36-46 Albert Embankment (Prince's) 19/03500/FUL
1. Resolve to grant conditional planning permission subject to the completion of an agreement under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) containing the planning obligations listed in this report and any directions as may be received following referral to the Mayor of London.
2. Agree to delegate authority to the Assistant Director of Planning, Transport and Development to:
a. Finalise the recommended conditions as set out in this report, addendums and/or PAC minutes; and
b. Negotiate, agree and finalise the planning obligations as set out in this report, addendums and/or PAC minutes pursuant to Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended).
3. In the event that the committee resolves to refuse planning permission and there is a subsequent appeal, delegated authority is given to the Assistant Director of Planning, Transport and Development, having regard to the heads of terms set out in this report, addendums and/or PAC minutes, to negotiate and complete a document containing obligations pursuant to Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) in order to meet the requirement of the Planning Inspector.
4. In the event that the Section 106 Agreement is not completed within 6 months of committee, delegated authority is given to the Assistant Director of Planning, Transport and Development to refuse planning permission for failure to enter into a section 106 agreement for the mitigating contributions identified in this report, addendums and/or the PAC minutes.
Case No. 19/03500/FUL (agenda item four, page 115 of the agenda pack, page seven of the first addendum and page 13 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 17 January 2020 and the day of the meeting. Members were advised of the key material planning issues for consideration which included the demolition of the Texaco petrol filling station and the refurbishment of Vintage House. The petrol station would be replaced by a 600 room hotel, with an ancillary restaurant and bar on the ground floor level. There were no objections to the loss of the petrol station. The proposed scheme would have similar impacts compared to the scheme approved in 2017 (16/00795/FUL) in terms of townscape, heritage, daylight and sunlight and outlook impacts. There would be several conditions to ensure that residents would not be disturbed by noise. Computer generated imagery was presented of various locations, including proposed schemes in Vauxhall, which displayed the similarity in building sizes to the proposed scheme. The hotel would be covered by a biodiverse green roof and at ground level there would be mainly hard landscaping with a few trees and landscaping cabinets. There would be no harm to heritage assets, however the surrounding conservation area would positively benefit from the demolition of the petrol station and the refurbishment of Vintage House. The Greater London Authority was of the view that the proposed hotel building would result in less than substantial harm to the setting of the Albert Embankment Conservation Area, but GLA officers advised that this was outweighed by the public benefits flowing from the scheme. The proposed servicing route would be through Spring Garden Walk and Goding Street. At present, Goding Street was a shared space between vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. The applicant agreed to mitigate harm to Goding Street through a contribution of £150,000 towards cycling and pedestrian infrastructure improvements along Goding Street. It was proposed that the hotel vehicle drop-off area in the front entrance would only be used by licensed taxis to limit the number of vehicle movements within the area and ensure there was no queuing of vehicles along Albert Embankment.
Following the officer’s presentation, the objector raised the following concerns:
· Although residents did not oppose the proposal in principal, they objected to the bulk and size of the building, as the two towers were insensitive to the character of the area.
· The Council were relying heavily on the previous approval, which did not fully consider the mass, scale and bulk.
· The development would create extra traffic on Glasshouse Walk.
· Residents requested a lower rise development proposal and provided examples of development they supported in the area.
The applicant then provided the following information in support of the application:
· The Council had ambitious plans and this scheme would be an exciting opportunity to help contribute to this.
· It was identified that the location needed additional hotel rooms.
· The proposed development comprehensively assessed the impacts of the scheme.
· The application proposal represented an improvement in sustainability and biodiversity when compared with the extant permission.
Officers then provided the following information in response to questions from Members:
· Policies in the Lambeth Local Plan and London Plan did not specify the extent of the geographical area to be considered for surrounding hotels. For this application, the area considered was all of Vauxhall comprising the opportunity area and the CAZ because hotel policies were specific to these areas. The hotels would not greatly alter the concentration of rooms offered by hotels shown in table 7.1.15 of the report, rather it would reduce the concentration.
· There were no projections of how the extra 600 rooms would affect the Vauxhall occupancy rate, which currently stood at 87% (the London average was 80%). The new draft London Plan identified a need for a projected extra 48,000 rooms by 2041, which the application would contribute towards. The target was London wide and not specific to boroughs.
· Lambeth was assigned an overarching housing target by the London Plan which did not specifically reference targets for affordable housing. Lambeth policies provided for up to 40 or 50% of residential units being affordable housing.
· The application consisted of refurbishment of office space and not an offer of new use. Affordable workspace was not a requisite of applications for hotels.
· The extant planning permission, which included provision of 66 affordable housing units, had not been implemented. As such, loss of affordable housing was not a material planning consideration in the determination of the application before PAC members. Members had to consider whether the loss of the current land use was acceptable in policy terms.
· There had been discussions on the Employment and Skills Plan, however officers did not have information on specifications of the London Living Wage.
· Carbon offset had not been part of the application discussions as the application was non-residential and therefore not a requirement of the GLA.
· The Albert Embankment Conservation Area comprised an assortment of historic buildings in an evolving urban environment which included tall buildings. GLA and Historic England had previously stated there was no harm to the Conservation Area, however the GLA had now identified less than substantial harm. Historic England had not provided further comments. Officers’ approach to the scheme was that tall buildings in principle were acceptable due to the location within the Opportunity Area and that the proposal had to be seen in the context of existing surrounding taller buildings. Officers did not identify any harm to the Conservation Area.
· The applicant had used the BRE sunlight and daylight assessment to design the towers to align with Peninsular Heights, allowing daylight through to that property and minimising the impact.
· The assessment of the taxi trip generation was based on the TRICS database for licensed vehicles. These vehicles would be able to pick up and drop off in the front entrance drop off area of the hotel. The transport statement had been submitted to TfL for review, who had responded with recommendations. There would be no taxi drop off point along the Albert Embankment as taxis were legally allowed to drop off passengers along the TfL red route. TfL would be cognizant of other forms of drop offs, including Uber and unlicensed vehicles, and had not raised any objections. These recommendations were to limit the use of the front entrance drop off area to licensed taxis. The site would provide eight parking bays at basement level which would allow blue badge holders to park.
· The change of consolidation of service vehicles from 60% to 30% would be a more realistic outcome. 60% was an ambitious figure that would be suited better to supermarkets.
· The contribution of £150,000 towards cycling and pedestrian infrastructure improvements along Goding Street would pay for the entirety of a footpath on the side of the road. This would create a dedicated space for cyclists, which would no longer rely on shared carriageway space. Although it had not been stipulated in the application, Members’ wish for a segregated area for cyclists only could be included as an informative on the decision notice. The improvements would only be along the north section of Goding Street because this was where service and delivery vehicles would travel.
· Although there were no discussions prior to the application regarding a Copenhagen crossing at junctions, it was suggested to add this as an Informative.
· The contribution of £453,000 would fund the installation of pedestrian crossings and cycle infrastructure along the entire site frontage on Albert Embankment.
· It was not a requirement for hotels to provide open spaces to guests. The draft London Plan had brought in a new policy about urban greening factor with targets for developers. The target figure of 0.3% would be surpassed through the planting of the tree, the green roof and landscaping at the entrance and would achieve a value of 0.42%.
The Committee considered points raised by speakers and information provided by officers in conjunction with the report before making the following observations:
· Loss of affordable housing was not under consideration with this application.
· Members were pleased with the design of the building and the contribution towards improving cyclist and pedestrian experience along Goding Street.
· The effectiveness of condition 61 for mitigating the queueing of vehicles, and also the access of Blue Badge holders to the site, were questioned.
· The view was expressed that the assessment of the balance of land use should include areas further east of the site, as it was more residential.
· Concern was expressed about the potential loss of affordable housing units associated with the extant permission.
· Some Members were concerned about the effect of the bulk of the building on views and the skyline.
· Members requested that the potential use of Copenhagen style crossings be explored when the scheme of highways improvements works were developed.
· Members requested that consideration was given to the interplay between the Goding Street improvement works and cycling conditions in the wider Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens area when designs were developed and consulted on.
· Members requested that some of the Legible London Signage contribution be used to aid with the promotion of the local area and businesses if practicable.
· There was a strong desire that London Living Wage was secured for all end user employees and that officers negotiate as good a quality employment offer as was feasibly possible, potentially through the Employment and Skills Plan.
It was MOVED by Councillor Wilcox, SECONDED by Councillor Windle, and
RESOLVED, five votes for, one vote against
1. To GRANT conditional planning permission subject to the completion of an agreement under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) containing the planning obligations listed in the report and any directions as may be received following referral to the Mayor of London and the following:
i. Amendment to Condition 57(c) to restrict hours of deliveries to outside peak hours but also as far as possible within daytime hours.
ii. That final wording of condition 61 be agreed by officers (in conjunction with the Chair of the Committee) following further consultation with the GLA and TFL to clarify their rationale for limiting access to the proposed drop-off and pick-up foyer area to licensed taxis only.
iii. An additional informative be added in relation to highways works to request that careful consideration is given to managing junctions and potential conflict arising from the uplift in vehicle movements and expected increased pedestrian/cyclist usage of Goding Street.
2. To delegate authority to the Assistant Director of Planning, Transport and Development to:
a. Finalise the recommended conditions as set out in the report, addenda and/or PAC minutes; and
b. Negotiate, agree and finalise the planning obligations as set out in the report, addenda and/or PAC minutes pursuant to Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended).
3. In the event that the Section 106 Agreement is not completed within 6 months of committee, delegated authority is given to the Assistant Director of Planning, Transport and Development to refuse planning permission for failure to enter into a section 106 agreement for the mitigating contributions identified in this report, addendums and/or the PAC minutes.