The Battersea Society: Planning Committee submission The Battersea Society website 

Planning Committee Submission

Submission to Wandsworth Borough Council
Added on: 6 August 2019 at 16:15:36

Slipway Extension, 2019/2232

The Battersea Society objects strongly to this application designed to enable the introduction of an amphibious boat tour to this residential area.  The proposal is contrary to planning policy.  The proposed route, over Battersea Bridge and along Battersea Church Road, would pass through the Westbridge Road and Battersea Village Conservation Areas. This stretch of road is already both heavily trafficked and routinely subject to clogging at the junction with Battersea Bridge Road. In addition the tour would damage the environment, be a threat to wildlife along the foreshore at St. Mary’s Church (a Grade I listed building) and inhibit the peaceful use of the Thames Path and access to the river. 

Contrary to Planning Policy 

These proposals are in breach of, at the very least, policies DSM1.c, DMS1.d, DMO6.iv and DMO7.iv. 

Impact on Residents 

The slipway entry to the foreshore crosses the footway immediately underneath the balconies of a small block of flats, alongside the neighbouring St. Mary’s Churchyard and the (inhabited) houseboats. The noise assessment included with the application suggests that because there is a steady hum of traffic on the road to the front of the building and the church with an a ambient level of around 63 dBA the noise of a vehicle turning in, up to 25 times a day at an estimated engine noise of 78-83 dBA, has to be accepted.  This is not only disingenuous but ignores the likelihood of other added noise through a commentary, noise from passengers and the essential traffic marshal operation. 

The Air Quality assessment of the operational phase appears to be predicated on this being the reintroduction of a tour route – which is not the case. It states that:

The proposed development will only introduce a slipway extension and therefore an assessment of the proposed development plant against BEB can be scoped out. The proposed development will not introduce any significant number of new trips and therefore an assessment against the TEB is also not required. Hence, the need for an Air Quality Neutral Assessment can be scoped out. 

The nature of the new trips is of a quite different type and environmental impact to any current users of the slipway and it is essential therefore that a proper assessment of this type of use by amphibious vehicles is undertaken.

 Damage to Conservation Areas 

The Westbridge Road conservation area takes in Battersea Church Road, a narrow road lined along one side with small cottages and on the other with residential apartment blocks.  Around the corner is Battersea Square, the heart of the Battersea Village conservation area.   The introduction of an open-sided tour boat along these roads would be wholly inappropriate and damaging to the conservation areas. 

Traffic Impact

There is routinely a tailback south from Battersea Bridge at peak hours, made worse by the traffic jams at the junction between Battersea Church and Battersea Bridge Roads.  The turning into the slipway is just before a sharp bend with two way traffic coming at some speed east.  The 170 bus (although essential) adds to traffic delay as it turns right from Battersea Bridge Road into Battersea Church Road.  Tour boat journeys would further clog up traffic at the junction and then again as marshals halted traffic to allow the hazardous turn in and out of the approach to the slipway.  Little detail of the route is given but King’s Road is also routinely clogged with traffic and buses often have to queue to get from Beaufort Street across to the bridge.

The planning statement notes that ‘all developments that will generate significant amounts of movement should be supported by a transport assessment’ yet fails to provide one.  It states that ‘movements were generated originally during the operation of these tours by another company’ while to the best of our knowledge no such tours have operated in this location.

 We consider that the proposed tours would have ‘an unacceptable impact on highway safety’ and that ‘the residual cumulative impacts on the road network would be severe’.

Environmental Impact

A 60m long slipway and the regular intrusion of commercial tours would have a wholly detrimental effect on the wildlife, not least the family of geese who have made this their nesting site for many years. The geese are one of the reasons why residents are fighting to resist the introduction of commercial tours to this slipway. The raised ‘washline’ already being created by speeding Clipper boats is something that concerns ecologists and this operation would add to their concerns 

Interruption to the use of the Thames Path 

The existing slipway and the Thames Path that crosses it are currently regularly used by those accessing the river. The applicant neglects to mention that the vehicles as they enter and exit the river will be crossing the Thames Path, a busy local pedestrian, running and cycle route which is also a National Trail. Its users will, presumably, be inconvenienced by an expectation that they will give way to the vehicles. Mud, water and gravel tracked onto land by the vehicles is also likely to impede or even endanger pedestrian and cycle access. There is no sense that the tour company recognise this or have offered any mitigating measures. Unlike at a similar tour’s former site next to MI6, the slipway is regularly used by kayakers, canoeists and other local users, including dog walkers and mudlarkers who will also be forced off the slipway by the arrival of each boat. 

In conclusion, the slipway itself would be an unsightly intrusion into the river and the introduction of the tour operation would be to the detriment of the quality of life of residents, harmful to the environment and add to existing traffic congestion to the disbenefit of Londoners in Battersea and beyond. 

We urge the Council to reject this application.

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