PLANS TO build a block of flats where the old forge stands in Beardell Street are being opposed by the Norwood Society.
In a strongly-worded letter of objection to Lambeth council, Philip Goddard, chairman of the society’s planning sub-committee, says the proposed development’s nearest equivalent in height, massing and scale is the warehouse on the opposite side of Beardell Street which the applicants themselves characterise as ‘bearing no relationship to the building which it abuts.’
“They could not have devised a better description of their own proposed building” adds Mr Goddard..
“The applicants seek to justify the height and scale of their building by reference to possible future buildings on either side, shown shaded on their elevations.
“No doubt if permission is given for their proposals there will be further applications for buildings on either side which will in turn be justified by reference to the current proposals.
“This whole argument is circular and entirely devoid of merit. “The height and scale of the proposed building should be justified by reference to existing buildings, not to buildings which do not now and may never exist.”
Other points of objection made by Mr Goddard in his letter of objection to Lambeth include:
- In terms of its scale, massing and height the proposed block of flats is overdominant in its context and represents an overdevelopment of the site. Beardell Street is a pleasant street of mainly late Victorian houses of three or two storeys, largely free of the ignorant and unsympathetic alterations which have disfigured much of the contemporary housing stock in this area.
- The proposed five/six storey block is a gross intrusion into the present low-rise streetscape. In view of the fact that its principal visibility would be from Beardell Street and not from Westow Hill, it should take its cue from the former and not from the latter.
- According to the London Plan (policy 7.1 D) “the design of new buildings and the spaces they create should help reinforce or enhance the character… of the neighbourhood”. In policy 7.4 A of the same Plan we are told that “development should have regard to the form, function and structure of an area, place or street, and the scale, mass and orientation of surrounding buildings” and in 7.4 B e that “buildings should be informed by the surrounding historic environment”.
- Again, according to Policy 7.7 C, relating specifically to tall and large buildings (defined as buildings which are “substantially taller than their surroundings”, which clearly includes this one), “tall and large buildings should relate well to the form, proportion, composition, scale and character of surrounding buildings, urban grain and public realm”
- This is particularly important in the case of a building which has an impact on a conservation area (7.7 C). The proposed building fails on every one of these counts.
- According to Policy 3.28 Table 3.2 of the London Plan the appropriate density for dwellings in an area with a PTAL (Public Transport Accessibility Level) score of between four and six is between 200 and 700 hr/ha. The density of the proposed dwellings is above 1000 hr/ha, and therefore well above the maximum permitted density.
- The size of the second bedroom in each flat is, if only marginally, below the minimum size permitted in the Lambeth UDP (Unitary Development Plan). Cooking, dining and sitting space for each flat is concentrated in a single room of only around 29 sq.m.
- “In our view the layout of these flats borders on sub-standard accommodation.”There is virtually no amenity space at all. “The proposals are therefore in conflict with the Lambeth UDP which requires a minimum of 50 sq.m. per development plus a further 10 sq.m per flat.
- There is no play area for children, in conflict with Policy 3.41 of the London Plan which provides that “new development including housing should make provision for playspace. This should normally be made on-site”.
- There is no provision for residents’ parking, not even any disabled or essential users’ bays. “Experience indicates that car ownership in an area which has a high PTAL score is not significantly lower than in other areas. Beardell Street and surrounding streets are already heavily parked.
- Moreover, the PTAL ratings are calculated without reference to the topography of the area to which they relate (or, in other words, on the principle that London is flat). The two railway stations referred to in the design and access statements are at the bottom of two of the steepest hills in South London, negotiable only by the fit and healthy.
- The commercial units on the ground floor could be supplied only with extreme difficulty, as the previous businesses operating from this site discovered. This fact, and the proposed layout of these units, suggest that it is the intention to convert them to flats in due course. (20-22 Beardell Street SE19 1TP planning application No. 12/02665/FUL)