Added on: 30 July 2014 at 10:20:50
Go Ape Battersea Park: 2014/3708
The Battersea Society wish to object to this application as currently presented on the grounds that it is deficient in providing full information on the use of the site and the impact of these uses on the grade ll* listed Historic Park . We consider that on the basis of the material provided it is not possible to assess whether Policy DMO1 (ii): Protection and enhancement of open spaces is met. That is that the proposals do not 'harm the character, appearance or function of the open space. '
While accepting in principle that this type of project could provide an added attraction to a currently underused section of the Park (and provide revenue for the Borough), further consideration needs to be given to the following issues:
a) the proposed operating arrangements and likely attendance numbers:
The application indicates that the operating hours will be 8 am through to 9 pm, 7 days a week, from February to December. A start time of 8 am is extremely early in terms of potential impact on local traffic, public transport (already overloaded) and noise for local residents. We would recommend that the attraction should not open before 9.30 am and no use of the actual climbs etc commence until 10.00 am. The noise and traffic statements hint at the way the attraction will operate i.e. 3 or 1 hour sessions but these are not fully explained. The statements also hint at likely numbers expected to be using the equipment at one time but this is not explicitly set out anywhere. This information is critical to making an informed judgement within the context of policy DMO1 (ii) and a full statement should be sought on signage, operating arrangements, hours and projected usage on weekdays and at weekends. Presumably given the nature of the project use by the disabled is not a possibility but this should be clearly stated.
b) the noise impact on local residents and users of the Park
The noise assessment fails to assess the impact on any area external to the Park other than outside Cyril Mansions. Park and Norfolk Mansions, and parts of Albert Bridge Road (especially opposite the park gate and road junction) are also likely to be affected. So too are users of the Park during what are normally quiet hours, especially during week day mornings and early afternoon. For many of these users an essential quality of the Park is its relative quiet and peace away from the noise of surrounding streets. Noise could particularly impact on the the quiet enjoyment of the recently replanted Winter Garden and also echo across the quiet avenue alongside Albert Bridge Road. Reference to experience at other GO Ape parks is largely inappropriate because this is a small dense proposal within an urban park adjoining nearby residential streets. Other GO Apes are located in larger more rural and/or extensive parkland where impact on other users of the open space and any residents is quite different.
c) transport and parking implications
The traffic statement acknowledges that the attraction could generate demand for 43 parking places - 12.5% of existing parking provision. This is a very high proportion of the total parking places available relative to the proportion of Park users who would be at Go Ape. There is already unmet demand for parking at peak periods and imposing this increased demand will inevitably impact on parking outside the Park where residents suffer pressure on on-street spaces.. In addition we consider that the suggested proportion of users of Go Ape likely to come by public transport is unrealistic given the cost and its being marketed as a special day out for families and groups.
d) access, signage, reception cabin and facilities on site
No indication is given of how visitors would gain access into the facility, waiting areas etc. or what signage is proposed for the facility both on site and elsewhere in the Park. The application proposes that a window of the former One O’clock club will act as a reception booth and users will then be briefed outside. There appear to be no toilets or wet weather reception areas on site, although visitors may be coming from some distance and apparently staying up to three hours. There should surely be some cloakroom provision with toilets and room to leave personal belongings not wanted on the adventure experience itself. For an investment on this scale and the likely cost for users, this is a notable omission.
Reference is made to the possibility of a separate planning application for adaptation of the existing buildings. We consider information on the adaptation and use of these buildings together with the facilities to be provided should be an essential requirement of any approval given
There is no indication of what kind of lighting there would be on site - if visibility is poor do they close? Nor in the plans is there any indication of possible landscaping at ground level, including for example seating or queuing areas when equipment is busy, an evident problem as indicated on blogs about other Go-Ape sites.
e) boundary treatment and security of the site outside operating hours
No indication is given of what form of boundary fencing or security surveillance is proposed. The boundary treatment should form part of the formal planning permission to ensure that it is designed to be in sympathy with the Victorian character of the Park, comply with policy DMO1(ii) and limit the risk of damage and crime by intruders.
We therefore recommend that the application as submitted be refused.
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