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

Planning Committee Submission

Submission to Wandsworth Borough Council
Added on: 17 July 2020 at 12:20:10

Randall Close Development, 2020/0635

While there is much to commend this proposal it is clear that it is a partial and incomplete plan.  Major proposals such as these should be part of a more comprehensive and agreed approach to the future of the whole estate.  The Battersea Society has, therefore, to object to the application as it now stands.  Our aim is to encourage the Housing Team to take a step back and look again at the whole Surrey Lane Estate and the adjoining Mission Hall site in order to provide an integrated plan for the whole of the area.  This need for a strategic overview was first raised in the comments of the Design Review Panel and we commend this document as a thoughtful intervention.  Such a plan would then allow for work to be completed within a longer-term plan of works, to be delivered in phases. 

The lack of an indoor community space within the plans is a symptom of this lack of a strategic vision for the estate.  There is an opportunity for new building to benefit all occupants both current and future; and to integrate the work of all departments of the Council, not just the housing department.  An indoor community space within the new plans is an essential.part of this and should not be omitted on the grounds that ‘no business plan’ has yet been put forward for its longer term use. 

One stumbling block appears to be the Mission Hall site and it is unclear to what extent the Council has engaged with the owners of this site.  The lengthy defence of the omission of a community hall offers contradictory evidence.  On the one hand it states that the Bridge offers community services yet elsewhere states that ‘there are proposals to re-provide the Mission Hall on the Surrey Lane Estate as part of a proposed re-development’.  This uncertainty should be resolved before plans for Randall Close are finalised, not least to ensure that architecturally the design of the two developments provide an integrated and attractive streetscape and a welcoming entrance to the Surrey Lane Estate from Battersea Bridge Road. 

We consider that the estate would benefit in the long term from a significant reduction of on-street parking. While we appreciate that there may be legal obligations in relation to owners and tenants of some property, this should not preclude a review of parking provision overall with the aim of limiting the need for such widespread re-provision.  Within this it would be worth exploring the possibility of some limited underground parking which should, of course, be designed with safety in mind.  In addition, it is essential that there be adequate short term parking for delivery and service vehicles and other essential services.  

Further detailed comments concern the proposed unit mix, the plans for green space and the possibility that more could have been done in terms of environment. 

We have a continued, and increasing, concern that Battersea lacks housing for families other than those lucky enough to be in social housing or rich enough to afford larger properties.  Younger people moving through will always be a welcome part of the community, but as part of a mixed community.  The proposal here that all 22 of the shared ownership units be small one bedroom starter (or ‘pocket’) homes exacerbates that concern.   In addition 28% (16) of the market units are one bedroom and 4 of the affordable rent units, 38% overall.   This provision needs to be looked at within the overall housing mix in Battersea with, by observation, many smaller properties now ‘buy to let’ and one approved and one proposed ‘co-living’ building within Battersea.  It is regretted that there appears to be no social rent provision within the new buildings.

We accept that re-provision of green space matches that lost to new car-parking but some at least appears to be in individual pockets rather than part of larger spaces.  Added to this, part of the playground west of Wigram Court and of the hard surface play area between Hervey Court and Villiers Court will be replaced by paved parking areas, a net loss of play space over the estate as a whole. We note that Hervey Court is currently underused but this could be addressed by other measures than reducing the area.  It is notable that walking through the estate these large spaces add immeasurably to the outlook from necessarily dense blocks and, if we are correct, this loss of generous public open space is regrettable.  We note that the Central Square is currently proposed to be hard-landscaped and that a permeable surface is to be explored.  We consider permeability is essential and should be part of the planning from the start. 

It is not clear whether, in line with Council policy, a statement of WESS compliance has been included and overall the environmental achievement proposed is disappointing.  Ground source heating has been dismissed but this appears contrary to the Council’s statement that it will: “Explore options to install ground source heating in council owned housing blocks, including researching the outcome of pilots of this across London."  In the case of photovoltaics the energy statement considers these viable but in conflict with roof space needed for Air Source Heat Pumps.  A Network Heating System is not proposed but an overall review of the estate might have allowed for this to be included rather than the block by block solution proposed here.  Overall we recommend that these plans be reviewed with the objective of making this a flagship development in terms of environmental good practice. 

In conclusion, we very much hope that the unavoidable delays in bringing forward this scheme, together with the other points outlined by us and by the Design Review Panel, will lead to a fresh look at the proposals overall.  It may even be that new government proposals could make this a rewarding exercise for the Council.

You can see full details of this application and other comments, or to make your own views known by copying 2020/0635 and pasting it into the box you will find here