The Battersea Society: Planning Committee submission The Battersea Society website 

Planning Committee Submission

Submission to Wandsworth Borough Council
Added on: 16 July 2019 at 09:45:55

2019/2488 Battersea Park British Genius site erection of temporary building

The Battersea Society objects to the application as currently submitted. We have concerns about the applicant’s claim that the British Genius Site (BGS) “can be used as an events venue on a permanent basis” and that “no planning permission is required”. We also have concerns about the height of the building, the lack of discussion of the impact on traffic generation and nuisance resulting from an expansion of the scope of events to be mounted, and about the impact on the Park as a whole.  Finally, we have concerns about the siting and management of waste management facilities. 

Nature of the application 

Along with other bodies, we are particularly concerned about the claim that the approval for the use of the BGS granted in 1998 allows the permanent use of the site and that subsequent time-limited applications and approvals have been nugatory. We question that interpretation of the 1998 permission, and seek assurance that any approval now granted will be explicitly for a temporary period; and that clear criteria will be set for any extension of such approval. 

Height of the building 

Although the proposed new building has the same footprint as the previous one, it will be significantly higher: 11.3 metres at the eaves and 12.3 metres at the apex, as compared to 9.3 metres and 10.0 metres. The building will thus become visible from a much greater area both within and beyond the park, and will degrade views of what is meant to be a green space. The application includes photographs of the previous building from various viewpoints, but makes no attempt to show how these will be much altered, to the detriment of the Park and the Conservation Area. This information should be provided before the application is determined. 

Use of the building and traffic impact 

A key part of the rationale for the proposal (para 7.8 of the Design and Access Statement (DAS)) is that the taller building will “be able to cater for ‘world class’ events such as national film and television awards ceremonies”.  The previous building already held conferences, dinners and parties for up to 1,800 guests, and exhibitions, fairs and shows attended by up to 5,000 visitors each day. We would object to any increase in the number or scale of events at the BGS. 

We do not accept the claim (para 7.33 of the DAS) that “most visitors use public transport”. Indeed, Enable notes in its publicity for the site that it offers 100-150 car parking spaces, “plus 1,000 throughout the park”.  The key road access to the site is from Chelsea Bridge. Major events in the Park already give rise to severe traffic congestion, due to taxis and cars turning into and out of the Park; and we question whether the majority attending 'world class' events of the type suggested in the DAS will be using public transport. The proposed expansion in the use of the BGS, along with all the additional pressures arising from other developments in Nine Elms/Battersea, will further exacerbate the traffic congestion, with knock on effects north of the river.  

As far as we can see there has been no traffic impact study undertaken to assess how changes in the scope of events will affect traffic in Queenstown Road, or any statement of traffic/people management inside the park before, during, and after these major events. We consider this application does not meet the requirements of DMT1b)  which states that: Development proposals will demonstrate their effect on traffic and transport by provision of Transport Assessments (TAs). Any such assessment should include roads within the Park.  We therefore recommend that the PAC makes no decision on this application until a full transport assessment has been undertaken. 

Impact on the Park 

We are concerned that the maximum area of green open space is maintained in the Park, given the further diminution arising from recent developments such as Go Ape, the putting green and the increasing use of the Boules Area.  We urge that the Council’s previous policy that:  “where possible the British Genius Site will be used for all events” (page 23 of Paper 11-850) should apply; and that the use of other parts of the park should be kept to a minimum. The hard standing area of the Genius site could surely be used for more events that currently use the boules area.  This will be particularly important if the ‘fallow period’ when the previous building is deconstructed no longer applies except for every fourth year. 

Waste management 

We have concerns relating to waste management on site, given that this is within a leisure and recreation area. Section 7.68 of the DAS suggests that there will be 2 compactors and skips for glass, alongside other commendable waste management processes. However, the location of the waste skips etc is immediately adjacent to the rear boundary of the site and directly onto a popular grassed area used for picnics and other leisure activiies.  No indication is given of any screening or sound/smell etc mitigation measures for these. In particular, dumping of large amounts of glass into skips can be very noisy, and there should be time limits put on the operation of these (and any noisy mechanical compactors) to ensure they take place outside normal public access hours to the Park. This is the area currently used for waste skips and already at times the noise during build up and events can generate an industrial-like environment for other Park users in this area just outside the Genius site. Further requirements on these issues should be requested. This is needed to ensure that the requirements of DMS1c  “to avoid nuisance to existing users of adjacent sites” will be satisfied. 

The Battersea Society therefore objects to the application as submitted. Further thought must be given to the impact of the height and the use of the new building on the rest of the Park and beyond.  Visuals of the impact of the proposed taller building and an assessment of the traffic implications of future use of the site should be provided before a final decision is reached

To see full details of this application and other comments, or to make your own views known please click here