing, representing over 35% of the total number on site (which exceeds the 33% target for the borough). We note that the proposal will provide 100% intermediate affordable housing while the London Affordable Housing Targets, states “60% of the affordable housing provision should be for social and affordable rent
and 40% for intermediate rent or sale”. However, this level was agreed with the GLA during pre-application discussions (as usual the developer used the financial viability assessment  to demonstrate that it was doing the maximum feasible).

Criterias for the shared ownership are:

  • 50% of the 1-beds to be affordable to applicants with gross household incomes up to £47,000 p.a.
  • 50% of the 2-beds to be affordable to applicants with gross household incomes up to £57,000 p.a.
  • 50% of the 3-beds to be affordable to applicants with gross household incomes up to £63,000 p.a.
  • The remaining shared ownership units must be affordable to applicants with gross household incomes up to £90,000 p.a.

In order to contain service charge, all affordable housing will be contained into one block.

The Design review panel applauds the layout and articulation of the building

The body set by the Council to give advice on the scheme expressed a very favourable opinion: “We are generally comfortable with the scale and massing of the building, and the ground floor uses which are consistent with the approach on adjacent sites.” In judging on the height of the building, they considered the proposed Leisure Centre block within the Winstanley / York Road Masterplan (which should reach 32 storeys), despite the fact that nothing has been granted yet. It tells a lot on the confidence of the Council that it would be built, whatever are the objections!

In their report, the Panel was especially pleased with the level of refinement and details proposed, as well as with the layout and articulation of the building.

Objections on parking

Objections from residents include the parking congestion that it will create inside a zone where it is already difficult to park in the evening (“I have lived on this road for many years, and have to wait every evening when I come back from work just to get a parking space“, says when local resident).

The proposal of a rooftop garden on the 3rd floor will mean anyone is welcome to enter the garden and peer into the adjacent residences resulting in a large reduction in privacy.

York Road turned into an area of tall buildings in just a few years

It has become a habit: since Wandsworth Council decided (of course not publicly during electoral campaign) that York Road was to become an area of high density buildings, developers have a lot of fun (see here and there for instance). In view of the number of towers of more than 15 storeys that have been proposed, approved and constructed within the last 3 years, anything less than 30 storeys should be approved based on similarity.

An image illustrating the development activity on the designated Lombard Rd / York Rd sites [number of storeys in red].
In the graph above, none of the towers above 10 storeys (with the exception of the 15-storey heliport and the 24 storeys at 15 Yelverton Rd) existed 3 years ago ! (and it all started with the 28-storey Lombard Road tower, built despite multiple objections and contrary to the then local policy – which was amended later to suit the need).

An update list of the recent constructions, approved developments and current proposals is:

  • Heliport Heights [p.a. 2013/6052]: Up to 20 storeys (15 storeys over the existing five-storey Heliport House), 14 residential units, 0 % (0) Affordable Housing. APPROVED 17/07/2014.
  • 12-14 Lombard Rd [p.a 2014/6909]: Up to 28 storeys, 135 residential units, 20 % (27) Affordable Housing (100% Intermediate/shared ownership units). APPROVED 12/06/2015 and Completed.
  • 198 York Rd (Homebase Site) [p.a. 2017/3699]: Up to 24 storeys, 299 residential units, 15 % (50)  Affordable Housing (100% Intermediate). APPROVED 22/10/2015 and Under Construction.
  • 98 York Rd Lookers [p.a. 2015/5308]: Up to 17 storeys, 173 residential units, 25 % (43) Affordable Housing (100% Intermediate). APPROVED 18/12/2015.and Under Construction.
  • 55-66 Gwynne Road [p.a. 2014/5357]: Up to 14 storeys, 33 residential units, 33 % (11) Affordable Housing (100% Intermediate). APPROVED 07/01/2016 and Completed.
  • Plantation Wharf [p.a. 2016/5644]: Up to 18 storeys, 127 residential units, no agreement on Affordable Housing. APPROVED 23/03/2017
  • Candle Makers, 100 York Rd [p.a. 2017/0745]: Up to 25 storeys, 136 residential units, 21 % (28) Affordable Housing (100% Intermediate). APPROVED 20/07/2017 (awaiting GLA).
  • 58-70 York Rd [p.a. 2017/5818]: Up to 14 storeys, 82 residential units, 35 % (29) Affordable Housing (100% Intermediate). APPROVED 02/05/2018 and Under Construction.
  • Business Park (Big Yellow Site) [p.a. 2018/3776]: Up to 20 storeys, 168 residential units, 35.7 % (60) Affordable Housing (21 Intermediate / 39 Affordable).
  • APPROVED 18/04/2019.
  • Winstanley Estate [Phase 0 = p.a. 2017/6864; p.a. 2019/0024]: = likely to be around 500 along York Road (Block 1=239 private sale units; Block 5=136 affordable units; Block 6=64 private sale units and 63 affordable units along York Road with up to 2550 residential units for the full redevelopment of the estates). Phase 0 APPROVED 02/05/2018 and Under Construction.

TOTAL so far = 168+299+82+173+135+33+136+14+127= 1167 units
+239+136+64+63 = 502 units from Winstanley-York
=1669 units 
along York road only

The only major transport improvement currently being considered is Crossrail 2, likely not to happen for the next 15 to 20 years, and still under discussion for funding.


This new building is probably one of the smallest that is proposed for the York Road area, and therefore (assuming that we ignore the cumulative impact of the new constructions, as does Wandsworth Council), seems well integrated with the adjacent properties with the use of a podium to support the tower.

NB: 4 years ago, Wandsworth local plan indicated that building above 9 storeys would be unlikely to be approved… then you can just consider how seriously the Council is considering their own policies.

UPDATE 25/03/2020: A revised scheme was submitted at the end of the year 2019 (still the same p.a. 2019/2295). The main change consist in the affordable housing provision being changed, at the request of the Greater London Authority (GLA) to include affordable rent tenure as well as intermediate shared ownership tenure (originally it was 100% intermediate).

As a consequence, the overall percentage of affordable has been reduced from 35% to 19.4% affordable provision per habitable room (the work space has also been reduced from 231sq.m to 173sq.m and the number of car parking spaces within the basement has been reduced from 6 to 5).

The Battersea Society strongly opposed the scheme and wrote:

“The Battersea Society objects most strongly to these revisions which do nothing to address the overbearing design yet reduce the quantity of affordable housing down to 19%, with the proportion of 1-bedroom flats at 26% being substantially above the policy maximum of 20%.

This application should be refused on design grounds alone but these proposed changes are further reasons to ask the site owners to think again and return with proposals which are sympathetic to the streetscape and meet policies set down by both Wandsworth Council and the Greater London Authority.”

As usual the reduction was justified by planning officers with their usual wording (…some impact… however… considered acceptable):

“The proposed unit mix does not strictly accord with the numeric targets. However, due to particular circumstances and complementing the surrounding existing housing stock, the proposed unit mix is considered acceptable.

[…] The proposal would result in some impact upon the amenities of neighbouring properties due to the tight constraints of the site. However, given the extent of infringement and the townscape context of substantial buildings within an urban location, the level of impact has been assessed as acceptable.”

With no surprised the scheme was granted permission by the Planning Application Committee meeting on 20 February 2020.

CJAG is also providing a tool to generate automatic planning reports, so you will see how the planning department is used to justify any planning application, disregarding their impact. Using this automatic tool, you quickly realise how absurd are those reports that can outcome all objections through meaningless words and expressions that have been used too often by officers.

All our tools are presented on this page: CJAG Tools for planning consultation

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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.