Agenda item

Graphite Square (Princes) 17/02936/FUL



1.    Resolve to grant conditional planning permission subject to any direction that may be received following referral to the Mayor of London and subject to the completion of an agreement pursuant to Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 including the planning obligations listed in this report.


2.    Agree to delegate authority to the Assistant Director of Planning, Transport and Development to:


·         Finalise the recommended conditions as set out in this report; and

·         Negotiate, agree and finalise the planning obligations as set out in this report pursuant to Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. 


3.    In the event that the committee resolves to refuse planning permission and there is a subsequent appeal, delegated authority is given to officers, having regard to the heads of terms set out in the report, to negotiate and complete a document containing obligations pursuant to Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 in order to meet the requirements of the Planning Inspector.


Councillor Joanne Simpson stood down from the Committee for the duration of the item.


Case No. 17/02936/FUL (agenda item five, page 179 of the agenda pack, page 24 of the addendum and page 17 of the second addendum).


The Planning Officer gave a presentation which included a summary of the report and subsequent addenda that had been published on Friday 2 February 2018 and the day of the meeting. Members were advised of the key material planning issues for consideration which included the demolition of existing buildings, the construction of an up to 14-storey residential-led mixed-use development with 160 residential units, 50 of which would be affordable, offices, flexible commercial space and community use space.  The site was within the Albert Embankment conservation area.  Members were shown images of the existing site, the local context, proposed floorplans, the impact on protected views and the amenity impact on neighbouring properties.  The second addendum included five additional objections and officer responses.  New pedestrian access routes through the site would be provided, public realm improvements would be secured, there would be an increase in flexible B1 floorspace and the community use currently on the site would be re-provided.  A petition objecting to the application based on the height and massing of the application, and its impact on Arne House, had been submitted by one of the objectors.


Following the officer’s presentation, the objectors raised the following concerns:

·         Residents wanted the site to be redeveloped but the proposal was inappropriate.  The site should be developed in a way that would complement the local area.

·         The applicant had not complied with NPPF paragraph 66 in its failure to work with local people, and the application failed London Plan policy 7.6 on the impacts of tall buildings.

·         Residents of neighbouring properties would be closer to the development than the recommended 18 metres.  There would be a reduction in light in a number of flats.

·         Construction works would have a significant impact on air quality for neighbours.

·         The application was not in the tall buildings cluster and the height was not appropriate.

·         Vulnerable residents of neighbouring buildings would be harmed by the development due to the loss of daylight and sunlight.


The architect and agent then provided the following information in support of the application:

·         The development would bring improvements to the streetscape and public realm and would double the existing quantity of employment space.  The community space had been designed in collaboration with the Methodist Church that currently occupied part of the site.

·         The application had been designed to complement its surroundings and would continue the building line of Jameson House.

·         The outdoor amenity space and playspace would be accessible to all residents.

·         New homes and jobs would be provided through the application, which would also remove a local eyesore.

·         Extensive consultation had taken place in developing the application.  There was broad support for the development.

·         The affordable housing provision met local policy.  72% of the affordable homes would be for social rent and 88% of the affordable units would be 2 and 3 bedroom family units.

·         The site was well-located for public transport.


[At 22:00 the Committee elected to proceed with the meeting for a further 45 minutes in order to conclude the remaining matters of business.]


Councillor David Amos spoke as Ward Councillor in objection to the application, raising the following points:

·         The officer’s report conceded that there would be a harmful amenity impact to neighbours.  The majority of affected residents were in council homes.

·         There would be a major loss of light for a number of properties.

·         The short separation distances would add to the sense of enclosure.

·         The level of children’s playspace to be provided did not comply with policy.


Councillor Joanne Simpson then addressed the Committee objecting to the application as Ward Councillor for Prince’s, stating that:

·         The design was out of keeping with the area.  The height of tall buildings stepped down from the riverfront, but the site was some distance from the tall buildings cluster.

·         Although Haymans Point was a similar height, it was set back from the boundary of the site.


Officers then provided the following information in response to questions from Members:

·         A separation distance of 18 metres was a benchmark for facing windows, rather than an absolute minimum.  Directional glass fins would be fitted to windows to reduce overlooking while still allowing light to enter the properties.

·         Human rights implications had been considered extensively and noted that the Council was entitled to interfere with property rights if it was in the public interest.

·         Of the neighbouring buildings, 79 Vauxhall Walk, Arne House and Haymans Point would be the most affected by the proposal.  The buildings currently on the site were low-rise, meaning that any increase in building height would have a considerable impact on daylight and sunlight compared to the present situation.

·         At 79 Vauxhall Walk, six living rooms would have a major adverse reduction (a reduction of at least 40%) in daylight, and eight living rooms would have a major adverse reduction in sunlight. 

·         Arne House had deck access to flats, which limited the amount of light that could enter flats.  The impact to the southern section of Arne House was within BRE guidance, but the northern and central sections would have a moderate to major adverse impact.

·         There would be reductions in daylight for the living rooms in the bottom four floors of Haymans Point, but there would be no adverse effects on sunlight levels.

·         The level of light to the residential amenity area would be slightly below target.

·         The impacts on Vauxhall Walk and Arne House were significant compared to other similar applications.

·         The majority of the approved schemes on the Albert Embankment were up to 90 metres tall, with building heights stepping down from the river into central Vauxhall.  There were a number of buildings of a similar height in the area, such as Haymans Point.  Officers felt that the height was appropriate given the urban context.  The four storey podium level was in line with the majority of building heights in the immediate area.

·         Half of the site was within the conservation area, and the design and materials would reflect the industrial heritage of the area.

·         The pedestrian routes would be locked at night to ensure the safety of residents.  


The Committee considered points raised by speakers and information provided by officers in conjunction with the report before making the following observations:

·         The application would provide desirable benefits, such as workspace, 35% affordable housing and community space.  The scheme was well-designed and would contribute positively to the area.

·         The adverse amenity impact on such a large number of residents of neighbouring buildings was unacceptable.

·         There was insufficient justification for the height, scale and massing in that location.  The site was too small to accommodate such a development and the separation distances between the proposal and neighbouring properties were too small.


It was MOVED by Councillor Wilcox, SECONDED by Councillor Morris, and


RESOLVED, unanimously


1.    To REFUSE planning permission against officers’ recommendations for reasons related to the following:

i.      The adverse impact on neighbouring amenity, particularly sunlight and daylight, resulting from the inappropriate massing and scale and the insufficient separation distances.


2.    In the event of a subsequent appeal, to delegate authority to officers, having regard to the heads of terms set out in the report, to negotiate and complete a document containing obligations pursuant to Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 in order to meet the requirements of the Planning Inspector.

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