Wandsworth is 'easy' place to build skyscrapers
Soaring skyscrapers are being given the green light in direct opposition of council policy, leading to accusations Wandsworth Council is putting developers needs ahead of residents.
Following the granting of permission for a 20-storey tower in Wandsworth Town last month, four times taller than the guidance maximum height for the area, Councillors Tony Belton and Peter Carpenter put forward a motion in a council meeting calling on the council to curb accepting applications in contravention of planning policies.
The council's own planning guidelines state buildings over nine storeys are inappropiate in the Thames area, 11 storeys in Nine Elms and five storeys for the remainder of the borough.
Areas deemed appropiate for tall buildings include the Nine Elms section nearest Vauxhall, town centres, Putney Wharf, Wandsworth Riverside Quarter and Battersea Power Station.
Over the past two years there have been at least 10 examples of the council opting to go against this guidance in their Development Management Policies Document (DMPD).
The DMPD does however states developments deemed too high in areas sensitive to over development can be built if they fulfil 14 criteria.
These include promoting social inclusion, use of public transport over private car use, that the design is well-integrated into surrounding development and that is successfully sits within the existing townscape.
Last summer plans to regenerate the Ram Brewery site outside Wandsworth town centre, which include a 36-storey tower, were approved despite guidance stating five should be the maximum.
The project, recently purchased by Chinese developers Greenland Group, drew objections from every single amenity group in the area.
Another example is the Peabody Estate development in St John's Hill, Battersea, which includes a 12-storey skyscraper in an area deemed sensitive to high-rise buildings.
In Putney developers of Olive Haines Lodge, in Oakhill Road, were granted permission to build the five storey building of flats in a conservation area.
Other examples include the 12-storey Capsticks development, in Upper Richmond Road, Putney, and most recently Sleaford Street Industrial Estate, in Battersea.
Councillor Belton said: "There is a general feeling the council is just a very easy road for developers agencies for any scale, any height."
Cyril Richert, of the Clapham Junction Action Group, said: "The way they are dealing with the policies, they recognise it is in breach of policy, but they don't care, because of the profit gained from the developer and because they get more council tax.
"Why have you got policies if you don't want to follow them - what is the point of having policies?"
A spokesman for the council said: "Every planning application for a tall building is put through a rigorous assessment procedure to ensure it is appropriate, sustainable, offers significant benefits to the local area and is sensitive to any site specific concerns.
"Only proposals which satisfy this strict set of criteria can be approved.
"Our planning policy defines the heights at which a tall building assessments is triggered and also highlights parts of the borough where tall buildings are appropriate like the Nine Elms regeneration area and Wandsworth Town centre."
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