Wandsworth is 'easy' place to build skyscrapers

An image of the plans for the Ram Brewery

An image of the plans for the Ram Brewery

First published in News
Last updated
by , Senior Reporter

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 motion was defeated, but struck a chord with amenity groups such as the Wandsworth Society, the Battersea Society and the Putney Society worried about over-development.

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."

Comments (5)

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8:37am Thu 13 Feb 14

danmont says...

I have been looking for a one or two bedroom flat around Putney or Wandsworth Town as they are nice areas and close enough to town; however, it has been difficult for different reasons; one they are too expensive for someone with a reasonable good salary; also, the competition with other first time buyers and investors is just ridiculous; building skyscrapers is the only way forward in London. I would prefer to live in a shoe-box close enough to central London than further away. I'm really surprised they are people selfish enough to stop them. The demand for new homes in the area is massive and the supply is not enough!
I have been looking for a one or two bedroom flat around Putney or Wandsworth Town as they are nice areas and close enough to town; however, it has been difficult for different reasons; one they are too expensive for someone with a reasonable good salary; also, the competition with other first time buyers and investors is just ridiculous; building skyscrapers is the only way forward in London. I would prefer to live in a shoe-box close enough to central London than further away. I'm really surprised they are people selfish enough to stop them. The demand for new homes in the area is massive and the supply is not enough! danmont
  • Score: -1

12:32pm Thu 13 Feb 14

janee says...

Unfortunately, Danmont, the development in Wandsworth is not solving your problems. Many of the flats in the developments are being bought as investments, not for living in. Wandsworth is doing deals to reduce the proportion of "affordable" accommodation.

This whole process is leaving previously stable and supportive communities to be overwhelmed by rental properties, particularly short term rentals, owned by people who live at the other ends of the country or overseas.
Unfortunately, Danmont, the development in Wandsworth is not solving your problems. Many of the flats in the developments are being bought as investments, not for living in. Wandsworth is doing deals to reduce the proportion of "affordable" accommodation. This whole process is leaving previously stable and supportive communities to be overwhelmed by rental properties, particularly short term rentals, owned by people who live at the other ends of the country or overseas. janee
  • Score: 3

5:09pm Thu 13 Feb 14

Malcolm Alsop says...

And aside from seeming to ignore (or not giving proper weight to) their own policies - Olive Haines Lodge is a good example (although not a skyscraper) - too often officers and members roll over in allowing very tall buildings where there is no proper context and at the same time accept developers at their word that affordable housing in line with policies is 'not viable' - and seemingly operating a policy of 'Putney isn't the place for affordable housing.
And aside from seeming to ignore (or not giving proper weight to) their own policies - Olive Haines Lodge is a good example (although not a skyscraper) - too often officers and members roll over in allowing very tall buildings where there is no proper context and at the same time accept developers at their word that affordable housing in line with policies is 'not viable' - and seemingly operating a policy of 'Putney isn't the place for affordable housing. Malcolm Alsop
  • Score: 2

10:32am Sat 15 Feb 14

buggsie says...

Just wait for the sink holes to start opening up under all this building - bet they aren't excavating properly.
All this building of homes in Wandsworth which is already overpopulated. Not allowing the new home owners to park their cars on site - while I hear they park outside elsewhere. And whilst I hear Wandsworth councillors talking of their fleet of cars - what happened to them and the Mayor (in that expensive old car) using public transport also.
Our roads are old & Victorian - still one lane either way - when is some of the old slum housing going to be demolished to make better thoroughfares.
Just wait for the sink holes to start opening up under all this building - bet they aren't excavating properly. All this building of homes in Wandsworth which is already overpopulated. Not allowing the new home owners to park their cars on site - while I hear they park outside elsewhere. And whilst I hear Wandsworth councillors talking of their fleet of cars - what happened to them and the Mayor (in that expensive old car) using public transport also. Our roads are old & Victorian - still one lane either way - when is some of the old slum housing going to be demolished to make better thoroughfares. buggsie
  • Score: -1

11:11am Sat 15 Feb 14

buggsie says...

Oh well - less than 30 minutes after my post - and on the news now - a sink hole 35ft wide x 20ft deep - opened up in Hemel Hempstead. Carry on building Wandsworth !!!
Oh well - less than 30 minutes after my post - and on the news now - a sink hole 35ft wide x 20ft deep - opened up in Hemel Hempstead. Carry on building Wandsworth !!! buggsie
  • Score: -1

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