The Battersea Society: Planning Committee submission The Battersea Society website 

Planning Committee Submission

Submission to Wandsworth Borough Council
Added on: 28 February 2019 at 08:39:29

Northcote Library and Chatham Hall: 2018/5833

The Battersea Society objects to this application and gives below detailed comments on the plans as presented.  However we have a more fundamental problem.  That is that the major development proposed is not necessary and that a more modest refurbishment of each building would make more financial sense.  It is particularly concerning that the scanty financial viability statement, presumably written on behalf of the development partner, claims that no affordable housing can be offered, this on two sites owned by the Council on behalf of its residents. 

We are writing separately to ask for the financial background to these proposals, the options considered, the benefit to the developer and the cost to the Council. 

We also object to the very minimal exhibition of these new proposals which took place.  The material put up was small, there was no simple presentation of the scheme, its objectives nor a clear presentation of what is proposed for the two sites. 

The earlier consultation raised a number of concerns about the proposals, and we do not believe that they have been properly addressed in what is now proposed. 

At the heart of our concerns is overdevelopment, particularly of the Chatham Hall site.  There has been no significant reduction in the size of the buildings as compared with the proposals which aroused such concern in the earlier consultation. As noted at that time, neither the library nor the hall gains any significant additions to their space. But the addition of residential and retail space results in an increase of three and a half times in the gross area of the buildings across the two sites. The figures in the Design and Access Statement indicate that the increase on the Chatham Hall site is nearly six times. On a notably constrained site, this results in massing that will result in an oppressive sense of enclosure which is simply unacceptable. That sense of enclosure will be accentuated by the much-narrowed entrance to the hall and the flats, much narrower than the width of the nearby pedestrianised Halston Close. 

The addition of retail units, in a road where many shops remain empty, is misguided and should be re-considered in the light of changes to town centres and work already planned to review the future of Clapham Junction in particular and town centres in general. 

The overdevelopment gives rise to a number of further concerns, noted in many of the objections submitted by local residents who will be affected by the development, particularly those in Bramfield Road, Halston Close, and Northcote Road. 

First, we note, for example, the very real concerns about overlooking and loss of privacy: the failure to meet the guidelines on the space between windows facing each other; the inclusion of north-facing balconies; and the bizarre proposal for pleached deciduous trees to mitigate the overlooking (which will of course be of limited effectiveness for half the year but will further reduce the light for the small gardens in Bramfield Road). 

Second, we note that questions have been raised as to whether the daylight and sunlight assessment has been properly conducted; and that it is not complete. 

Third, we note the understandable concerns about security raised by the loss of the security fencing, and the ease of access to gardens from the single-storey flat-roofed building. 

All this to fund the replacement – with at best marginal increases in space – of buildings that perform their community functions more than adequately at present. We cannot support the overdevelopment involved, with buildings of mediocre design. 

This is a flawed proposal and should be rejected in its current form.  Councillors and officers should take a step back and look at alternative options to refurbish both the Library and Chatham Hall.

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