Developers for a 25 storey towers in York Road are submitting new plans to increase the number of units from 136 to 177, cramming 46 more 1-bed flats into the building.
The initial scheme for a 25 storey building comprising 136 flats that was approved in May 2017 should not change much externally. However, the new scheme (p.a. 2022/0249) is proposing to convert the existing larger apartments into 41 additional units in the 88 meters tower block (including 11 affordable, in order to keep the same portion of 35% affordable) making a total of 177 units. This is managed with a huge increase of 1 bed-flats from 36 to 82, while the 2-bed units stay similar (from 80 to 86) and the 3-bed units decrease from 20 to 9.
They also proposed a reduction in basement and car spaces (41 spaces instead of 85 originally proposed). At least there is a positive news for the future inhabitants: instead of being reserved for the top “penthouses”, the roof terrace has been amended to become accessible to all residents (as the 4 penthouses have been transformed into 5 apartments).
A scheme already in breach of planning policies
As per Wandsworth Core Strategy 2016 there is a requirement of 60% social/affordable rent and 40% intermediate within new constructions. However the proposal is showing only intermediate housing to be provided.
Luxury penthouses might no longer be trendy, better cram tiny flats into huge towers now
Times are hard for property developers who wonder whether they will be able to sell those luxury flats in huge glass towers that they are building in Wandsworth. With the Covid crisis and now the uncertainty brought by the war in Ukraine, even wealthy people able to afford a multi-millions pounds dwelling might be more cautious.
Therefore, a solution seems to be to ditch all larger units and cram as many 1-bed flats as possible in new developments. Proportionally, you can make much more profit selling small units and the Council makes more Council tax with more dwellings, so if you put apart the existing local residents, it seems a good deal.
That is exactly what they are proposing for Peabody in St John’s Hill with where the “new” phase 3 plan proposes to add 70 new units by offering smaller units within the existing building layout, with a shift towards a larger number of flats with fewer bedrooms. On Battersea Park Road, a scheme for 39 residential units (including 12 affordable) was replaced a few months ago by a plan for 213 shared-living units.
In a recent article (Is Wandsworth becoming the new Eldorado of co-living?) we raised alarm on the trend focusing the vast majority of new build on small units and short-term rental. The risk that it will mainly attract a temporary population of DINKYs (acronym used for for Double Income No Kids Yet) and some property investors proposing short term rental or AirBnB style accommodations is detrimental to families planning to make Battersea their home in the long-term
This point is particularly well addressed in the Battersea Society‘s objection:
“These small units, be they for market or affordable housing, are not what is needed. As you will know, the most recent Housing Needs Assessment states that there are 8,800 people on the Housing Register, that 22,695 affordable dwellings are needed of which 60% (13,724) result from people in over-crowded dwellings – which suggests strongly that 1-bedroom properties are not the answer and that while an increase in affordable housing is generally desirable the provision of 32 x 1-bedroom flats and 32 x 2-beds is not the answer.”
And we will leave the last words to a local resident who objected to the application and said:
“I would request only that you consider whether this area needs more high rise buildings. I used to see skies out of my windows. Now it’s dark for much of the day in my own flat and for many hours the sun disppears behind CODA on account of its needless height. The DIY store that existed before it was a far greater utility to the area’s residents than twenty four floors of largely unsold luxury apartments. These schemes only appear to benefit the developers and the council who being welcome recipients of S106 and CIL distributions, and do very little to solve the need for provision of affordable houses and commercial premises for small businesses.”
If you wish to send a comment to the Council regarding this application, you can do so by clicking this link: 2022/0249.