One Battersea Bridge new submission with 34 storeys: still a massive breach of the Local Plan

2 mins read
New submission for a 34-storey tower (previously 38!) proposal for Glassmil site in Battersea Bridge - Credit: Architect's view

The developers of the site at One Battersea Bridge have submitted a new application, which bears little change from the previous one. The proposal remains to replace the current glass-clad building on the southern bank of the river, situated at the base of Battersea Bridge, with a tower of more than 30 storeys, blatantly breaching the Local Plan’s restrictions limiting the area to about 6 storeys.

The new proposed development consists of one tower reaching a maximum of 34 storeys (including ground), with up to 174 m2 of commercial floorspace at ground floor and up to 142 residential units (in their original presentation they talked about “140-160 high-quality new homes“).

The recently adopted Wandsworth Local Plan and Policies Map, after three years of consultation, explicitly places the site outside a “tall buildings” zone, mandating compliance with the ‘mid-rise’ category, which defines a maximum of 6 storeys or 18m (whichever is lower).

Even considering the adjacent “tall building zone” (and therefore not relevant to this proposal), the appropriate height range is set at 7-12 storeys (21-36m), way below the proposed tower. The Local Plan expressly states that development proposals for tall or mid-rise buildings along the borough’s riverside will only receive support if they align with the identified zones.

In an inadvertent admission, the developers acknowledge their discordance with the local environment, as indicated on page 48 of their main document, where they state:

“There are no other known cumulative schemes that are in close enough
proximity to have a cumulative effect in relation to the Proposed Development.”

Previously, in January, the developers of the Glassmill site at 1 Battersea Bridge Road submitted a request for a formal Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) scoping opinion for their plan to construct a 38-storey tower. Following the display of the application on their Planning portal (2023/4628), Wandsworth Council received more than 330 objections from local residents and amenities expressing their discontent with the application. During the latest Planning Forum, Nick Calder, the Head of Development Management, expressed frustration over the public’s misunderstanding of the Screening Opinion request, which is not a planning application. He said he looked at the objections but admitted not all of them.

Even the Chair of the Planning Committee commented that it lacked clarity. This is probably the reason why this time (application 2024/0764) the officers have displayed for the start a note in the description of the “planning application” page saying: “THIS IS NOT A PLANNING APPLICATION”.

THIS IS NOT A PLANNING APPLICATION: Wandsworth Council’s version of the 1964 Rene Magritte’s painting: “This is not an apple”?

However, the Council seems to still be grappling with their system, as the dates for consultations are mixed up (or is it a Machiavellian tactic to deter comments?).

Is it a new way to prevent comments? – Screenshot of the planning portal

An EIA is a process that evaluates the potential environmental effects of a proposed project or development. Often it leads to a nearly similar planning application (this was the case for example for 98 York Road), but it could be also a way for developers to test the planning officer’s mood.

As we said in a previous article, the council faces a choice: either to challenge and discourage developers who defy planning rules in pursuit of perceived benefits, or to disregard the local plan, signaling to developers that they can submit proposals without adhering to the 480-page Local Plan, its annexes, and future supplementary documents. The resolution to this dilemma is expected sometime this year.

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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.

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