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Battersea Society attacks planners for fast-tracking demolition of attractive building

The Battersea Society has accused Wandsworth planners of confusion and lack of consultation over a developer’s decision to demolish the former Employment Exchange on the corner of Battersea Park Road and Beechmore Road.  This is a graceful Georgian-style building which, although not listed, immediately adjoins the Battersea Park Conservation Area.  The Battersea Society has indeed urged that the boundary of the Conservation Area should be altered to include it, albeit without success.

A notice was posted on the site recently giving members of the public until 23 August to inspect the developer’s proposals for demolition at Wandsworth Council’s offices.  The Battersea Society wrote objecting to demolition.  But no local residents were notified by the developer or the Council that such proposals had been submitted - even though there has been great interest locally in the future of this site, and even though demolition operations are bound to have significant impacts on the locality.  Wandsworth planners then compounded this failure to consult by not even waiting until August 23, and apparently gave planning permission last Friday, August 13.  Demolition has now started.

Several planning applications for redevelopment of the site have been rejected.  There is no planning application for a replacement building currently on the table.  There is great concern that such a large and prominent site will now remain derelict for an indefinite period, with a disastrous effect on the local streetscape.

The derelict site of Ralph West Hall of Residence in Albert Bridge Road is an unhappy precedent.  Developers demolished the existing buildings – in that case after receiving planning permission for a new building in the face of intense local opposition.  But there is no indication now when, if ever, the approved buildings will be erected on the site.  

Date posted: 17 August 2010