by Paul Cahalan
from Wandsworth Guardian (online) 18 May 2009
Developers have ditched plans for 42-storey twin towers in Clapham Junction, just hours before Wandsworth Council was due to make a decision on the project.
Metro Shopping Fund (MSF) confirmed it was withdrawing the application on Monday after planning officers recommended rejecting the proposal.
Campaigners said the withdrawal was a win for local democracy and urged the council to implement a borough-wide strategy for tall buildings.
In a statement MSF, a joint venture between Land Securities and Delancey, said: “We are all deeply disappointed and frustrated that, despite many years of close co-operation and support from Wandsworth, to ensure that our proposals met all of their objectives for the location and this very important transport hub, the council has now seen fit to entertain a recommendation for refusal.
"We have invested significant resources to date, however in the absence of the council’s support at the last moment we have been forced to withdraw our application.
"We believe a project of this scale would have helped to stimulate the wider London economy while providing lasting benefits for all local stakeholders including job creation and improved infrastructure.
"Metro will now review its position and consider what its future options might be.”
As well as the two skyscapers the £400m application - which was due to go to Wandsworth Council’s planning committee on Wednesday - contained a two-floor shopping plaza and a facelift for Clapham Junction station.
Local campaigners argued the towers were too tall while criticising the lack of affordable housing.
They also said station redevelopment should be paid for by rail authorities.
Battersea MP Martin Linton, who has called for a parliamentary debate on tall buildings and opposed the plans along with community groups said: “This is a victory for the 1,000-plus people who have sent in objections or signed petitions against these 42-storey towers.
"I’m grateful to everyone who has raised their voice and this surely proves that people power can work. It’s been a tremendous campaign and it shows that people really do still care about their town centre.
"I think the message is clear that we all want improvements to Clapham Junction station, but we shouldn’t have to pay for them by agreeing to 42-storey towers that would be totally out of scale with our town centre.
“I will be writing to the Office of the Rail Regulator to ask him to take another look at the capital programme for improvements to Clapham Junction station now that we know that the Delancey development is not going ahead.
“Most of all I hope Wandsworth Council will now adopt a realistic policy on tall buildings in the borough.
"It’s clear that the overwhelming majority of people feel that 42-storey blocks are out of place in our town centres and it’s important that Wandsworth should write that into their planning documents so that developers know what they can and what they can’t build in the future.”
Battesrea resident Cyril Richert, who set up the Clapham Junction Action Group in response to the application, said residents should help decide what a future Clapham Junction should look like.
He said: “It is good news the site has been rejected, but what is stopping developers coming back in six months with another development?
"People need to talk about what people want in the area.”
Date posted: 19 May 2009