The Battersea Society: Planning Committee submission Welcome to the Battersea Society website 

Planning Committee Submission

Submission to Wandsworth Borough Council
Added on: 25 August 2019 at 16:47:14

South London Mail Centre, Plot A 2019/2293

The Battersea Society is supportive of the addition of an office block to plans for the South London Mail Centre site but objects to this application in relation to its design, its relationship to the linear park, the amount of affordable work space and the lack of integrated access plans across the whole site.

Design:  We applaud the intention to create a building which ‘prominently sited, will create an elegant and bold building of ‘landmark’ quality’ but share with the Design Review Panel (DRP) the view that the current proposal is underwhelming.   We note that in response to an element of their criticism the design has been changed to a podium building.  This does not address their wider concerns which can be seen in full in their letter of 18 February 2019.

While the podium element is an improvement we consider that this site needs a building with much more welcoming public space around it both in its role as a marker for the linear park through to Vauxhall; but also to provide a more attractive environment for the users and a more generous sense of neighbourliness alongside other buildings within the South London Mail site development and the roadway.  Even with the podium, the building sits foursquare on the site and close up to the building line.  Part of the effectiveness of the US embassy is that it is set within a green landscape and does not loom over the road and surrounding buildings.  Various graphics on pages 86-88 of the Design and Access statement (DAS) part 2 on the website illustrate our concern.

We are concerned that this building will have an adverse effect on its neighbours through solar glare and light pollution.  We are not reassured by the planning statement which concludes that:

The approved Masterplan as revised by the Drop-in Application will result in two instances of Minor Adverse and one instance of Moderate Adverse [solar glare] which are considered to be significant effects. For light pollution, the Approved Masterplan as revised by the Drop-in Application will result in two instances of Moderate Adverse effects, and one Major Adverse effect, which are considered to be significant effects. However, these would be mitigated through detailed lighting design, the use of automatic lights and blinds post-curfew (after 11pm) and dimming of lights. These measures would reduce the effects to insignificant.

We do not think that the effect of this building will be acceptable even within an urban context.

Landscaping and link to linear park: the site sits awkwardly in terms of ease of access to the linear park because of Moat Street, which will be a major entry point into this part of the former Mail site, and which effectively cuts Plot A off from the major part of the park. We do not consider that the current proposals fully reconcile busy vehicular access to Plot A, and to a lesser extent C1, with that of safe pedestrian and cycle access from the eastern part of the linear park through to Nine Elms Lane and Battersea Park Road. The landscape drawings attached to this application do not fully explain where the pedestrian link is from Haines Lane and Haines Lawn (although a paved area!) into the linear park. In addition, compared to proposals for planting around other plots on the South London Mail site, those for Plot A seem minimal and the fixtures and fittings hard and bleak (alongside cycle racks and the taxi drop off point). We also consider there should be some soft landscaping to mitigate the stark elevation onto Nine Elms Lane/ Battersea Park Road.

Affordable work space at 9% and at 20% below market rate is unacceptable.  We would urge that a more community focussed and generous scheme be proposed. 

There appears to be a lack of common facilities for the offices.  It would add significantly to the attractiveness of the workplace, and of the marketability of the building, if there were provision for some shared facilities to allow workers from different companies to get together from time to time.

Access:  In terms of provision for disabled workers it appears that the proposal is for one parking bay for those with a blue badge and that there will be a drop off point within 50m of the building. This seems inadequate and we can only hope that we have misunderstood the documentation.  Overall we are concerned that for this building, and across the site, provision for servicing and delivery parking is inadequate.  We have addressed this specifically in our response to 2019/2250 and in our comments on 2018/6057.

Statement of Community Involvement:  We at the Battersea Society are very grateful for the generous amount of time the development team have given us.  However we do have to note that several pages of statistical analyses showing percentages based on 13 respondents is not to be commended.

We look forward to seeing further designs for this plot and recommend that this current application be refused. 

You can see full details of this application and other comments, or to make your own views known by copying 2019/2293 and pasting it into the box you will find here