Parma Crescent, finally!

3 mins read
Parma Crescent - Credit: CJI

In nearly 3 years, we have covered a story from start to full completion.

In July 2020 we presented a controversial proposal (2020/3505) to demolish the existing modest 3 bedroom house with a garage and a large front garden and construct a part 2-storey/part 3-storey building to create 5 new flats.

Site in Parma Crescent in June 2019 – Credit: Google Map

The building has now been fully completed and as of today all but one flat has yet to find a buyer, according to the estate agent NetSeekers.

New building in Parma Crescent – Credit: CJI

The approved application (2021/0408), now named Liliam Apartments, provides 7 residential units and is expecting to host 25 people (2 x 3-bedroom, 4 x 2-bedroom, 1 x 1-bedroom).

Some of the units on sale are still visible on property websites. Last week we visited a 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms  (all the bedrooms are in the basement). The property is currently advertised at £925,000 (with James Pendleton)

The small patio garden can be accessed from the living/kitchen area on the ground floor or from the basement (you will have to lift the grill).

A similar 3 bedroom flat was sold by Rampton Baseley from the same price and a 2 bedroom unit on the second floor (with a bigger area, 114 sqm against 87.5sqm) advertised for £945 000 (down from original price of £995 000). Prices seem in line with what you can find in Parma Crescent, around £10 000 per sqm.

A very controversial application

We explained in several previous articles why the site was sensitive and especially why the developers, with the help of officers, were playing a little game of iteration to get as much as possible from their site, in contempt of the local community and the planning rules.

The site was unusual as it was the land of a small house which had an unusually large garden. During the decision process, the Battersea Society raised a very interesting point in their objection:

This [scheme] can be accomplished only by building on almost all of the garden to the front and side of the existing house, which therefore forms an important part of the existing streetscape. The almost total loss of the garden is incompatible with policies DMH 4 and 7 in the Local Plan and, in more detail, in the Housing SPD which states that “there is no local justification that can be made for the development of residential gardens in the borough”.

Indeed, the Housing SPD (adopted November 2016) is quite clear, especially on par. 2.28:

“It is considered that there is no local justification that can be made for the development of residential gardens in the borough. It has been demonstrated with the adoption of the DMPD, that its housing targets can be met without relying on garden land. Wandsworth is a highly built-up urban area where the contribution of gardens make a significant  contribution to the character and appearance of the borough, particularly in conservation areas. It is therefore not an appropriate form of development in Wandsworth, for the reasons given in the Mayor’s Housing SPG and in the DMPD paragraph 3.22.”

Wandsworth Planning officers managed to circumvent the planning rules by arguing that this “development of residential gardens” only applied to building extension and not to total demolition for reconstruction! This is highly misrepresenting the rule as this is nowhere restricted to house extension only, which is reinforced by the policy talking about housing target.

They also dismissed concerned on the fate of mature trees that would be demolished saying: “they will see what can be done” (before later concluding that nothing could be done, alas!).

Planning officers complacent to the applicant’s game

In addition, the developers played the usual “developer’s game” by submitting five six successives applications, each time pushing more into the site.

The initial application, with five flats (1x 1 bedroom flat 3 x 2 bedroom flats and 1x 3 bedroom flat), was changed half way through the planning process (see our report HERE) and eventually withdrawn.

second application came later in 2020 with seven flats (or eight depending on the version) including a basement that was also agreed by officers during a second round of secret pre-application discussions.

The updated proposal added even more arguments to reject the scheme. Although the bulk envelope of the proposed scheme was the same, the already exiguous garden space for the occupants of the ground-floor flats was further compromised in the revised proposals by the need to provide voids for light to the basement accommodation.

During the second vote in Council Committee, two Labour Councillors joined the Tories to approve the scheme (one of them being Graham Loveland who lost his seat in West Putney at the local election in May 2022) while the remaining two voted against the scheme (including Cllr Belton who is now chair of the planning committee).

A sixth application came in May 2022, as they discovered (surprise!) that the current plan was causing structural liabilities. In addition, they also seemed to discover that they needed to raise the height of the building (by 12cm) to comply with Building Regulations, which apparently neither the developers nor the officers bothered to check.

While this is only a small site and a modest construction  in line with height of th area, the scheme is a symbole of the drift of many proposal for many years in Wandsworth Council: overdevelopment, dismissing existing planning policies and guidance achieved in agreement with planning officers and multiple applications pushing the boundaries of the planning rules a little further each time.

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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.