Decision details

Stockwell Park & Robsart Village Estates (Ferndale Ward)

Decision maker: Planning Applications Committee (replaced by PAC 1 and PAC A on 25.05.07)

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No

Decisions:

Officers apologised for any misunderstanding which led to some objectors believing that they were unable to attend the meeting during the site visit and others being unaware that the site visit was due to start at the community centre.  Officers stated that they had attempted to contact as many objectors as possible prior to the site visit to inform them of the specific arrangements.  The Chair stated that while objectors had not been at the meeting during the site visit Members had met objectors on site and talked with them at length. Councillors Brian Palmer and Julian Heather expressed their concern that the site visit had been a lobbying exercise and that it had been unfair to present information to Members without objectors being present. The Chair stated that Lambeth was unusual in allowing applicants and objectors to attend site visits and these were not part of the statutory process. Councillor Diana Morris said provided that all the information given at the site visit would be presented at the current meeting the Committee should proceed with hearing the application.

 

Officers introduced the application stating that:

  • This development was key to the regeneration of the local area;
  • The application had been due to come to the Committee in December but Officers had delayed this in order to address a problem with day and sunlight around the proposed New Albemarle;
  • This work had continued until the afternoon of this meeting and officers now felt they had a revision they could propose in order to resolve this problem if the Committee was minded to do so. Officers asked that the Legal officer give her opinion of the proposal later in the meeting.

 

Councillor Julian Heather expressed serious concerns at the officers’ suggestion. He asked how many housing units would be lost under the proposed revision and suggested that this would constitute a material change to the application.

 

Officers responded that the application was an outline and covered layout, scale and access only. The proposal was to reserve the scale and layout of New Albemarle for future consideration by the Committee.

 

Councillor Julian Heather stated that a revision of this size should be consulted on and that the Committee should not proceed with this amendment. He sought the opinion of the Legal Officer.

 

The Legal Officer agreed that this situation was not ideal. If proper notification procedures had not been followed then the matter should be adjourned. She suggested that the Committee hear the application and then the proposed amendment provided the results were substantially the same as the original application then planning permission could be granted. However it was for members to consider whether the test was met.

 

Councillor Julian Heather MOVED that the application be deferred until a later date so that the application can be revised and consulted upon completely. Councillor Brian Palmer SECONDED the motion.

 

Voting:

For – 2

Against – 4

 

The motion therefore fell.

 

The Chair stated that the Committee should examine the original application and then deal with any proposed revisions.

 

The architect for the application presented a fly through of the planned development to the Committee.

 

Officers gave a further introduction to the application stating that

  • the application was for the refurbishment of 491 dwellings and the erection of 550 new dwellings;
  • Officers had considered the impact on amenity of surrounding residents and that the development was a departure from the UDP as there would be a loss of publicly accessible open space.
  • With reference to the potential harm caused to the amenity of the Friendly Almshouses residents by the loss of day and sunlight caused by New Albemarle, officers had commissioned a consultant to check the data who had found that the development would cause 7 rooms in the Friendly Almshouses to fall below BRE daylight standards.

 

Councillor Brian Palmer asked if officers were still recommending that planning permission be granted if New Albemarle was not reduced in height. Officers responded that if the New Albemarle was not revised their recommendation would be to defer the application. However a proposal was available to overcome this problem and therefore officers’ recommendation remained to grant planning permission.

 

Objectors

A trustee of the Friendly Almshouses addressed the Committee giving the history of the Almshouses and raising the following concerns:

  • The Almshouses were surrounded by sheltered accommodation which created a peaceful and secure environment which would be disrupted by the planned development;
  • Making this corner of the site a walkway linked to Brixton Town Centre would not increase security in the area;
  • The idea of a land swap had been raised with the applicant and there was broad optimism for the idea from the trustees. However there had been no definite arrangements made and as such they would have to oppose this application.

 

A resident of the Friendly Almshouses addressed the Committee stating that overlooking would be a serious problem with the new block, noise from passing pedestrians would increase substantially and the construction work would be very disruptive.

 

A resident of Ingleborough Street addressed the Committee stating that

  • The out-facing windows of the proposed Wayland House would create significant overlooking of Ingleborough Street;
  • Sunlight will be impeded by the larger and longer shadow of the new building; and
  • More use of Slade Gardens will create security and anti-social behaviour problems for Ingleborough Street residents.

 

A resident of Park View Mews addressed the Committee stating that

  • Consultation with Park View Mews residents had been inadequate;
  • The proposed development would create overlooking of gardens and a loss of day and sunlight;
  • The applicant’s assessment of impact to day and sunlight had been seen to be incorrect at the South side of the development and was therefore unreliable for the whole development; and
  • There would be significant additional noise from the new dwellings.

 

A resident from the Slade Gardens area addressed the Committee stating that

  • The layout, density and bulk of the proposed Wayland House was unacceptable;
  • The development was out of place;
  • There would be direct overlooking of existing properties; and
  • The application had been designed without regard for existing homes.

 

Councillor Brian Palmer asked if an environmental impact study had been undertaken as a recent House of Lords ruling had stated that all large developments should have these completed. Officers responded that officers had issued a screening opinion stating that an environmental impact assessment was not required under government guidelines and that this ruling had not yet permeated to regulations for planning authorities.

 

The Applicant

  • The applicant addressed the Committee in response to objectors’ concerns and made the following points:
  • The garden of the Almshouses would not be any more overshadowed than it currently was;
  • Discussions on a potential land swap were ongoing and the applicant was keen to explore these options;
  • Temporary accommodation for Almshouse residents during building work was also being explored;
  • The impact on quality of life in the Almshouses would not be too severe;
  • It was the Council’s analysis that security increased with greater foot fall in a local area and the applicant was following this lead;
  • With distances of 20 metres at the nearest from New Albemarle overlooking was not a serious concern for the Almshouses;
  • The distance from Ingleborough Street to Wayland House was more than 20 metres and there would be no permanent overshadowing;
  • Efforts were made to consult, including leaflet deliveries and posters in local shops;
  • The aim was to create an integrated community;
  • It was 15 months since the stock transfer ballot and if permission was not granted it was probable that another ballot would need to be held; and
  • Deferral could undermine the scheme to the extent that it can not be completed.

 

A resident of Stockwell Park Estate addressed the Committee in support of the application making the following points:

  • Residents had been working on this project for a number of years;
  • The scheme needed to be completed and this was the only way that the estate would be refurbished;
  • The existing Albemarle House would be decommissioned if it was not changed;
  • The concerns were acknowledged but this was an outline application and there were still opportunities to resolve the concerns; and
  • This was not an application by Lambeth Council but by residents of Stockwell Park and Robsart Village estates.

 

Councillor Sally Prentice, Ward Councillor for Ferndale, addressed the Committee expressing strong support for the application and making the following points;

  • The scheme should be viewed in context and 1000 homes in the area would benefit from the application;
  • The diversified tenures in the proposed development would help to create a sustainable community;
  • Security would be improved;
  • The sheltered accommodation available would be of a higher standard; and
  • The improvements around the skate park would create a hub and community centre.

 

Loss of day and sunlight from the proposed New Albemarle

A representative of the consultants commissioned to examine this issue by Lambeth Planning addressed the Committee outlining the basis of the dispute.

 

The Friendly Almshouses’ day and sunlight consultant addressed the Committee and stated that the applicant’s light assessment had been incorrect due to a technical error. The plans in the application would result in 7 out of 15 rooms in the Almshouses failing the BRE standard and 3 only just passing the standard. This would have a serious physiological and psychological impact.

 

Councillor Brian Palmer asked if there was agreement that 7 rooms would fail the BRE standard. The applicant, objectors and officers agreed.

 

Councillor Brian Palmer asked if, given the error in the Almshouse assessment, the assessments for properties on the north side of the development were reliable. The applicant’s consultant responded that the error with the Almshouse arose from the thickness of the walls. Properties on the north side of the scheme were more modern buildings and would not have this problem. In addition they had much higher levels of day and sunlight to start with and so, even if taking account of a margin of error, they would not fall below BRE standards. The applicant added that day and sunlight constraints were planning guidelines and did not necessarily make refusing planning permission mandatory.

 

Councillor Brian Palmer asked for officers’ opinion on the day and sunlight guidelines. Officers responded that the applicant was correct and that these were guidelines, not fixed rules, but that the issue was that the occupiers of these rooms were vulnerable and so the matter was significant.

 

Councillor David Malley asked if the properties in Park View Mews passed day and sunlight tests by a wide margin. Officers responded that the habitable rooms in these properties were over the BRE minimum.

 

The Chair asked to hear more from officers on the potential solution to the problem of day and sunlight levels in the Friendly Almshouses in the proposed development. Councillors Brian Palmer and Julian Heather expressed grave concern at hearing this proposal. Councillor Julian Heather stated his opinion that to alter the height of New Albemarle constituted a material change to the application and it should therefore be resubmitted. He stated that he believed if the Committee proceeded its decision would be open to Judicial Review.

 

The Legal Officer stated that a reduction in height of the block could be considered a material change to the application but as a way forward the Committee could grant outline planning permission reserving the matter for future consideration.

 

The Chair expressed his opinion that the Committee had taken similar action in the past and the precedent existed.

 

Officers reminded the Committee that this was an outline application and thus there was still scope to address the problems with the application. They had sought legal advice from Sharp Pritchard on this matter and it was officers’ opinion that the Committee could proceed with considering the suggested solution. They informed the Committee that the applicant had estimated that if 2 storeys were removed from the tower element of New Albemarle and if 1 full storey was removed from the lower block there would be no BRE breach. This would result in the loss of 8 dwellings in the scheme. Officers stated that it was for the Committee to decide if this was acceptable.

 

Councillor Diana Morris asked for confirmation on the number of dwellings under this new proposal. Officers confirmed the number as 542 dwellings.

 

Councillor Brian Palmer asked if the applicant was happy to lose 8 dwellings. The applicant responded that they would prefer not to make this reduction but would do so to gain planning permission. They stated it would be preferable to come to an agreement on relocation of the Almshouses that would mean this reduction was not necessary.

 

The Chair stated that the Committee could not condition that the Almshouses be redeveloped as part of this scheme but informed the applicant that the Committee wished to see a positive outcome to this problem.

 

The applicant informed the Committee that they were committed to a positive solution of the Almshouse situation but needed outline planning permission in order to proceed from a secure position.

 

Councillor Brian Palmer welcomed the applicant’s statement but stated that this should have been done before the application was made.

 

Councillor Julian Heather expressed hope that the applicant would withdraw the application to improve the scheme as there were a number of problems with the application, not only in regard to day and sunlight at the Almshouses. Both he and Councillor Brian Palmer were concerned that the Committee had been asked to examine two large applications at one meeting.

 

Councillor David Malley stated that if the scale and layout of New Albemarle were reserved then the Almshouses would be in a strong negotiating position. In his view the impact on daylight at the north of the scheme was not significant enough to refuse permission.

 

Officers informed the Committee that New Albemarle could not be excluded from the planning application but that the plans showing the scale and layout for New Albemarle would become illustrative only. The number of dwellings would be agreed as 542 and the scale and layout of New Albemarle would be reserved for future determination.

 

Councillor Julian Heather expressed serious concern at the quality of the application, urged the applicant to withdraw the application and stated that he would be recommending that the application be refused.

 

Councillor Diana Morris asked whether it was possible to retain trees on Robsart Street. The Applicant stated that they thought this would be possible. Officers advised that a condition should be added if the Committee was minded to secure this.

 

The Chair stated that progress can be made on this application but that there were parts of the proposals which were poorly executed, especially consultation with local residents outside the application site. He stated that the Committee would like to see positive movement on this issue.

 

The Chair MOVED officers’ recommendations as laid out in the report and addendum with the following additions and amendments:

1.      An additional condition to secure the retention of existing trees on Robsart Street;

2.      That a letter be sent to Housing & Regeneration raising the issue of the Friendly Almshouses and encouraging them to take an active role in ongoing negotiations;

3.      That the scale (design) and layout (siting) of the New Albemarle blocks be reserved for future determination by PAC so that the occupiers of the Friendly Almshouses can be consulted; and

4.      That the description of development be amended to deduct 8 units from the total number of dwellings proposed so that it would read “up to 542 new dwellings”.

 

Councillor Neil Sabharwal SECONDED the motion.

 

Voting:

For – 4

Against – 1

Abstentions – 1

 

The motion therefore passed and it was RESOLVED that the Committee was MINDED TO GRANT planning permission subject to the conditions laid out in the report, the Section 106 obligations as laid out in the report and referral to the GLA and Government Office for London, the addendum and the following additions and amendments:

1.      An additional condition to secure the retention of existing trees on Robsart Street;

2.      That a letter be sent to Housing & Regeneration raising the issue of the Friendly Almshouses and encouraging them to take an active role in ongoing negotiations;

3.      That the scale (design) and layout (siting) of the New Albemarle blocks be reserved for future determination by PAC so that the occupiers of the Friendly Almshouses can be consulted; and

4.      That the description of development be amended to deduct 8 units from the total number of dwellings proposed so that it would read “up to 542 new dwellings”.

Report author: Cliff Ringwood

Publication date: 11/01/2007

Date of decision: 09/01/2007

Decided at meeting: 09/01/2007 - Planning Applications Committee (replaced by PAC 1 and PAC A on 25.05.07)

Accompanying Documents: