Added on: 1 August 2014 at 10:45:44
Covent Garden Market Authority, 2014/2810
The Battersea Society wishes to comment on this application in relation to the overall design, the grouping of the three towers, the impact on Nine Elms Lane, the varying priorities of pedestrians and cyclists, overall circulation and the proposals in relation to affordable housing. We will comment separately on the Environmental Impact material as we understand the deadline for this is the end of August.
We are helped in our understanding of the scheme by the generous amount of time given by the Chief Executive and her development partners in their presentation of the plans, and to the various documents made available by WBC. We thank all concerned
We are supportive of the need to develop and improve the market and recognise that this public asset needs to be funded through residential and commercial development. We understand the difficulties of maintaining an operational market throughout the build period. We heard about the iterative process which has taken place both in relation to market facilities and the design as this planning application has been made ready. The following is intended as further input to this process as the application is assessed and plans progress.
Overall Design and the three towers
The lack of detailed design information about the plans has been a concern to us, one we raised most recently at the public exhibition at the end of 2013. While we understand that a detailed design code has been developed we share CABE’s concerns about the lack of a final design for the important grouping of the three towers at the northern end. On paper these designs look somewhat stark. Detailing, standard of finish, the overall composition of the three towers and their impact at ground level are vital and we are yet to be reassured that the exigencies of economics will not, in the absence of their being consented final designs, lead to some deterioration in standards. We consider therefore that the lack of a single submission for three towers could lead to lack of integrity of design and impact in this critical part of the development standing at the entrance to the linear park.
We share English Heritage’s concern about the height of the centre tower and note that this proposal takes no account of policies for the Nine Elms area. We object to the added height and call for the developer to re-work the heights to conform to planning policy for this area of Nine Elms.
We also note and agree with CABE’s concerns that the design of the key market buildings does not yet match the ambition of the scheme overall, the care taken to provide first-class functionality and to the very commendable opening up of a garden heart to the whole scheme to the benefit of market traders, residents and the public.
Impact on Nine Elms Lane
Buildings along Nine Elms Lane, with the notable exception of the US embassy, appear to be building up to the pavement line. We fear a general canyonisation of the road and urge that buildings are set back. There needs to be space at street level to provide a streetscape which allows for both people and traffic, the latter likely to be much increased from current levels.
Concern for pedestrians in the linear park
While we applaud there being adequate provision for cyclists through the linear park we are increasingly concerned that this is at the expense of the needs of pedestrians. It is vital that those walking be given space quite separate from cyclists, that this separate cycle provision be designed so as to manage and control inappropriate speeding and that regulations applying to cyclists are properly enforced.
Circulation and Access Points
Earlier concerns about non- commercial traffic into and out of the site have largely been met through amendments to key access points. It will be important, however, that there is clear signposting into the Garden Heart for those on foot.
We were concerned at a suggestion that 15% might be subject to negotiation downwards in conversations with WBC and this concern is heightened by the tone of the Affordable Housing submission.
While we understand that the public asset of CGMA needs to be developed in a manner that makes it self-funding, it is also vital that the CGMA board and its executive understand their role in contributing not just to the workplace within Nine Elms but to the maintenance of a fully mixed residential community. Nine Elms will only be ‘an expensive part of the borough’ because the homes of earlier residents were reduced to rubble during the Second World War. Landowners are now in a position to profit massively from the policies of GLA and WBC in relation to this largely industrial brownfield site.
The Northern Line Extension is only necessary in order to allow landowners to maximise their profit. The requirement that they contribute to its cost has already reduced their affordable housing commitment to a meagre 15%. It would be shaming if developers and Wandsworth Council between them settled for any less.
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