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

Planning Committee Submission

Added on: 6 March 2020 at 12:37:39

Consultation on the Planning Obligations SPD 2020

Submission from the Battersea Society

The Battersea Society welcomes this draft revised SPD. The introduction clearly sets out what is a complicated set of regulations and requirements, and each section provides a helpful summary of adopted policy and contributions expected. However, it is not clear how timing of the production of this SPD ties in with the Local Plan revision. A time line for each would be helpful including whether a further revision of the SPD is planned once the new plan is adopted.

Types of Planning Obligations (3)

3.3. and 3.5 list those areas of policy which are the focus for contributions and the document goes into detail under each. We consider there is a major omission from this list, namely indoor community facilities for local voluntary groups. Provision of accessible community centres, libraries and space for hire etc for small voluntary groups is a critical element of developing sustainable communities and is beneficial to mental and physical wellbeing in the widest sense. We see this therefore as part of the social infrastructure requiring support through planning contributions and it should be explicitly listed. 

Negotiating  and monitoring of CIL and s106. (4)

As a local community organisation, the Battersea Society is concerned to ensure that the planning obligation arrangements are realised by strong management, implementation and monitoring of the policies proposed. In the past we have been concerned that it has been difficult to trace through whether S106/CIL contributions have been collected, where they have been used and for what purpose.  Reference is made in para 4.18 to existing annual reports on s106/neighbourhood CIL but the latest we could find related to 2016/17. We therefore welcome the new regulation123 requirement to publish more extensive lists in December following each financial year. We look forward to the first of these in December 2020 and recommend that they are brought to the attention of members of the Community Planning Forum and other local groups when the list is published.

Section 4.10 could be more explicit in setting out monitoring arrangements and publicity of use of contributions in order to assure local residents that major developers are contributing to local infrastructure. 

Proposed level and nature of contributions (4)

1.11 states that the level of contributions is '.....based on local circumstances ....and capacity of existing infrastructure'.  It is not always clear, within application documents, how existing capacity has been assessed against likely demand generated by the proposed development.  This is a particular issue for public transport impacts and community services provision. Recent examples are applications for major sites in the York Road/Lombard Road area. There is little evidence that the aggregate impact of existing approvals on nearby sites, especially in relation to transport, balance of housing size and tenure, and local community services, is taken into account when assessing applications or in calculating s106/CIL contributions. 

Affordable housing (5)

As indicated, when we comment on individual applications we are constantly concerned at the proposed (and often approved) levels of affordable units and their size and location within developments, given the scale of local need. We consider the Council should align itself with the Mayoral approach of using habitable rooms in affordable units rather than merely units. We are also concerned that the draft says (p29) that when considering the mix of 'affordable' units, the Mayor's policy (60% social rent, 40% intermediate rent or sale) should be regarded just as a 'starting point' in negotiations. 

Viability Appraisals - redaction

We would like to see greater transparency, less redaction and simpler explanations of the results of viability appraisals. It is difficult for local community interests to comment on the findings as presented in the appraisals attached to applications. 

Commuted payments and off site development to meet affordability criteria (5.18)

The ‘Application/Calculation’ box suggests that exceptionally, in accordance with national policy, the council will accept commuted and off site provision. Our experience tends to suggest that this is far more 'normal' than 'exceptional'. We would like to see clearer justification within applications for affordable provision off site or through a commuted sum. 

Amendments and phased developments (5.24 - 5.34)

We have found it difficult to keep up with changes in balance of tenure and size of developments in Nine Elms and on other large developments, usually after an initial outline approval. We have picked up some and occasionally, as with Battersea Power Station, the developer has been open in stating how changes in phasing and balance of units affects the overall plan. We would urge that the Council requires developers to explain more openly changes proposed. Without this, trying to assess what the changes and/or modifications mean for the number of affordable habitable rooms is extremely tortuous. An example of this has been development of the various sites making up the former South London mail site. 

Access to community facilities within residential development (5.39)

Greater consideration needs to be given to access to community facilities in larger residential developments. Generally developers should be encouraged to allow more open access (with a fee if necessary) for use of gyms, swimming baths etc within developments and, wherever suitable, also provide community rooms for hire to local groups. 

Employment (6)

Table 4 implies that there are no employment implications once housing is constructed and in use. This is clearly a lost opportunity, given the changing nature of tenure in parts of the borough. The increasing proportion of short let rentals and buy to rent developments has significant implications for associated employment in terms of servicing those buildings, including cleaners, porterage/concierge services, car valeting etc . The council needs to adopt a stronger policy for contributions as laid out in Table 5 for training etc to enable local residents to access jobs in these services. Again the Power Station has set a strong example and similar arrangements should be explored for developments such as The Collective Developments and Greystar in Nine Elms. 

Affordable workspace (6.16 - 6.20)

We support these policies but are not convinced that they are always being applied stringently, with some new large office developments having very limited approaches to providing affordable units. We would like to see these policies more tightly applied at approval. Likewise, applications are not explicit in relation to maintaining affordable rents in perpetuity. We think it likely that the suggested discount on market rent of more than 20% in Nine Elms may well be needed all along the riverfront areas.  Again, the level of monitoring and reporting provision of affordable space  post completion is vital to retain opportunities for new start-ups and small businesses. 

Social infrastructure (8)
We consider the brief reference to 'Community Use' in the threshold box to be totally inadequate. 

Developer contributions to the provision of a network of community buildings for local community use should be given more emphasis and treated in a similar way to outdoor sports provision when assessing applications for large residential developments. 

Sustainability (10)

We welcome this expanded section. 

Transport: Network Impact (11.7)

We were surprised to read that the Council felt that contributions to transport network  improvements were unlikely to be necessary as a result of developments other than in Nine Elms.

The weak statement that contribution 'may ' be required from larger developments is not reassuring. 

Development  along the corridor from Wandsworth Town Centre through to Nine Elms is such that in total it is placing enormous pressure on both bus and rail transport. Such pressures should be reflected in contributions required. The object must be to a move to a long term strategy for transport infrastructure across this part of the borough, with contributions from developers. 

Parking - requirement to provide electrical charging points

We welcome the reference to provision of electrical charging points in the transport threshold box on page 78. We consider however that it should now be an absolute requirement that wherever parking places are included in a development there is also a reasonable proportion of charging points relative to the number of spaces provided.