February 21, 2014 by Juha Repo
Our February meeting was well attended again with local residents and local cllrs Adele Morris and David Noakes. A list of issues were discussed with future action needed planned in connection to these. Once again the general feeling in the meeting was that the existing residents living in the Blackfriars Road area are not getting their voices and opinions listened to in the Southwark planning processes.
1. Burrell Street
In connection with the Blackfriars Road SPD it emerged that the owners of the land had been approached by developers with a view to redevelop the site with higher density than the current occupation of Quadrant House, Edwards Edwards House and the Prince William Henry public house. The land is owned by the Edward Edwards charity, and they building are currently owned by Southwark Charities.
According to the developer plans the leasehold would remain with the charities, and the sheltered housing would be doubled in the new development, along with commercial development. The fate of the people living in Quadrant House is unclear however, as there is no provision to replace those residences in the plan. The residents of Quadrant House only found out about the plans after an article on the LondonSE1 website highlighted the developer letter found in the SPD documents.
A meeting is now planned with all the parties connected with this with the help of cllr Adele Morris.
In the meeting comments were heard about this issue being a direct consequence of the Blackfriars Road SPD by alerting developers to more actively look for potential sites. Also concern was raised about City of London housing now looking at development potential within their residential estates located in Southwark. It was also noted that the new developments often attract investment from (sometimes corrupt) foreign investors as a ‘glorified savings account”. Will all this development do anything for the area?
2. Octavia House
The planning application for the site in the junction of Union Street and Nelson Square won’t now go before the planning committee before April. There seems to be a “Prior notification of demolition” of the existing building and the garages belonging to residents of Applegarth House approved on the Southwark Planning website, even if the planning application is still open.
Comments can still be submitted to Southwark Council all the way until the application is presented to committee, probably in April. See our previous article on Octavia House.
3. Valentine Place update
Barbara (Webber Street and Quentin Place) gave a background account regarding the demolition of heritage buildings which included a Victorian factory and an older bakery. The Bakery was saved because the area was designated a conservation area, but the factory has been demolished. Current planning application changes the entire ‘townscape’ of the area, and includes demolishing all but the façade of the bakery. The planning application number is 13/AP/3791 and includes a 4,5 and 7-storey building. All are encouraged to look at the planning application and object on heritage grounds. A separate article will be posted on the BARD website about this.
4. Blackfriars Road Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)
Cllr Noakes gave a background summary of how the document was developed and explained the concerns that many of us have: Forty two sites have been identified where development would be encouraged, there is no green space, no increase in facilities eg. schools and little regard for local residents already in the area. Most contentious is the encouragement for a tall building at St George’s circus, which is not in a designated area for tall buildings according to Southwark Council’s own policies. Barratt Homes have already got a plan to build a 30-storey building on this site. Lib-dem councillors called in the document because there was intelligence that it would not pass judicial review, and was in effect changing policy, which a SPD should not do. but it was, nevertheless, adopted along party lines. The plan now, is to go to Judicial Review and to seek legal aid to do so.
There were comments from the meeting that the Barratt Homes proposal was not bad as such, as it offered to replace old office properties with residences and not all tall buildings are necessarily always bad. The response to this was that approving one tall building outside the designated area would set a precedent. A lot was discussed about the London Plan and whether it overrides Southwark Council policies and whether the fight to battle tall building was futile, as the GLA would always approve them anyway. In actual fact the council leader has been seen to support a tall building at Eileen House near Elephant, against the decision of his own planning committee. As the London Plan is also vague about this issue the Council should always stick to its own policy to only approve tall buildings where it has been deemed suitable in previous policies, and the souther end of Blackfriars Road is not one of them.
5. Open Streets event 14 June
David Love introducer the plans for this event, where Southwark residents are invited to take over Blackfriars Road and Southwark Street from cars for one day on 14 June. Different groups in Southwark are invited to create activities on the day. Further proposals are invited via the website openstreetssouthwark.com.
The meeting discussed the possible effects of road closures to local residents and emphasised that drivers need to be informed of the closures in a wide area. The event also coincides with the Open Square Gardens and some coordination was called for. It was also suggested BARD could use the day to publicise our cause with banners or leaflets.
6. Bankside Residents’ Forum
Funding that was available to pay for someone to chair this group is now no longer available. In addition, two committee members have resigned owing to other commitments. The AGM is on Monday 24 February and unless a committee is voted, the Forum will close. Meeting is at Better Bankside Community Space at 6.30. It was also suggested that BARD could merge with the forum or take over some of the duties.
7. Linden Homes update
The developers got their planning permission so now some BARD members have been engaging in a dialogue with Linden Homes to assure they are acting responsibly during construction. Also discussions have been had about saving an old mosaic found in the floor of the now demolished Imbibe pub building. Also plans to make Pocock Street narrower with trees or palnters has been opposed. Ongoing discussions about section 106 money to be used for improvements in Nelson Square Gardens.
8. Other matters
The Blackfriars Mile events on 15 March were announced to the meeting, and cllr Adele Morris informed the meeting that she has now been able to join a Transport for London committee dealing with Blackfriars Road plans to be able to coordinate the plans with council.