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Founder’s Place planning decision deferred

A decision on the controversial Founder's Place development opposite St Thomas' Hospital was deferred after a 4 hour meeting of Lambeth's planning applications committee.

Founder's Place site
The site seen from the London Eye

A five-strong panel of Lambeth councillors met at the Franklin-Wilkins Building in Stamford Street on Thursday evening to consider the application by Guy's and St Thomas' Charity for a major mixed-use development on the site east of St Thomas' Hospital and north of Archbishops Park.

The development is to include key worker housing and a new Ronald McDonald House for families of patients at the Evelina Children's Hospital. More than 300 private flats will help to fund the scheme.

The plans involve the demolition of the Victorian former school buildings on Carlisle Lane now occupied by the Kagyu Samye Dzong London Tibetan Buddhist Centre.

Councillors were unwilling to grant planning permission without assurances about the future funding of Archbishops Park and educational provision for the large number of families likely to move in to the new development.

The application is unlikely to come before the committee once again until after the council elections to be held on 4 May.

A previous application was sensationally withdrawn minutes before the committee met last November. The Charity's latest application moved the southern edge of the buildings three metres back from the edge of Archbishops Park, and planned balconies were removed from the south-facing flats. This would be offset by a corresponding height increase in parts of the scheme.

In the original plans seven of the London Plane trees on the northern edge of the park would have had to be pruned by up to 51 per cent. On the latest plans, only five trees would need to be pruned on one side of the tree crown, to a maximum of 23 per cent.

Earlier in the evening Kate Hoey MP, as an objector to the application, addressed the committee and suggested that the Charity had behaved "worse than some private developers" as regards consultation.

Martin McCool, chairman of the Canterbury House and Stangate Tenants' Association, which represents the 36 long-term tenants of the site who would be rehoused in new accommodation as part of the Founder's Place scheme, spoke about his members' concerns about aspects of the plans.

At one stage the meeting was adjourned whilst council officers and the applicants measured distances between buildings on the plans with a ruler.

Founders Place
Image of the proposed scheme before modifications were made

Residents' public meeting

On 3 March Green Party member of the London Assembly Jenny Jones was among those who addressed a public meeting of local residents concerned about the protection of the trees on the edge of Archbishops Park.

Site visit

During the month Cllr Brian Palmer (Lib Dem), chair of the planning applications committee, and Cllr Ruth Ling (Labour) carried out a site visit in advance of the meeting to consider the application. They were accompanied by council officers, local residents and representatives of the architects and Guy's and St Thomas' Charity.

Following concerns raised by local resident and Jubilee Gardens campaigner Donald Weighton, himself a civil engineer, Cllr Palmer requested that deeper test pits be dug to confirm that the tree roots did not extend towards the planned construction site.

Waterloo public meeting

Later in the month the Guy's and St Thomas' Charity convened its own meeting at the Waterloo Action Centre to present the findings of their tree specialists. This meeting was chaired by council leader and Bishop's ward councillor Peter Truesdale. MP Kate Hoey was also in attendance, along with Geoffrey Shepherd, the chief executive of the Charity.

In addition to concerns about the trees, the meeting also heard from some of the Charity's long-term tenants in Canterbury House and Stangate who felt that they were not being offered like-for-like accommodation in the new development, with the loss of the views and light that they currently enjoy.

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