Monday 25 September 2006 8.31am
The planning application for Founders Place, a large 22 storey development proposed for the end of Archbishops Park, was turned down by Lambeth earlier tyhis year. The developers have now to decide whether to appeal the decision, submit a revised application, or both. I understnad that the relevent NHS Board will consider what to do when it meets on Thursday.
Part of the development, the private part, is on a conservation area, and on land which was previously ear-marked to expand Archbishops Park. It effectively means the loss of every building, including an attractive Victorian School Building and the felling of every mature tree within the proposed development boundary.
Beyond this, and the fact that the buildings will be so close together that some flats will have to have their lights almost all the time, the main community objections are:
- The development does not follow the Conservation Area policy of "enhancing the setting of the park". The buildings will have south facing windows immediately adjascent to the avenue of 14 100 year old plane trees that forms the northern border of the park. The development has now been moved back so the trees should survive the construciton phase, but almost certainly will not survive the changes in micro-climate including the damage or scorching to new leaves and shoots when the windows reflect back the sun on the first hot day of Spring. Nor are they likely to survive lobbying from new residents who will hate the fact that trees will leave their flats in gloom through out the summer.
2. Compensation is due to the park, mainly as a result of the loss of potential for park expansion. Strong local rumours are that this will be spent on a floodlit football pitch. It is difficult to confirm this. Lambeth for the past 18 months have had a policy of limiting local consultation to the Chair of the Friends group, and certainly were not prepared to brief me when I phoned a few months back. A local Labour councillor also received a pretty evasive response (something on the lines of the fact that there was no S106 agreement until the planning application had been agreed.)
My understanding is that this pitch would be located in the middle of the park outside the Peabody flats. (No surprise that it is not proposed for the southern end of the park where it would back on the extremely long gardens of private houses, nor at the north adjascent to Founders Place.)The main movers behind this proposal appear to be the South Bank Employers
Group, including Shell who have already part funded the ugly gravel pit in the south-west corner of the park. Presumably floodlighting will enable tournaments to be held at weekends and late into the night. As far as I know there has been no discussions with the residents most affected nor with local groups or kids who may not be able to afford the cost of renting this pitch. (What will happen if the pitch is written into the S106 agreement and then the floodlights are turned down by planners is that the developers may simply keep the money.)
The local priority has always been a cafe. However the charity who ran a feasibility study to see if a supported employmnet cafe was viable, were told by Lambeth that the Friends group no longer support this.
3. A resolution to the issues surrounding the long term tenants of the hospital accomodation. These tenants were moved in about 1951 when their homes were demolished in order to build St Thomas'. They include, not surprisingly, a number of very frail and vulnerable people. They have had five years of uncertainty, and still have no concrete offer on the table. Indeed there does not seem to much of a table. There are a range of issues: rent levels, service charges, will their lease allow pets, visitors parking and so on. (The latter two are clearly important to older people living on their own.) It is not a planning issue, but clarifying what the Hospital proposes as its commitment to "like-for-like" would ease people's worries and provide more confidence that this development is in the public interest.
I and others have not heard anything following the abortive Friends AGM in June, though I am aware that local people have been invited onto the Committee. The group is clearly entitled to decide that it can achieve its aims best if it does not hold an open AGM or elections. Instead, we may, as before need to hold as seperate public meeting to decide on a community line for the planning appeal. If anyone would like to be part of this do PM me.
And if anyone has details of the proposed S106 agreement including the plans for the pitch, could you let me know. If floodlights are not planned it would be good to stop the rumours. I noted that the new signboard showing a map of the park carefully does not give boundaries to the pitch.