The Battersea Society: Planning Committee submission The Battersea Society website 

Planning Committee Submission

Submission to Wandsworth Borough Council
Added on: 30 March 2015 at 16:34:07

101 Prince of Wales Drive: 2015/0591

The Battersea Society strongly objects to this application.  While welcoming proposals for re-use of this site we consider that the master plan proposals would result in overdevelopment, fall outside policy guidelines for this part of the Opportunity Area, would have a deleterious impact on the adjoining Battersea Park Conservation Area and fail to realise the ambition of providing a new green public square for this part of Prince of Wales Drive. 

We are also concerned about the ambiguity regarding provision of affordable units and share the concerns that TfL and others have expressed concerning traffic circulation. 

Overdevelopment and breach of policy guidelines 

We consider that the preferred massing option of the buildings, as submitted, while reflecting the recommendations of the Design Review Panel to step the buildings, does not diminish the overall bulk of the development.  The denseness of blocks on site can be seen all too clearly in the visuals on pages 22-27 of the Townscape Assessment of Volume II of the Environmental Statement. 

Section 2.1.4 of the SSAD submitted to the Inspector earlier this month, and relating to this specific site, states  “tall buildings in this location are likely to be inappropriate.  In accordance with DMPD Policy DMS4, the height at which a development in this location will be considered to be tall is 11 storeys.”  Eight of the eleven blocks proposed for the site exceed this number of storeys, with the campanile having 26 storeys.  We do not accept the justification that the three tallest buildings on the northern part of the site would create an ‘elegant’ cluster and act as a landmark to replace the former gasometers.  The gasometers had clear space between them.  When the main gasometer was down its strong iron lattice frame provided an attractive contrasting structure to the blue tower. 

The dominant landmark at the western end of Nine Elms is, and should remain, the cluster of the Power Station’s four chimneys.   This scheme has not been designed to relate to them and from some angles would obscure views of them.continued …

Deleterious Impact on the Battersea Park Conservation Area

The Townscape Assessment also shows the extent to which the collection of Victorian buildings around the church in Battersea Park Road and within the adjacent Battersea Park Conservation Area would be totally overshadowed by the development.  We support English Heritage’s comments on the failure to fully complement the materials in the adjacent Conservation Area.  We feel the attempt to reflect the ironwork of the former gasometers in the vertical metal frame of the Campanile tower bears little resemblance to the Victorian ironwork and is a naïve attempt to win over criticism.  The visual impact of the massing of blocks is highly intrusive when seen from other parts of the Conservation Area including the Rosary Gate entrance to Battersea Park and along the western section of Prince of Wales Drive.  

Lack of Green Public Open Space

Much play at an earlier consultation stage was made of the objective of providing a public open square to green up this section of Prince of Wales Drive.  The map on page 18 of the resubmitted SSAD also clearly identifies potential public open space on this site.  The pitiful open space now proposed at the southern end of the site is no more than the necessary circulation space required to access the new college facility, café and retail units.  To call it a public square as on p. 12 of the Landscape Statement (and to provide much larger comparators as on p. 13) is false. 

It is unfortunate that the central café block provides such a strong barrier against what could be a green vista through the blocks, as happens in Chelsea Bridge Wharf further up Queenstown Road.  Indeed it is unclear whether the green public open areas between the central blocks are accessible to the public – as suggested in the picture 069 of the Design & Access Statement.  Elsewhere in the Landscape Strategy this is shown as private space and does not appear to be accessible to the public.  Clarity on this is needed. 

Affordable Housing 

Affordable housing is desperately needed in this part of the borough.  At the public consultation we were informed that 25% of the units would be affordable and that these would be in blocks K and L on the eastern side of the site.  This is above the accepted guidelines for the Opportunity Area.  However the planning and the affordable housing statements indicate that the exact proportion, and the type of affordable housing offered, awaits the outcome of the viability assessment.  There is no guarantee, therefore, that the obviously desirable figure of 25% will be achieved in practice even if this flawed scheme is allowed to proceed.  

In conclusion:  While we welcome the potential arrival of a new education campus on the site, these proposals, as currently submitted, should be rejected.  They are an overdevelopment of the site, would have a malign effect on the surrounding area, lack green space and do not promise any quantum of affordable housing.

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